Local author, professor emeritus at MacMurray, Metcalf, dies, leaves legacy of love of language – WLDS

The MacMurray College community lost one of its most beloved personalities yesterday.

Dr. Allan Metcalf has passed away at the age of 81.

The retired English professor emeritus “taught everything from Beowulf to Billy Budd, from journalism to linguistics, from freshman composition to language and law,” according to his website.

His career spanned more than 45 years, until the college closed nearly two years ago. In addition to chairing the English Department several times throughout his tenure at MacMurray, he also served as the college’s registrar and assistant vice president for academic affairs from 2003 to 2012. He also founded the college’s student newspaper Bagpipes in 1976. He was the newspaper’s educational advisor until 2000.

Author of 8 books, he especially explored his love of the origin of words in his research and his writings. His most recent work was published in 2019 on Guy Fawkes and the phrase ‘you guys’.

Metcalf served as executive secretary of the American Dialect Society from 1981 until his retirement in 2018. His love of words created the society’s annual vote on word of the year in 1990.

He made appearances on CBS Sunday Morning and in the pages of the Chronicle of higher education. He has lectured at various locations around the country and spent time in Jerusalem for an American studies seminar for Israeli high school teachers in 1993. He also made subsequent appearances on NPR and in TIME magazine.

Services for Metcalf are on hold at Buchanan & Cody Funeral Home in Jacksonville.

Lola R. McClure