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In Memoriam: Colin Chase (1935-84)


A Remembrance by A.G. Rigg and Paul E. Szarmach

Colin Robert Chase, Associate Professor of English and a faculty member of St. Michael's College and the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, died of cancer on October 13, 1984.

Born in Denver, Colorado in 1935, Chase received his B.A. at Harvard in 1956, and for five years attended a Jesuit seminary, studying classics and philosophy. He completed M.A. degrees at the University of St. Louis and

Johns Hopkins University in 1962 and 1964, and his Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in 1971. Chase started at University of Toronto as a part-time instructor in 1967 and became assistant professor in 1971 and associate professor four years later. His promotion to professor was under way this autumn.

Chase was known for his work on Old English and Anglo-Latin literature. He was chairman of the Centre's Medieval Latin Committee from 1977 to 1984, and one of its most active and dedicated teaching members. His principal research interest was in the Pre-Conquest literature of England. He wrote eight articles, including the forthcoming essays on "Beowulf , Bede and St. Oswine: the Hero's Pride in Old English Hagiography" and "Source Study as a Trick with Mirrors: Annihilation of Meaning in the OE 'Mary of Egypt'." He contributed articles to

the Dictionary of the Middle Ages on Anglo-Saxon and Latin subjects and wrote reviews for several journals. He was the chief reviewer of the Beowulf section in OEN's The Year's Work in Old English Studies, offering his balanced judgment since 1976 on the dozens of articles and books written annually in this important sub-field. His major pUblications were his scholarly edition of Two Alcuin Letter-Books and the edited collection, The Dating of Beowulf. Chase's interest in teaching was evident from the wide variety of courses he taught, the numbers of students he supervised on the doctoral level, and his active contributions to three videotapes produced by the Toronto Media Centre, most notably the popular "The Sutton-Hoo Ship-Burial." At his death he was working on a comprehensive study of the lives of the saints and had begun a new series of editions of Pre-Conquest saints' lives. He was an administrative committee member of the project to revise Ogilvy's Books Known to the English.

He maintained close contact with the Roman Catholic Church, in which he was a Deacon and an active participant in the diaconate training program. Theater also held a great interest for Chase. His acting ability (which almost led to a stage career) was evident in many amateur roles on campus.

Colin is survived by his wife Joyce and his children Deirdre, Robert, Tim, Mary, and Patrick.

A memorial fund has been established in Colin's name with the purpose of promoting medieval studies. The precise use of the fund will depend on the amount of money generated and will be decided by a committee of the Centre for Medieval Studies consisting at present of Joyce Chase, Stan McLellan, George Rigg, Michael Sheehan, and Elizabeth Stevens. Suggestions have included travel bursaries for students, pUblication subventions, book purchases, and a memorial lecture. In the meantime, an annual donation to the Centre for a student award (currently amounting to $2000 per annum) has been renamed "The Colin Chase Award." The memorial fund will be administered by the University of Toronto's Office of Private Funding, which will issue tax-deductible receipts. Cheques should be made payable to the Colin Chase Memorial Fund (University of Toronto) and mailed directly to the Office of Private Funding, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1A1. We hope that the Fund will be a lasting commemoration of Colin and his work.

OEN 18.2 (1985): 18.