Richard Tilman (Dick) Vann II, Professor Emeritus of History and Letters at Wesleyan University, died on February 1, 2022, at age 90 after a short illness. His funeral will take place at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 381 Main Street, Middletown, at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 28th. The service will be livestreamed; the link can be found on the church’s website. On Sunday, May 29th at 3:30 p.m., an informal “Celebration of His Life” for the sharing of reminiscences by friends and family will be held in the Event Center of Covenant Living of Cromwell, 101 West Street, Cromwell CT.
Professor Vann, born in 1931, grew up in Belton, Texas. His father, William H. Vann, and mother, Osee Maedgen Vann, were on the faculty of Mary Hardin Baylor College in Belton. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern Methodist University, Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees from Oxford University, and a PhD in History from Harvard University. During his 36 years of teaching at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, he taught courses in the History department and in The College of Letters, a multi-disciplinary program which combined history, philosophy, and literature. He loved teaching undergraduates, whom he found diverse, interesting, and bright. In administrative roles, he served as chairperson of the History Department and The College of Letters, as Director of the Center for Humanities, and, for twenty-five years, as the Executive Editor of History and Theory, a Journal of History and Philosophy. His books, articles, and book reviews centered on 17th Century Intellectual History, the History of English Quakerism, English Social History, Philosophy of History, and Family History.
Dick Vann also particularly enjoyed family life, especially being with and reading to his daughter, nieces and nephews. He was a devoted fan of opera and enjoyed treading the boards himself in several Wesleyan theater productions. He was a lifelong sports fan, particularly of the St. Louis Cardinals, and was always particularly animated when talking “sports.” He enjoyed tennis and jogging, and was an avid player of bridge and board games, particularly Scrabble. Having considered a career in journalism, he maintained a keen interest in current world events and until shortly before his death shared his knowledge through spirited conversations and lectures at his retirement community, Covenant Living of Cromwell.
Over the course of his professional career and retirement, Richard, with his wife of sixty-seven years, Patricia Fenn Vann, enjoyed spending summers and sabbatical years living and doing research in London. After retirement they lived mainly in London for 17 years. In 2018 they moved into Covenant Living of Cromwell, Connecticut.
Richard is survived by his wife, Patricia Vann, of 101 West Street, Apt. 3207, Cromwell, CT 06416 and his daughter, Elizabeth R. Vann, of Chicago, IL; his brother and sister-in-law, Pennington and Joy Vann of Lubbock, TX; and his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Gloria Jean and Philip Fenn of Norman, Oklahoma; plus the nieces and nephews of whose lives he so enjoyed being a part. Memorial gifts may be sent to your charity of choice, or to the Benevolent Fund of Covenant Living, 101 West Street, Cromwell, CT 06416. To share memories or send condolences, please visit www.doolittlefuneralservice.com.