The witty professorís wonderful legacy

Thursday, December 6, 2007

1962 English Department Colleagues

Coard, right, with 1962 English Department colleagues. Faculty members from left are George Ferguson ’52 ’55, Evelyn Homstad ’56 and Fran Voelker ’59.

Bob Coard, American literature scholar, sat in his St. Cloud State office wearing his slippers, reading books and writing papers. Bob Coard, the storyteller, once presented a paper on the history of the bats in Riverview Hall at a meeting meant for scholarly presentations. Bob Coard, the benefactor, gave generously to St. Cloud State University, even after his death in 2001.

"He was a local historian and a brilliant raconteur," said Michael Connaughton, professor and former chair of the
St. Cloud State Department of English. "He was very committed to us and to our students."

Professor Robert Inkster, English department chair, echoes Connaughton’s take on their former colleague. "Bob was a sweet, sweet guy," said Inkster. "He was this old-timer with this wonderful wit. Very quiet. Very dry."

Coard was a professor of English at St. Cloud State from 1960 until his retirement in 1990. Thanks to a gift in 1990 and a $249,390 bequest in 2007, the Lawrence B. and Clara S. Coard Endowment today has more than $276,000. It is capable of producing nearly $14,000 in scholarships each year for undergraduate and graduate students majoring in English. That is expected to increase as the principal, which is invested and can never be touched, grows. Coard established the scholarship in memory of his parents.

Coard earned a bachelor’s degree from Quincy College in Illinois. His master’s degree and doctorate were from the University of Illinois. He was a scholar of Sinclair Lewis, the Nobel Prize-winning author and Minnesota native who wrote books such as "Main Street" and "Elmer Gantry."

Assistance like the Coard Scholarship is extremely helpful to student self-esteem and pocketbooks, said Connaughton. The 2007-08 recipients of the Coard Scholarship are graduate students Sean Mitsein, Eveleth, and Sarah E. Smith, Brainerd.

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