In Memoriam: Mark Golden (1948-2020)

Shared with permission, this lovely obituary from Pauline Ripat:

Mark pursued his BA, MA, and PhD at the University of Toronto, graduating with his doctorate in 1981. After a two-year position at UBC (1980–1982), he joined the Department of Classics at the University of Winnipeg. He remained there until his retirement in 2015, when the became a Professor Emeritus. Mark was a valued member not only of the Department of Classics, but of the University community as a whole thanks to his committee work, involvement in the union, and support of social action. He was a renowned and esteemed member of the Canadian and international Classics community.

As a scholar, Mark was best-known for his ground-breaking work in the areas of ancient Greek childhood, Greek sport, and gender. No less prolific than innovative, he authored four books and co-edited three more, published more than 50 articles and book chapters, and reviewed more than 50 books. But Mark’s interests extended far beyond the field of Classics. Few were better read in literature of every stripe than Mark, more up-to-date on current affairs, or more interested in the events of his friends’ and colleagues’ lives. Mark was one who lived his political views, actively engaging in community organizations seeking social justice both in Canada and abroad. He was an inveterate supporter of Classics in Canada, and was, in his own words, so pleased and honoured to be chosen as the Honorary President of the Classical Association of Canada, a position he held for the last two years. (An additional detail in which many will recognize Mark: having attempted without success to get the city of Winnipeg to spell “Honorable” without the extraneous “u” in its street signs, he was especially gratified that the CAC spells “Honorary” correctly.)

Mark always preferred to focus on others rather than on himself. In fact, he seemed to know everyone. He had an extraordinary ability to recall names, faces, and circumstances, and possessed an incredible gift for discovering shared interests, which he recalled with unwavering constancy. Mark knew those whom he had not yet had the pleasure of meeting in person by their work or by their colleagues; he knew those whom he had met by their work and by details of their lives completely unrelated to their professions. Many have received an email – or series of emails over the years – whenever Mark came across reference to the sport, musician, author, or political figure they happened to discuss during a session break fifteen years ago. Mark had, or made, time for everyone. After being diagnosed with the cancer that would eventually claim his life, he always skillfully directed conversation away from his illness, treating it like a book which had a point but which he didn’t like very much. Mark preferred to focus on subjects he enjoyed, and continued to discuss them so insightfully and humorously that it was often difficult to remember that he was ill.

Mark was the devoted and proud father of Max Golden, the delighted grandfather of Owen Markus Golden, whose recent arrival was a particular source of pleasure to Mark in his final weeks, and the fortunate partner of Jo-Anne Douglas, whose tireless support of Mark throughout his illness is known to all who have been in contact with Mark over the last seventeen months. Mark is a sorely missed colleague, friend, and scholar, identities which he embodied in such equal measures that it is necessary to list them alphabetically lest one appear to take precedence. Mark would have undoubtedly objected to the length and detail of this notice, brief though it is in comparison to the fullness of the life lived. In the economy of sentiment Mark preferred, then: there was no one like Mark.