CARBONDALE – Professor Harry Ammon of Carbondale died in Memorial Hospital of Carbondale on Friday, April 29, 2016 as the result of complications following a fall. Harry was born in Watertown, CT ninety-eight years ago. He attended Georgetown University and received his doctorate from the University of Virginia in 1948.
Harry came to Carbondale in 1950 to teach in SIU’s History Department where he was influential in the Department securing a Ph.D. program. He served as Departmental Chair from 1977 until 1983 and retired in 1984. He was not a prolific writer but a very stylish one. His majestic book on President James Monroe was first published by the University Press of Virginia in 1971 and has been in print continuously since.
Although Harry had an encyclopedic knowledge of the early years of the United States, and a vast view of the sweep of history, he wore his scholarship lightly. He received Fulbrights to Austria and Korea.
He loved opera and ballet and travel and life, but perhaps nothing was more precious to him than the books he read. As he got older he increasingly enjoyed the vast resources of talking books. Many recordings arrived every week and he would converse happily about what he had read. But he didn’t live in the past; he was as well informed about the current presidential primaries as he was about the life of St. Augustine, about mystery writers as about lost civilizations. Moreover, he remembered what he read.
Harry was a gracious host, an engaging raconteur, an excellent cook, and a man of refined tastes, but above all he was a perfect gentleman. His dear friend, Hugo Oberto, with whom he shared many years and many journeys, preceded him in death.
Per Harry’s wishes there will be no services. Meredith Funeral Home in Carbondale has been entrusted with arrangements.