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Trent University Mourns Death of Professor Emeritus Gordon Roper

The Trent University community was saddened to learn that Professor Emeritus Gordon Roper, formerly of the Department of English Literature, passed away over the weekend. Professor Roper died peacefully in his home at Applewood Manor. Friends may call at the Comstock Funeral Home, 356 Rubidge Street on Wednesday, February 23 from 7:00 - 9:00 pm. A funeral service will be held in the chapel on Thursday, February 24 at 1:00 pm. Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to CNIB Talking Books or to the Roper Bursary Fund at Trent University.

Professor Roper's career as a professor of English Literature spanned two countries and several universities. He taught for six years at his alma mater, the University of Chicago, one year at Yale, 23 years at the University of Toronto's Trinity College, and at Trent University from 1969 to 1975. Having spent his childhood and young adult years in Peterborough, it was a satisfying and rewarding experience for him to spend the last six years of his teaching career at Trent.

"Trent was just a few years old when I came and there was such excitement about this new university," recalled Prof. Roper in an interview for Focus Trent last year. "There were people here with a dream and it was very exciting to be a part of that."

In 2004, the Gordon Roper Bursary Fund was established to honour Prof. Roper's life and his commitment to Trent. During the same year, a celebration of his life was held at the Art Gallery of Peterborough. A major conference on Canadian Literature was held in his honour at the time of his retirement from Trent.

Prof. Roper researched and wrote extensively on a number of subjects in American and Canadian Literature, including Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Robertson Davies. He was a founding member of the Melville Society and an advisor to the Centre for the Editing of Early Canadian Texts. He was a key figure in the building of the Shell Collection of Canadian Literature for Bata Library at Trent University. Some of his papers, much of his fine library especially regarding Twain and Walt Whitman, some Edward Caddy paintings and rare maps were donated to the Trent University Archives.

Despite his failing health and eyesight, Prof. Roper retained his passion for the novels and texts that inspired his life's work. Loyal colleagues and friends, including members of the Department of  English Literature and Peterborough Mayor Sylvia Sutherland, ensured that each day someone was by his side to read to him.

"Gordon Roper was a teacher and mentor to many of us in the Department," Professor James Neufeld, chair of the Department of English Literature said today. "We count ourselves lucky to have had him as a colleague, and even luckier to count him as a friend."

Prof. Roper is predeceased by his wife, Helen Caddy Roper, and survived by his two children, Susan Lawrence and Mark Roper.

Posted February 21, 2005

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