Archive for Friday, December 3, 2004

Former KU professor of classics dies at 96

December 3, 2004


Friends and family this week are mourning the loss of Cora Lee Beers Price, a former classics professor whose contributions to Kansas University earned her induction to the KU Women's Hall of Fame in 2003.

She had turned 96 last week.

Price began teaching English and classics at KU in 1962 and retired in 1979. Her colleagues remembered her as a brilliant scholar and inspiring teacher.

"Students who had her remembered her, and that's always a good test," said retired KU professor Evelyn Swartz.

Price graduated from Beloit College in Beloit, Wis., before attending Claremont College in California for her master's in English. She received a doctorate in English from Stanford University in 1940, a feat that impressed her peers at KU.

"She had her doctorate when a lot of women did not have graduate degrees," said associate professor emerita of English Edwyna Gilbert. "Women didn't even hardly go to college then. She was extremely bright, very capable, and just a nice person to be around."

In addition to her academic talents, Price was also a respected musician. She was president of the Lawrence Music Club and helped found the Lawrence Civic Choir. She was also a church organist at the First Baptist Church in Lawrence for many years.

Her husband, G. Baley Price, started teaching mathematics at KU in 1937 and retired in 1975.

In October, G. Baley Price gave $500,000 to KU to endow a professorship in his wife's honor. An additional $500,000 was added to the endowment from funds previously donated by the Hall Family Foundation. G. Baley said he hoped the Cora Lee Beers Price Professorship in International Cultural Understanding for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences would honor his wife's dedication to teaching. The position has yet to be filled.

Price's children said she was a caring mother who brought her love of teaching and scholarship into the home.

"Dinner conversations were always stimulating," said Lucy Price. "We kept a dictionary beside the dining room table because frequently we had to look up words."

Bill Crowe, the director of KU's Spencer Research Library, oversaw the donation of G. Baley and Cora Lee's papers to KU in 2002. He said the former professors were an extraordinary pair.

"You try not to idealize somebody," Crowe said. "But it's hard not to in their case. I've met a lot of people in my career at many universities. And they are the best."

The Prices had six children. Their five daughters attended KU. Their son attended Harvard and is an attorney in Washington.

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