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In memoriam: Ellie Stockum, professor emerita of English

Eleanore “Ellie” Krage Stockum, professor emerita of English and author of a definitive text on writing basics, died Dec. 14. She was 94.

Stockum became a professor of English literature at UD in 1958 and retired in 1993. She was co-author of Getting Started: A Preface to Writing in 1971 and used the text throughout her English courses.

In a June 2023 University of Dayton Magazine article, filmmaker Tad Devlin ’67 shared how he carried his copy of Getting Started until it fell apart. Devlin had been busy making a name for himself in Hollywood as assistant director, production manager and producer on films including D3: The Mighty DucksWhen a Man Loves a WomanGeorge of the JungleAnnie Hall and Sleeping with the Enemy.

When he lost his battered copy after decades of use, Devlin set out to find Stockum to reconnect and get a new copy of her book. She was in a senior living community in Washington, D.C., and Devlin wanted to express his gratitude – and ask for a new copy.

“She had only one left, but she gave it to him anyway,” the article said. “He said he decided at that moment he was going to get her the credit she deserved for the book that changed his life.” Devlin got the book back into publication and sent Stockum 40 copies, and Stockum told the Magazine she was overjoyed to receive them. 

R. Alan Kimbrough, professor emeritus of English, said Stockum was always his "go-to" person whenever he had questions about usage or style.

“I remember her fondly as a person of boundless hospitality as well,” he said. “And I may be one of only a few UD associates who ever met some of her family in Winona, Minnesota, on our way back from a Midwest Modern Language Association meeting in Minneapolis, when I drove.”

Popular lore suggests Stockum might be responsible for the current lyrics of the UD anthem as well. Kimbrough said he has a mimeographed copy with the old words before the change, and credits her for a timely switch.

“I think it was Ellie who prevailed upon then-Provost Brother Joseph W. Stander, S.M., to change ‘Arouse, ye sons of Dayton’ to ‘Arouse, all ye of Dayton’ and ‘Your stalwart sons all answer’ to ‘Your sons and daughters answer,’” he said. “If I'm right, her zeal for reducing sexist language has its own victory every time we now sing those lyrics.”

A full obituary can be found here.

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