Former longtime classics professor Reynold Burrows dies at 95

January 25, 2017

Sweet Briar mourns the loss of Professor Emeritus Reynold L. Burrows, who died peacefully on Nov. 13, 2016, in Ashland, Ore. He was 95.

Reynold L. Burrows taught at Sweet Briar from 1962 to 1982.

Reynold L. Burrows taught at Sweet Briar from 1962 to 1982.

Burrows came to Sweet Briar College in 1962 as an associate professor of classical studies, teaching Greek and Latin. He was promoted to full professor in 1977 and retired in 1982.

Born in Boston on May 19, 1921, Burrows was attending Harvard University when World War II broke out. Due to his proficiency in the study of languages, he was selected for intensive training by the Military Intelligence Language School at the University of Michigan and subsequently served as a U.S. Army military intelligence officer with the 309th Interpreters Detachment in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. A Japanese translator/interpreter stationed in Manila, he was among the first to enter Japan at the end of the war.

Burrows completed his B.A. in classics at Harvard after the war and later earned his master’s from the University of Michigan in Latin and Greek. He went on to teach at the University of Utah, where he met his wife of 61 years, Diane A. Burrows. He then joined the classics department at Princeton University as the John Howell Wescott Fellow, earning his Ph.D. in 1956.

After teaching at Miami University, the University of Colorado and San Francisco State College, Burrows landed at Sweet Briar, where he served as chairman of the classics department. In addition to ancient Greek, Latin and classical history, Burrows taught French, German, Italian, Japanese and Sanskrit. During and after his tenure at Sweet Briar, he was active as a visiting professor for the College Year in Athens Program in Greece and as a visiting lecturer at Harvard, Brown, Oxford University, the Theresien Gymnasium in Munich, Trinity College in Dublin and Humboldt University in Berlin. He also taught at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, where he lectured in French on the Greek Drama of Euripides.

Burrows was an avid lover of music, an accomplished amateur pianist, and a student of the flute and cello. “Possessed of an encyclopedic mind, he had practically total recall of most of the classical music repertoire and history,” according to his obituary. He served as a board member and long-time supporter of the Newport Music Festival in Newport, R.I.

Burrows is survived by his two sons, Adam and Tristram, who remember him fondly as a “demanding teacher, who nevertheless was a generous grader and a tenderhearted soul.”

Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Newport Music Festival and to Sweet Briar College.

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