Dr. Dell H. Hymes, dean of the Graduate School of Education from 1975-1987, passed away November 13, 2009, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 82 years old.
Prior to coming to Penn, Dr. Hymes held appointments at the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard University. Dr. Hymes joined the Penn faculty in 1965 as professor of folklore and linguistics and of anthropology. Before becoming dean, he had also served as professor of sociology and was associated with the University’s graduate groups in communications and in the history and sociology of science. As dean, Dr. Hymes started the linguistics program in GSE. He left in 1987 to serve on the faculty at the University of Virginia in both the anthropology and English departments. He retired from there in 1998 as an emeritus professor.
Throughout his career, Dr. Hymes had taught classes in linguistic anthropology, Native American mythology, ethno-poetics and Native American poetry. He was the author of several books including Language in Culture and Society, Foundations in Sociolinguistics: An Ethnographic Approach, Studies in the History of Linguistic Anthropology and the most recent Now I Know Only So Far: Essays in Ethnopoetics.
After interrupting his studies to serve in the Army in World War II, Dr. Hymes graduated from Reed College in 1950. He went on to earn his doctorate in linguistics from Indiana University in 1955.
Dr. Hymes is survived by his wife, Virginia; four children, Vicky Unruh, Robert Hymes, Alison Hymes, and Kenneth Hymes; five grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and a brother, Corwin Hymes.
Memorial donations may be made to the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice (CCPJ), P.O. Box 3381, Charlottesville, VA 22903.