In Memoriam: Ronald M. H. Shepherd (1925-2016)

A former member of our department, Professor Emeritus Ronald M. H. Shepherd passed away on Wednesday May 18, 2016 in his ninety-first year. The cremation took place in a private ceremony on Tuesday May 24, 2016. Details can be found in Saturday’s Globe & Mail obituary.

R. M. H. Shepherd was born in 1925 at St. Kitts in what was then the British West Indies. From 1935 to 1944 he frequented Harrison College in Barbados, where he took special interest in Greek, Latin and Ancient History and Literature. He was awarded the Barbados Scholarship to go to Oxford or Cambridge in 1945 and that same year entered St. John’s College, Cambridge. He graduated with a BA in 1948 in the Classical Tripos. One post-graduate year was spent at Cambridge, combined with short periods at the British Schools in Rome and Athens; the MA degree was acquired in 1952.

A few years before that, in 1949, Ronald Shepherd joined the Classics staff at University College in Toronto, where he held the position of Lecturer in Greek from 1949-1956. He was Assistant Professor 1956-1962, Associate Professor 1962-1966, and was promoted to Full Professor in 1966. During the period 1961-1970 he was the University College Registrar.

During his long academic career, Ronald Shepherd served the academic community in many other capacities. He was Chairman of the UTFA Committee on University Government 1971-1972 and member for Humanities of the UofT Governing Council 1972-1973. He was also responsible for the liaision with secondary schools 1956-1963, when he was in charge of the Greek Sight Competition and contributed to organizing the Latin Verse-Reading contests. He was Acting Principal of University College 1980-1981. He retired in 1991 and continued to teach courses for our department until the mid-1990s.

Among the topics of his many addresses to various societies on Homer and Greek Tragedy are found “The Human Comedy of Euripides”, “East vs. West — the Voyages of Odysseus”, “Rhythms and Sound-Effects in Greek Epic and Dramatic Poetry”, and “Time and Change in Homer”. Those who remember him personally testify to his phenomenal knowledge of ancient Greek. The University Archives preserve the registration of an interview made with Ron Shepherd by Valerie Schatzker covering the time from his education in Barbados until 1984-1985 when the interview was made. The length of the recording is 502 minutes.

Christer Bruun, Professor and Chair
Department of Classics
University of Toronto