North American Scholar

LATIMER, John Francis

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1903-05-16
  • Born City: Clinton
  • Born State/Country: MS
  • Parents: Murray, a professor of Greek, & Myrtle Webb L.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1991-10-29
  • Death City: Washington
  • Death State/Country: DC
  • Married: Helen Blundon, 27 July 1946.
  • Education:

    A.B. Mississippi Coll., 1922; D. Litt (hon.), 1964; A.M. U. Chicago, 1926; Ph.D. Yale, 1929.

  • Professional Experience:

    Tchr., coach, princ. Clinton (MS) HS, 1922-4; instr. class. Vanderbilt, 1926-7; Gk. mstr. Taft School (Watertown, CT), 1929-31; asst. prof, class. Knox Coll. (Galesburg, IL), 1931-3; asso. prof, to prof, class. & dept. chair Drury Coll. (Springfield, MO), 1933-6; asst. prof, to prof, class. & dept. chair George Washington U., 1936-71; asst. dean faculties, 1956-9; asso. dean faculties, 1959-64; dir. foreign student affairs, 1964-6; pres. ACL, 1960-6; exec, sec, 1966-73; mng. comm. ASCSA; pres. CAAS, 1955-7.

  • Dissertation:

    "Hesiodic Society" (Yale, 1929).

  • Publications:

    "We See by the Papers," monthly column in CJ (1951-5); "Aeneas and the Cumaean Sibyl: A Study in Topography," Vergilius, o.s. 6 (May 1940) 28-35; "American Classical Scholarship and Caleb Alexander, TAPA 80 (1949) 403-22; "Ezekiel Cheever and His Accidence," CW 43 (1949-50) 179-83; "The 'Author' of Cheever's Accidence," with Kennneth Murdock, CJ 46 (1950-1) 391-7; "America's Battle of the Books, Part I," CW45 (1951-2) 1-4; "Some Early American Latin Textbooks and Teaching Methods," CO 29 (1952-3) 77-9; "An Early Experiment in Latin Teaching," CO 30 (1953-4) 80-1; "On the New England Language Trail," CW 49 (1955-6) 129-32; What's Happened to Our High Schools? (Washington, DC, 1958); Francis Glass, A Life of George Washington in Prose (ed.), 3 vols. (Washington, 1976); A Grammatical and Historical Supplement to A Life of George Washington in Latin by Francis Glass (ed.) (Washington, DC, 1976); "Paul Shorey: A Bibliography of his Classical Publications," CP 81 (1986) 1-31.

  • Notes:

    John F. Latimer's years as executive secretary in the national office of the American Classical League in Washington, DC, perhaps best illustrate his varied talents of leadership and spirit of service. In this capacity he acted as legislative liaison, as coordinator of classical activities, as fund-raiser, and as editor of a newsletter. Many successful projects resulted from his activities, notably the Airlie House Conference of 1965 and the Oxford Conference two years later. In these conferences the ACL brought together classicists from throughout the United States to study ways in which to stem the tide of declining enrollments in Latin and Greek. The Oxford Report, edited by Latimer and issued in 1968, stressed a variety of methods, new materials, and new programs as effective means of stabilizing enrollments. For his energy, diplomatic skills, and success in promoting the classical cause on all fronts, John Latimer was recognized by many as a representative "Mr. Classics."When he retired from George Washington University after 35 years of service, he received emeritus status and several awards of merit from classical organizations that he had served so fondly for 50 years. The university citation noted his example of humanitas, "generous conduct towards others" or "education befitting a human being." As an example of his generosity one could cite the annual prize he endowed to recognize the senior with the best record as a major in the Classics Department. He did not cease his "humanitas" or his scholarship throughout the period of his retirement. In his later years he was still working on subjects as diverse as a biography of Paul Shorey and a comparison of different translations of the Biblical text about being "Born Again." He was an active member of many associations outside the field of classics and was called upon several times during this later period to present his illustrated lecture about his experiences with the Navy during World War II as communications officer on the USS Quincy.He once expressed his philosophy of life in the following manner: "Real success is found in the satisfaction one gets in doing one's daily work with undiminished enthusiasm because of a strong conviction that it is worth doing to the best of one's ability."

  • Sources:

    Family papers; Washington Post (31 Oct. 1991) D4; John E. Ziolkowski, CW 85,6 (July/August 1992) 687-8.

  • Author: John Ziolkowski