Arthur F. Stocker (2010)

Arthur Frederick Stocker was born in Bethlehem, PA, on January 24, 1914. His family moved to New York City when Arthur was five and he retained the elegance, charm, and cheerful cosmopolitan Republicanism that bespeak the silk-stocking Manhattan of his youth. He attended the public schools there, graduating from George Washington High School in 1930. He graduated from Williams College summa cum laude then was on to Harvard where he received an M.A. in 1935 and a Ph.D. in 1939. At Harvard, one of his teachers, Edward Kennard Rand was at work on the manuscripts of Servius and he directed dissertations on Servius for a number of students, including John J.H. Savage, Frederic Wheelock, and Arthur, among others. These dissertations earned their authors co-editing credit on the first volume of the "Harvard Servius" in 1946. Arthur wrote a vivid and sympathetic account of Rand for The American Scholar in 1982. With his Sheldon Travelling Fellowship for 1939-40 was canceled with the outbreak of war, Arthur took a position at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, but was eventually called up for service in 1942. He spent most of the war in the headquarters of the Second Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as an Historical Officer. In 1946 he began his career at the University of Virginia, serving until 1984, with stints as chair of the Classics Department (1955-63; 1968-78), Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (1962-6), secretary of the academic faculty and secretary of the general faculty. He was President of the Classical Association of Virginia (1949-52), the Southern Section of CAMWS (1961-3), and CAMWS (1970-71). Past the age of 50, Arthur married Marian West, a Latin teacher at St. Catherine's School in Richmond upon her retirement in 1968. She died on July 3, 1997. Arthur was a devoted member of many cultural and historic preservation societies in Charlottesville and could give unforgettable tours of the campus and the University cemetery. At the time of his death he was the senior ex-president of CAMWS and the last of the "Harvard Servius" group. He died peacefully at the great age of 95 at the Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge on January 13, 2010.

Additional Obituary

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    An Ode to Professor Arthur Frederick Stocker

    Once upon a midday dreary, while he pondered, weak and weary,
    Over many a Greek and Latin volume of forgotten lore–
    While he nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
    As of someone gently rapping, rapping at his office door.
    “ ‘Tis some first-year man,” he muttered, “tapping at my office door.”
    “. . . Excuse me, sir–I’m Rick LaFleur.”

    Ah, distinctly I recall–it was in New Cabell Hall,
    Where his nameplate on the wall proudly “A. F. Stocker” bore.
    “Is this where I sign for Latin?” “It is–come in!” Then I sat in-
    Side his office with him, chatting all about his “Latin Four.”
    “Eighty lines a day at least is where we start in Latin Four–
    Increased weekly, evermore!”

    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
    “Sir,” said I, “Professor Stocker, your forgiveness I implore;
    But I guess I have been napping, and so gently you've been rapping,
    And so faintly you’ve been rapping, rapping ‘bout your Latin Four,
    That I scarce was sure I heard you–eighty lines in Latin Four?
    Increased weekly, evermore?”

    All around his bookshelves peering, long I sat there wondering, fearing,
    Dreaming dreams no Latin student ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, the which professor gave no token,
    And the only words there spoken were the whispered words, “And more!”
    This then was our first encounter, back in nineteen sixty-four;
    I took the course and signed for more . . ..

    Months later to his office turning, Servian soul within him burning,
    Arthur Frederick heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said he, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
    Let me see, then, what thereat is”; nothing there, he tried the door.
    “Excuse me, sir. I’ve come to major,” quaked the trembling sophomore.
    “Sign here, lad . . . forevermore!”

    Two decades thence I flung the shutter of my window, when aflutter
    In there stepped a stately Raven of the classic days of yore.
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door–
    Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door–
    Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

    Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
    By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore;
    “Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
    Edgar Poe’s symbolic Raven, winging from Virginia’s shore–
    Tell me who ‘twas most instilled my love of Classics, I implore.”
    “Arthur Stocker . . . evermore.”

    Richard A. LaFleur, semper discipulus illius, University of Georgia, 1984 (composed on the occasion of Arthur's "retirement" in 1984 and recited at a banquet in his honor at CAMWS in Williamsburg, Virginia; Arthur and I were members of UVa's Raven Society)