Thomas H. Stokes Jr., 67, of Crawfordsville died suddenly July 7, 2015, in Québec, Canada, while attending an academic conference. He was born in Greenville County, South Carolina on March 30, 1948, and was the son of Thomas H. and Alice (White) Stokes, who predeceased him.
An Associate Professor of French at Wabash College, Stokes graduated from Davidson College in 1970, and in 1971 studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, where he earned a diploma in French Studies. His further advanced degrees were an M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1974, and the Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, both in French.
Stokes began his career as a Peace Corps Teacher in the Congo for two years, and taught English as a second language in the United States, France, and Germany. He also taught at Cumberland College, St John’s College (NM), and Cornell College before joining the faculty of Wabash in 1990.
His most important academic work was his 1996 book Audience, Intention, and Rhetoric in Pascal and Simone Weil. Later in his career he developed an interest in the Francophone literature of Africa and the Caribbean, and gave numerous papers and lectures on this and other topics in French Studies. His abiding interest was literature; he was long fascinated by the French moraliste tradition, and by biography and autobiography, and with them, the construction of memory. Tom Stokes believed in the study of literature as a vital means of unlocking the human mind, heart, and soul.
Wabash College honored him with the McLain-McTurnan-Arnold Research Award in 1996, and in 1997 he delivered the LaFollette Lecture in the Humanities at Wabash, speaking on the French poet Arthur Rimbaud.
Thomas is survived by his aunt, Mildred Stokes, and several cousins, and many devoted friends, colleagues, and students throughout the world who will miss his unfailing dedication to humanistic studies, as well as his ironic wit.
A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 11 in the Pioneer Chapel at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, with a reception following in the Detchon Center.
Tom was an inveterate traveler around the globe, and recognizing this love and the way he inspired it in his students, his close friends and former students will establish at Wabash the Thomas H. Stokes Jr. Fund for Study Abroad. They invite contributions to this fund in Tom’s memory. Gifts can be directed to Wabash College in care of the Advancement Office, P.O. Box 352, Crawfordsville, IN 47933. Contributions may also be made online at www.wabash.edu/egift or by calling 877-743-4545.