I wrote last week about the passing of folklorist Archie Green. Here’s a memory of him by Elaine Lawless, the president of the American Folklore Society, sent out to its members:
I want to join my voice to the others that have responded to the passing of Archie Green. Like so many of you, I have a personal connection to Archie and will miss his presence in the world. However, I also know his spirit and his legacy will stay with us as long as we live–and beyond.
Archie was my teacher at the University of Illinois when I was a young MA student in English. I took his classes, along with those taught by John Flanagan and Larry Danielson. During a time when we, as graduate students, were seeking relevance and meaning in our courses and career choices, the folklore courses resonated for me in life-changing ways. I remember dropping several English classes one semester in order to take more courses in folklore–and the rest is history. I’ve never regretted those decisions to move into folklore studies, and clearly the guidance I had from Archie has left within me a persistent concern for human rights and social justice within the field. He was an inspiring teacher, mentor, and friend. He taught us how to be better than we thought we could be; he taught us how to fight for folklife in the academy and in the public sector, in government, and in the lives of ordinary people. He was never pompous. With true sincerity he walked the walk and talked the talk of the common person with a clear purpose.
In these difficult economic times, we can remember the fire of Archie’s convictions and his powers of persuasion. We might aspire to be true Archie Green descendants as we plan together for the present in ways that protect the past and look forward to the future. Together we can celebrate a life that was never boring, always passionate, and, in the end, highly successful. We could do no better than emulate Archie Green.
With warm wishes for you all in a time of sadness,
President, American Folklore Society