Remembering Prof. Ross Kilpatrick
Principal Daniel Woolf shares fond memories of one of the University's most eminent - and beloved - scholars
I first met Prof. Ross Kilpatrick when I took, as an elective, his first-year Latin course in the fall of 1978. As a third-year history student interested in the Renaissance era, I had had some high school Latin, but knew I had to get the language up to a higher level.
I recall that the class had about 40 or 50 students in it, but there was no hiding in the crowd. Rarely simply lecturing, Ross was always after us to demonstrate command of the latest lesson, whether it be the ablative absolute or the correct declension of a particular noun. Woe to him or her who was not well prepped. But even when he had to chide, he did so in a very gentle manner, his characteristic smile in evidence. This made him especially well liked among the Classics professors at Queen’s (a genial lot to begin with).
Though I was scarcely a star Latinist, (and have regrettably lost much of what I learned from him), we kept in touch sporadically over the past three decades, and Ross was among the first to drop me a note on the occasion of my return to Queen’s in 2009.
I was staggered not only by the sheer weight of his post-retirement scholarly output, but also at its breadth: from antiquity he had stretched himself in new directions, especially including art history of the Renaissance and modern eras. He continued to teach.
I was, sadly, quite literally reading an offprint of his latest essay (on Gustav Klimt) when the e-mail bearing the sad news of his passing arrived on my screen. As more than one colleague has said since then, Ross was the model of a constructive and balanced use of one’s retirement.
Requiescat in pacem.
Daniel Woolf, Artsci'80, Kingston, ON
Prof. Emeritus (Classics) Ross Kilpatrick died on Feb. 24 at the age of 77. The above letter, written by the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University as a personal tribute to Ross Kilpatrick, was originally published in The Globe and Mail on March 29, 2012, as an “I Remember” column. – Ed.