As I mentioned earlier today on Twitter, my friend Randy Howarth passed away on Sunday on his boat in Florida. Professor of ancient history at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., Randy spent this academic year on his boat, sailing from Erie to the Atlantic and down to Florida for one last grand adventure as the options for treating his cancer had closed.
I wanted to add a few additional reminiscences to what I wrote on Twitter. Randy did not have a traditional path into academia, and he was over 40 when he finished his Ph.D. under Richard Mitchell at Illinois. I met him when Prof. Mitchell hosted the Association of Ancient Historians meeting at a historic estate the University of Illinois owned outside of Urbana — I think this was in 1996. Randy was then finishing up his dissertation.
Randy was acutely aware that his academic career was going to be shorter than for most scholars. He also understood that — despite age discrimination being illegal — many schools are reluctant to hire older Ph.D. graduates. So he believed he was fortunate to get the job at Mercyhurst, and I believe Mercyhurst was fortunate to get him.
Randy served as AAH secretary-treasurer, a thankless job, and did so with energy and enthusiasm. He even hosted the annual meeting one year at Mercyhurst. Alas, I wasn't able to attend because I was hosting the Celtic Studies Association of North America annual meeting that same spring and just didn't have the time. I did, however, get to see him in Erie when I was traveling back and forth to Canadian dog shows when my older dog was younger.
Randy's already shortened time in the profession was cut down even further by cancer, but at least he had the opportunity to spend his final months on the sailboat that he loved.
• Randall Howarth, RIP (21 March 2018)