Donald Crummey


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URBANA – Donald Edward Crummey died on Friday (Aug. 16, 2013) at age 72; his life was shortened by cancer.

He was born Jan. 26, 1941, in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, son of Clarence and Dorothy, brother of Robert, Ida, Clare and James. His cousin, Kenneth Oakley, and family friend, Louise (Audet) Major, were raised as siblings.

In 1964, he married Lorraine, daughter of William and Hyacinth Legge. He and Lorraine had three children, Rebecca (married to Rick), Matthew (married to Courtney) and Naomi (married to Steve) and two unofficially adopted, Hiwote Tamrat (married to Reggie) and Jennifer Savage (married to Neil). He was an adoring grandfather to five grandchildren, Zoey, Siobhan, Valentin, Willa and Inigo.

Don and Lorraine's early marriage was spent in London and continued in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This time and continued relationship with friends and colleagues in Ethiopia profoundly enhanced the families' lives.

Donald was a man of great kindness, warmth, curiosity, faith and integrity, a loving son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and friend. He was generous with attention and affection, and committed to engaging with and supporting family and friends. He was very much loved.

Donald was almost as dedicated to his work as he was to his family. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1962 and completed his doctorate at the University of London in 1967. His formal career as a historian began at the then Haile Selassie University in Addis Ababa, where he taught from 1967 to 1973.

He then assumed a position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where his 10-year collaborative directorship led the Center of African Studies to the No. 1 ranking in the United States and extended rigorous African Studies programs beyond the African continent.

His thorough and creative scholarship on the history of Ethiopia earned him international acclaim and grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Fulbright African Regional Research Program. His meticulously collected data leave a legacy to be mined by future scholars, and his books and articles are standard references.

During his field research on the Ethiopian famine of 1984-85, Donald's scholarship expanded to include multi-disciplinary themes including environmental studies, which led him to create, with colleagues, the first courses on environmental history at the UI.

He valued and respected student work very highly, and his teaching skills and mentorship of graduate students were recognized by students, his peers and university administrators. His retirement in 2006 provided him more time to devote to another of his great loves: baseball. Go Blue Jays!

Requiescat in Pace.

A requiem Mass will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 21, at 3:30 p.m. at The Chapel of St. John the Divine, Champaign.

In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, memorial contributions can be made to: a charity of choice; The Chapel of St. John the Divine; The College of Wooster (in Ohio); and Save the Males (cancer research) at UCH Foundation/STM, c/o Leprino Building, 12401 E. 17th Ave., Maile Stop F485, Aurora, CO 80045.

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