Chestertown, MD, March 14, 2007 — Nancy Ruth Tatum, a Shakespearian scholar and a long-time professor of English literature at Washington College, died at Mercy Medical Center in Daphne, Alabama, on February 26, 2007, after a lengthy illness. She was 76.
Dr. Tatum received her B.A. from the University of Arkansas in 1952, her M.A. from Bryn Mawr College in 1954 and her Ph.D from Bryn Mawr College in 1960.
That year, she joined the English Department at Washington College, where she taught for 38 years. She was presented with the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1975 and was named the Ernest A. Howard Professor of English Literature in 1979. Upon her retirement in 1998, she was hailed as a vigorously independent spirit who spoke out for the causes of academic freedom and faculty rights. English Chair Richard Gillin called hers "the voice of tradition and duty" who "reminded us of our responsibility to bring students up to a higher standard of writing and thinking. During her time as Chair of the English Department she helped guide the development of a college-wide writing requirement and then made sure that we in the English Department developed rigorous Forms courses. That distinctive voice heard among the faculty and administration was also heard in different ways by students, who ... attest to the special gift she had given them through her courses on Shakespeare."
Dr. Tatum is survived by several nieces, nephews and other relatives. Graveside services will be held at the family plot in Anderson, MO, at a future date.
Memorials may be made to a scholarship to be established at Washington College in Dr. Tatum's name.