In Memoriam

Edgar F. Beckham (1933-2006)

Edgar F. Beckham, the first African American to serve as dean of the college at Wesleyan University, died late last month after suffering a stroke. He was 72 years old.

A native of Hartford, Connecticut, in 1951 Beckham enrolled in the undergraduate program at Wesleyan University. He took a pre-med curriculum and edited the student newspaper. After his junior year, Beckham served for three years in the U.S. Army training as a neuropsychiatric technician. He returned to Wesleyan to earn his bachelor’s degree in 1958. He went on to earn a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Germanic studies at Yale.

Beckham joined the Wesleyan University faculty in 1961 as an instructor in German. He served in various faculty and administrative posts for the next three decades. He was dean of the college from 1973 to 1990. Dean Beckham was also instrumental in establishing an African-American studies program at the university.

Lillian Martin Yeager (1944-2006)

Lillian Martin Yeager, dean of nursing at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Indiana, died late last month from ovarian cancer. She was 62 years old.

A graduate of Tuskegee University, Dean Yeager earned a master’s degree from Wayne State University and held a doctorate in educational leadership from Spalding University. She joined the faculty of Indiana University Southeast in 1973 as an assistant professor of nursing and remained on the faculty for the remainder of her life. She was named dean in 2002.

Lucius R. Weathersby (1968-2006)

Lucius R. Weathersby, one of the nation’s leading experts on composers of African descent and an assistant professor of music and African studies at Dillard University, has died from a stroke at a hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was 37 years old. At the time of his death Weathersby had left the hurricane-ravaged campus of Dillard to serve as a visiting professor at Amherst College.

A native of Houston, Texas, Weathersby earned a bachelor’s degree at Dillard University with a double major in music and German. He went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa and a doctorate from the Union Institute in Cincinnati. He joined the Dillard faculty in 1997.

A concert organist, Weathersby released a series of CDs featuring the works of African and African-American composers. He was the founder of the International Consortium for the Music of Africa and Its Diaspora.

Paul B. McGirt Jr.  (1927-2006)

Paul B. McGirt Jr., the longtime professor of French and director of the study-abroad program at Clark Atlanta University, died recently from complications of a fall. He was 79 years old.

A native of Camden, South Carolina, McGirt received a master’s degree in French from North Carolina Central University and studied for his doctorate at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Professor McGirt joined the Clark Atlanta faculty in 1957 and retired 35 years later in 1992. He had the reputation as a gifted but tough professor. Once he taught a class in which his younger brother was enrolled. He gave his brother a grade of F.