by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Dawsonville, GA, USA
The global Burns community
has lost one of its most cherished and honored members. The words from
Patrick Scott’s email on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 4:42 AM were not
unexpected but still left much sadness in my heart: “Ross died about 1 am
this morning, peacefully.” Below is the family obituary, and a more personal
tribute will follow in the near future. (FRS: 2.20.13)
G. Ross Roy
G. Ross Roy, husband of Lucie
C. Roy, noted Scottish literature scholar, and Distinguished Professor of
English & Comparative Literature, Emeritus, at the University of South
Carolina, died Tuesday, February 19, 2013, aged 88, peacefully, at home.
George Ross Roy was born
August 20, 1924, only son of Archibald Carlyle and Georgina Simpson Roy of
Montreal. His college education was interrupted by World War II, when he was
commissioned as a navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force, serving with
the RAF from bases in Britain, Africa, and India. He earned his BA from Sir
George Williams University, his maitrise from the University of Strasbourg,
an MA and PhD from the University of Montreal, and a doctorate from the
Sorbonne in Paris.
Following his marriage to
Lucie in 1954, he taught at the Royal Military College of Canada, the
University of Alabama, the University of Montreal, and Texas Tech
University, before moving to USC in 1965 as professor of English and
comparative literature. He was visiting professor at the University of
Metz, and honorary professor of Scottish literature at the University of
Of Scottish descent on both
sides of his family, he was introduced to the poetry of Robert Burns as a
boy by his grandfather, W. Ormiston Roy, a noted collector. After earlier
scholarship on Canadian poetry, Whitman, and comparative literature, he
concentrated on Scottish literature, especially Burns. As well as writing
hundreds of articles and reviews, he edited Burns’s Letters in two volumes
(Oxford University Press, 1985) and Burns’s Merry Muses (USC Press, 1999).
In 1963, he founded the first
refereed scholarly journal in the field, Studies in Scottish Literature,
which he had edited with his wife’s help for almost 50 years. In 2012, he
donated copyright in the journal to USC Libraries, ensuring its continuance.
In 1988, he transferred his
Robert Burns collection, and other Scottish collections, to the University
of South Carolina, serving as honorary curator, donating additional
materials each year since the original gift (including in 2008 a notable
collection of Burns manuscripts), directing or codirecting a series of
international Scottish conferences at USC, and establishing with his wife
the W. Ormiston Roy Memorial Fellowship to promote the collection’s use. In
2010, friends named a room in Hollings Library in his honor, featuring
items from the collection.
Ross Roy’s own achievements
and his role in establishing Scottish literature as an academic field were
recognized by honorary doctorates from the Universities of Edinburgh and
Glasgow; honorary vice-presidency of the Robert Burns World Federation; life
membership in two noted Burns clubs, in Greenock and Atlanta; lifetime
achievement awards from the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society, the
Scottish Heritage Symposium (St. Andrew’s College), and the Saltire Society;
establishment in Scotland of an annual G. Ross Roy Medal for Scottish
Literature; publication of a festschrift in his honor, Robert Burns &
Friends (2012); the USC Education Foundation research award; and the Order
of the Palmetto.
Most of all Ross will be
remembered as friend. He mentored several generations of Scottish
literature scholars, and he shared his knowledge equally with non-academic
Burnsians. He and Lucie welcomed countless visitors to Columbia and to
their home. He traveled frequently to Scotland and Europe to research,
lecture, and hunt our rare books, most recently in May 2012.
He is survived by his wife
Lucie, his sister-in-law Marie Madeleine Jehl of Strasbourg, France, and
several nieces and nephews, including Alex Gillon of Oregon, Kenneth Thorpe
of Toronto. He was predeceased by his daughter Dr. Madeleine C. Roy and his
three sisters, Mary Joan Gillon, Anne Thorpe, and Barbara Dallinger.
The family is grateful to Dr.
Ted Golay, Marshall Lunsford, and the caregivers from Senior Matters . They
were especially compasionate and helpful to Ross.
Funeral arrangements will be
private, but there will be a memorial gathering later at the University.
Memorial donations may be made to the G. Ross Roy & Lucie C. Roy Scottish
Literature Endowment, USC Educational Foundation, 1600 Hampton St., Columbia