In Memoriam: Vere Chappell (1930 - 2019)
Monday, February 4, 2019
Monday, February 4, 2019
It is with great sadness that we report the death of Vere Chappell, Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Philosophy. Vere Claiborne Chappell, born in Rochester, New York on March 22, 1930 died in North Adams, Massachusetts on January 28, 2019. His wife, Sheryl Chappell predeceased him. He leaves six children: Jennifer Chappell, Jonathan Chappell, David Chappell, Vere Chappell, Addison Chappell, Misa Chappell and two-step children, Clayton Templin and Jamie Amby.
Vere was a member of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1970 until 2006, when he retired as an Emeritus Professor. Vere entered Yale University in 1947 and remained there until 1957, earning a BA in 1952, an MA in 1953 and a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1958. He began his teaching career as an Instructor at the University of Chicago in 1957, passing through the customary ranks to Professor in 1968. He joined the Department of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1970 as its Head and served in that position until 1974 when he was appointed Acting Dean of the Graduate School and Acting Associate Provost. He served as Associate Provost until 1978 at which time he returned to his teaching career full time.
Vere was remarkably successful in his academic career both as a scholar/teacher and also as an administrator. He earned many awards for his academic work including a Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Humanities, and a Research Tools Grant from the same source. He received a grant from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and a fellowship from the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities at the University of Massachusetts. He accepted invitations to serve as visiting professor at Indiana University, the University of Illinois-both Chicago and Urbana, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Southern California, as well as at other members of the Five College system, including Smith, Mount Holyoke and Amherst Colleges.
Vere’s published work in Philosophy includes a striking number of works as editor, which have become standards in their field:
The Cambridge Companion to Locke (Cambridge University Press, 1994)
The Philosophy of David Hume (Modern Library, 1963)
Twenty-five Years of Descartes Scholarship, 1960-1984: A Bibliography, with Willis Doney (Garland Press, 1987)
Clearly, the heart of his contributions to scholarship is contained in articles in scholarly books and journals. His work can be divided in to what we might call the Chicago period work focusing on metaphysical problems concerning identity, change and individuation, and what we might call the UMass period work focusing on problems arising in the history of early modern philosophy. There is an overlap in the work of the two periods: Vere’s interest in the philosophers of the early modern period often focuses on their contributions to the subject matter that concerned him in the first period. Work in early modern philosophy has become so specialized recently that it is unusual for a practitioner to be a leading scholar of more than one early modern figure. Vere was one of the few. He was a leader in studies of both Descartes and Locke.
His contributions to early modern scholarship are acknowledged in a first rate festschrift, Contemporary Perspectives on Early Modern Philosophy: Essays in Honor of Vere Chappell, edited by Paul Hoffman, David Owen and Gideon Yaffe (Broadview Press, 2008)
Philosophy graduate students, faculty and members of the legion of Vere and Sheryl enjoyed their hospitality, especially at dinners featuring items from Vere’s garden and Sheryl’s extraordinary cooking.
His colleagues and friends will surely miss him.