Remembering a classic professor

Memorial honors Ross Scaife’s life, academic success

By Jasmine Whitlow

Music that represented different times in Ross Scaife’s life and poems read by family and close friends helped to capture the most important things in the professor’s life at his memorial service Saturday.

Family, faith, friendship, poetry and song were the elements of the UK professor of classics who died on March 15 after a battle with cancer. Scaife, 47, continued his 17 years of teaching at the university even after he was diagnosed in January 2007.

Nearly 100 people filled Memorial Hall for the service that featured performances by choruses from Maxwell Elementary School and Lexington Catholic High School. Letters written by Scaife in his teenage years and a video of his accomplishments and interviews with his colleagues helped reflect on his life.

“Ross altered the way I write, and I cannot approach classics without including something I learned from him,” said Terence Tunberg, a professor who worked with Scaife in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Scaife served as the director of the Collaboratory for Research in Computing for Humanities, which provides UK faculty with technical assistance on humanities computing projects. He founded The Stoa, Suda on Line and Diotima — three online databases for humanities study.

“Ross not only comes up with great ideas, but he has the enthusiasm to make those ideas come to life,” said Christopher Blackwell, a classics professor at Furman University.

The service ended with a prayer by Rev. Norman Fischer.

A reception followed in the Ralph G. Anderson Building and guests were invited to join Scaife’s family at the professor’s home to continue to reflect on his life.

“I am really glad that the memorial took place to provide closure,” said James Hicks, a former student at UK from 2001 to 2007 who had Scaife for a Greek grammar course. “I am glad that many people were made known about his accomplishments.”

Phyllis Cunagin, a former Latin teacher at Bryan Station High School, said the professor’s teachings and contributions to the field will continue after his death.

“Ross contributed to the ongoing growth of classics and technology, and his work will still impact people in the future,” Cunagin said.