In Memoriam

Frederick Payne Watts (1904-2007)

Frederick Payne Watts, long-time Howard University faculty member and the first African American to earn a doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania, died last month from congestive heart failure. He was 103 years old.

Watts was a native of Staunton, Virginia, and graduated from Washington’s elite Dunbar High School in 1922. He enrolled at Howard University, planning to pursue a career in ophthalmology but changed his major to psychology. After earning a master’s degree in psychology at Howard, he taught for one year at Kittrell College in North Carolina. In 1928 he joined the Howard faculty and remained there for the rest of his career except for when he served in the military. When Watts earned his Ph.D. in 1941 at Penn, he was only the fourth African American in the entire nation to have been awarded a doctorate in psychology. Watts was the founder of the Howard University Counseling Service. He retired from Howard in 1970.

Kenneth Gray (1952-2007)

Kenneth Gray, a professor of business and industry at Florida A&M University, died while leading a rock-climbing expedition in Tennessee. Professor Gray apparently suffered a heart attack and was found on top of a cliff by other climbers. He was 55 years old.

Gray grew up in Philadelphia and was a graduate of New York University, where he majored in civil engineering. He earned a master’s degree and an MBA from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in administration and management from Walden University.

Frederick Douglass Hall Jr. (1937-2007)

Frederick Douglass Hall Jr., who was a professor of theater at Spelman College in Atlanta, died last month from complications of multiple sclerosis. He was 70 years old.

A native of New Orleans, Professor Hall was the son of African-American composer Frederick Douglass Hall Sr. Professor Hall held a master of fine arts degree from Boston University and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

At Spelman, Hall directed more than 30 student productions over a 10-year period. While at Spelman, he wrote theater reviews for the Atlanta Daily World.

Robert J. Cummings  (1940-2007)

Robert J. Cummings, who taught African studies at Howard University for 31 years, has died from complications of cancer. He was 67 years old.

Professor Cummings was recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on African economic development. He was the first African American to serve as president of the 30,000-member African Studies Association.

Cummings was a graduate of Florida A&M University where he majored in European history. After college he taught high school history in Florida before pursuing a master’s degree at North Carolina Central University. He later taught at Winston-Salem State University and the University of Nairobi. In 1975 Cummings earned his Ph.D. in African economic history at UCLA. He then joined the Howard University faculty and until recently chaired the university’s African studies department.