Aaron William Godfrey, Rara Avis, RIP

Glenn Ricketts

The National Association of Scholars mourns the passing of long-time member Aaron “Bill” Godfrey, who passed away earlier this month. He was 91 years of age and had been a member of NAS almost from its inception.

Bill attended our first national conference at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan in November 1988 and was also an early member of our New York state affiliate. He was a natural fit for NAS: For more than 50 years he was the rarest of rare birds as the sole instructor of Latin in the Department of European Languages at SUNY Stony Brook. He had left a far more lucrative career in finance and banking and followed an irresistible vocation to teach classics, which he began to do at Stony Brook in 1965. In that capacity, he kept the “dead” language very much alive and lively for several generations of secondary school Latinists who stayed connected with their former magister through the regular meetings of the Suffolk Classical Society which he hosted in his home. A prolific scholar, Bill was the author of Medieval Mosaic, a Latin textbook, along with hundreds of articles in both academic and popular venues. He also served as president of Stony Brook’s faculty senate, as a member of the President’s Council of the Stony Brook Museum and, with his wife, as co-president of the Long Island Symphonic Choral Association.

We are very grateful for Bill’s long association with the NAS and for his yeoman service in promoting and preserving one of the pillars of traditional liberal arts education. Requiescat in Pace: Lingua Latina Manet in Aeternam.


Photo credit: Stony Brook University, College of Arts and Sciences

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