Ted R. Vaughan Memorial
The University of Missouri Department of Sociology and a few of his students are organizing a memorial for the life of Prof. Ted R. Vaughan, 2-4:30 pm on Saturday, April 28, 2018 in Columbia, MO. At Palmer Room 100a located in the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute on S 9th st. After the memorial, we hope people will go to The Olde Heidelberg, Ted's 'REAL' classroom, and continue the celebration of his life. Click through to read some of the remarks presented at the memorial.
Enclosed, please find copies of my comments on Ted, Stephen Turner’s comments, and remarks from two of Ted’s students from his years at Ohio State--Tim Dempsey and Andy Fanta. Dempsey is a social activist and community organizer and Fanta is a sociologist-attorney who champions poor people.
Again, I want to thank you for inviting me to Columbia! It was a real pleasure to meet you.
Remembering Ted R. Vaughan
Larry T. Reynolds
Comments, Memorial celebrating Ted R. Vaughan, Columbia, Missouri, April 28, 2018
"If we are among the very fortunate, sometime in life we are inspired and gently guided by a person of extraordinary insight, character, competence, and kindness." (Gary Marx, 2018).
Ted R. Vaughan was such a person, and because he was, we -you and I -can certainly number ourselves among the very fortunate. Five and one-half decades ago, when I was but a callow youth of twenty-five, I first met Professor Vaughan. In four months I will be eighty. Hence, literally speaking, I knew him for the better part of my life. Figuratively speaking, knowing him has undoubtedly been a better part of that same life.
In the early 1960s, Janice Reynolds and I, with seventeen-month and six-day old daughters in tow, left Michigan to begin graduate studies at Ohio State University. With respect to theory, we first came under the influence of Roger Krohn, a bright student of Don Martindale's. He soon left for McGill University, and he arranged fellowships for us to follow him to Canada. We chose instead to remain at Ohio State and study theory with Ted. As budding sociologists, we made the best decision! Janice is not able to attend today's doings, but I feel safe in noting that, partially because of Ted's influence, she has had a fine career as sociologist, researcher, teacher, graduate school dean (Central Michigan University) and Provost (University of Alaska). Ted inspired self-confidence in us and in most of his students.
Ted, as most of you know, was the consummate instructor. The first component of sound pedagogy is an active mastery of one's subject matter. He had that in spades and so very much more. Both literally and figuratively, he knew what he was talking about. Students actually understood him. He clarified the complex without simultaneously rendering it simple-minded. As far as most of us at Ohio State were concerned, his attempt to inspire, stimulate, direct, and encourage all who sought to build up their competency as sociologists was unsurpassed. He was my best teacher, and because he was, I have sent students of mine to the University of Missouri to study with him. I am pleased to see one of the very best of them, Dr. Terry Haru, here today!
Ted and I began a period of co-authorship in the mid-1960s. It lasted through the publication of A Critique of Contemporary American Sociology in the mid-1990s. While Gideon Sjoberg and I collaborated with him, this was from start to finish Ted's book. His articles, even some of his earliest efforts, are still cited today (McGinty 2017). As an aside, I should note that the just-cited Patrick McGinty would be here today were it not for his being in Ft. Collins, Colorado, where a memorial celebration of the life of Ted's colleague Peter Hall is just now taking place.
In the 1980s Ted, James Otis Smith (of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee), and I occupied three mobile homes, plus a small trailer staffed with a desk, file cabinet, and ancient computer, in Rockport, Texas. We laughingly called this setup The Rockport Institute for Social Science Research. Lots of great grub, stiff drinks, and hearty laughs were had, and some pretty fair sociology rolled out of Rockport. Four books came out of the "Institute," and Ted was deeply involved with three of them. As a bonus, we got to spend some quality time with Ted's son, Teddy, whom we now regard as a real friend.
So, Dr. Ted R. Vaughan was a very good person, a fine teacher who taught much and actually learned from his students, and, in my opinion, he was also a very great sociologist! Enough said! But let me add three things about Ted that you may not know. These things may help to enhance our understanding of our departed friend, "because unless we understand the contradictory nature of human personality in class societies, we can never portray reality" (G. Rawick, 1968).
1. He springs from a devoutly religious family. His father was a minister. I bet that piece of information caught a few of you by surprise. Ted never talked about his background. Why? Because he believed you could be a moral person without being a religious one. He knew you could take moral stands on moral issues without turning everything into some kind of religious crusade.
2. He was a person of few words. "Of few words, you say. Surely you jest!" Not at all. Over the course of half a century, if you are at all attentive, you get to know a person. I spent a lot of time with Ted; I knew him well. Outside of the sociology convention, the lecture hall, and the classroom (including the classroom across the street to which we will adjourn momentarily), he said very little. He was indeed a man of few words, and already I miss them all. Perhaps you do too.
3. I will end with a story, here somewhat altered and even more embellished, told by Richard Henry Dana and propagated by Mark Twain in 1907. It is a tale of the skipper of a sloop christened the Mary Ann that plied the coastal waters off New England. It seems that the captain of this smallish boat developed the habit of crying out to passing vessels: What ship is that where from, how long out, what do you carry, and where are you bound? Each and every reply to his queries brought with it an increase in his sense of self-importance, until one day, he glimpsed a massive ship the likes of which he had never dreamed, let alone seen. He shouted out his typical queries, and from the bow of the magnificent ocean vessel a voice rolled out like thunder:
Tis "the Begum of Bengal, 142 days out from Canton," with a cargo of spices, tea, silk, jade, ivory, and hides, and homeward bound. " ... What ship is that?"
With knees shaking and voice trembling he answered:
"Only the Mary Ann, fourteen hours out from Boston, with nothing to speak of ... " and bound for nowhere in particular.
At that very moment and for the rest of his life he was to suffer from an incurable case of modesty.
And that brings me back to Professor Vaughan, for he too was a modest man. Vaughan modest, you say? No way! If you are a constant critic of the "received truth" of your generation, if you challenge without letup the folk wisdom of a society, wisdom you grew up with and that is telescoped into your very self, then you must have a fairly big ego. If not, you will not survive intellectually, or perhaps not even physically ..
Of course, Ted had a healthy ego. He needed it because he was a perpetual critic of many things, from distant structural arrangements to individuals in close proximity to him. His animadversions were numerous and, in rare cases, murderous. But you can possess a sizeable ego, have a mountain of self-confidence, and still be modest (unless you happen to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue). Ted was, sure enough, critical of others. But, as is characteristic of many modest people, he was also self-critical, and he was always harder on himself than he was on others. You may not agree that Ted was both quiet and modest. There is, however, one thing we can all agree on: He was a truly decent individual!
Setting all the rest of my chatter aside, in simple and direct language, here is what I am intent on saying today: While Professor Vaughan may have, at least occasionally, thought of himself as being "only the Mary Ann," to those of us who knew and loved him, he was always sociology's Begum of Bengal - eighty-plus years out from West Texas, with a cargo of wisdom, kindness, and moral courage, and bound for better climes.
In the end, we best honor our fallen comrade not by mourning his passing but by thanking him for the life he lived. After all, "The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude" (Thornton Wilder). So, thanks for everything. Ted. And thanks to all of you for your kind attention to the reminiscences of what the mirror now tells me is an old man!
As a graduate student inundated with sociology courses that counted things, attitudes, clusters of opinions, and various other miscellaneous objects that explained nothing to me Ted was a breath of well needed fresh air.
Through Ted I learned to think structurally! I learned how "thoughtways” were produced and how to question their means of production. It was electrifying and meaningful for me.
I am sorry to have to miss the get together on the 28th. Warm regards to all.
Ted was an inspiring teacher, whose passionate likes and dislikes were a formative influence on me. One rarely finds someone in a class who is able to convey scholarly feeling in such a powerful fashion. I was caught up in the same feelings, and they drove, and still drive, my own scholarship. He taught us to be skeptical of hierarchy in academia, to develop our own sense of what was right and valuable, and to be reflective about our positions. Moreover, Ted was a character, who we treated as a model and imitated in many ways-for example by working late at night, and thus becoming buddies with the janitor, the night watchman, and the others who lived this crepuscular life. I still remember the reading groups, the arguments,, and the sense of the importance of sociology to Ted, to the world, and the importance of the internal struggles within sociology to everything we did.
A few years ago a graduate student asked me a question no student had asked before-what motivated me? As I thought about it, I realized that it was the passions that Ted had so profoundly displayed-a desire to set things right, to bring down the arrogant, to refuse to give in. And though my passions had evolved, and had different targets, my initial attraction to Ted as a teacher and model reflected that same passion, one I hope I have passed on.
Remarks by Tim Dempsey
Please accept my apologies for not being able to attend Ted's memorial.
Larry Reynolds was kind enough to ask me to send a few lines regarding my remembrances of Ted.
As an undergraduate I met Ted through a reading course (one-on-one) based upon C.W. Mills' "The Sociological Imagination," - what a trip. Soon Ted became my advisor/mentor and I continued to take as many of his courses as possible. I spent 7 years at O.S.U. and had good/great professors. Ted was the best.
I remember the time AFSME was trying to organize the nonacademic employees into their Union. We students helped organize picket lines, fundraising, etc. I guess we raised enough hell that the media insisted upon a press conference. I was elected to talk to the press and did so with Ted at my side. During the Q and A that followed a reporter asked Ted how he was going to deal with the strike in terms of teaching classes, ect. Ted responded, "I've never crossed a picket line in my life and I'm not about to start now!"
It was a sad day when Ted and his "frozen colleagues" had to leave O.S.U. for warmer climes. Yet etched in my mind, still some 50 years later, is his insistence upon a lifelong quest for the development of a "Breadth of Perspective." I'm a long way from the Renaissance man I thought I would be by now, but Ted also taught the beauty of being a long distant runner. I'm still working at it.
While writing this brief note, a lot of memories come to mind too numerous to mention. So, have the good time Ted would have wanted you to have and I'm sorry I can't be there.