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Message on Richard B. Sherman

Provost Michael R. Halleran sent the following message to the campus community Sept. 26, 2018. - Ed.

Dear colleagues,

I write to share the news that Richard B. Sherman, Pullen Professor of History, Emeritus, died on September 22, 2018 at the age of 88.  Professor Sherman began his teaching career in 1957 as an Instructor in History at Pennsylvania State University. In 1960 he was appointed Assistant Professor of History at William & Mary, which remained his academic home until his retirement in 1994.  Promoted to Full Professor in 1970, he was named Chancellor Professor of History in 1987 and William E. Pullen Professor of History in 1992.  During the 1966-1967 academic year he was a Fulbright Professor at the University of Stockholm in Sweden.  In 1975 he was elected an honorary member of the Alpha of Virginia Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.  He received his bachelor’s degree with high honors from Harvard University, M.A. degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and Ph.D. in History from Harvard.  From 1952 to 1954 he was on active duty in the United States Army.

At William & Mary, Sherman was well-known for his wry humor and exacting standards, as well as for his Yankee perspective and Boston accent.  His research, writing, and teaching focused primarily on late nineteenth- and twentieth-century American history.  He published numerous scholarly articles and a number of books, including The Negro and the City, The Republican Party and Black America from McKinley to Hoover, 1896 to 1933, and The Case of Odell Waller and Virginia Justice, 1940-1942.  He was also a co-author of The College of William and Mary, A History, which was published in 1993 to commemorate the university’s tercentenary.  During his years at William & Mary, Sherman served on a large number of elected and appointed committees, was Chair of the Department of History from 1969 to 1972, and Director of the department’s graduate program from 1972 to 1976.  He was particularly proud of his efforts to develop a library for the Department of History, and he served as its librarian for some 25 years until his retirement.

Sherman married Hanna (Fechenbach) Fey in 1952, whom he met while they were working as summer camp counselors in Putney, Vermont.  He is survived by his loving wife of 66 years; children Linda Kimel (Sam) of Rockford, IL and Alan Sherman (Pam Steele) of Washington, D.C.; grandchildren Greg, Chris and Steven Kimel, William Sherman, Julie Sherman-Steele, three great-grandchildren; and sister Elizabeth Sherman Swing of Concord, MA.

A memorial service will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 3051 Ironbound Road, on Sunday, October 7 at 4pm.  In lieu of flowers contributions may be sent to the Friends of the Williamsburg Regional Library, 515 Scotland Street, Williamsburg, VA 23185.