Obituary: R. Dean Ware, professor emeritus of History

Ronald Dean Ware, 80, of Sunderland, professor emeritus of History, died at home on April 4.

Born in Dayton, Ky., he grew up in the slums of Cincinnati, Ohio, during the height of the Great Depression. He took a city-wide scholarship test as a high school senior, earning the smallest amount awarded that year. It was enough to pay for most of a single semester at the University of Cincinnati, which he expected would be the extent of his education. He paid for the next three years of college by working at a factory every night, often sleeping on a cot in the factory’s office when he had class the next morning.

He graduated magna cum laude with a degree in history in 1950 and was accepted by the University of Cincinnati as a graduate student. After only one semester, he was drafted into the Army, serving until 1953. The GI Bill allowed him to resume his education and in 1960 he graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison with a doctorate in medieval history.

His academic career started at Texas Technical College before moving to Illinois State University. A temporary position in the UMass Amherst History Department became permanent in 1964 and he remained a member of the faculty for the next 36 years. During his 40-year career, he was regarded as one of the authorities in the field of medieval history. His articles and reviews appeared in Studies in Medieval Culture, The New Catholic Encyclopedia, Handbook of World History, Introduction to Medieval Studies, The Journal of Economic History, Speculum and American Historical Review.

He held the presidency of both the Midwest Medieval History Conference and the New England Medieval Conference and in 1970-71, was a Fulbright Professor at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

In 1995, he won the Outstanding Teacher Award from the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.

He retired in 2000 and was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in late 2007.

He leaves two children from his second marriage, Benjamin Selkirk Ware and Katherine Chase Phillips; another son, Patrick Donald Graves, and three grandchildren. A son from his first marriage died in 1989.

A gathering in his memory will be announced at a later date.