Jonathan Lovell

 From Stephanie Lovell:

It is with a heavy heart I report the passing of my father Jonathan Lovell earlier this week, on April 14, 2020. Dad died at home peacefully in his sleep. His family and wide circle of friends are still struggling to process the abrupt end to a life filled with so much vitality and enthusiasm. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to one of the following:

The Nature Conservancy, please follow prompts to donate to either the English Department or the San Jose Writing Project in Dad’s name.

Details of a memorial to follow, once we sort out how best to do such a thing in the setting of Covid-19. The many, many tributes posted on Dad’s Facebook page are incredibly appreciated, and help fill the empty place left in our hearts by his sudden departure.

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4 Responses to Jonathan Lovell

  1. Rick Ackerly says:

    Halfway through freshman year in Sage F, I asked Jon if I could move in with him, and he agreed (as long as my bunk was the top one). We remained the best of friends since. In 1990 I re-met him at traffic school in Oakland, CA — we had both gotten tickets at about the same time. Our families became instant friends (he had two daughters, Stephanie and Helen, and we had Lizzie and Katie — all about the same age). We were an extended family for a while: Lovells in Berkeley and Ackerlys in Oakland. and as two guys who were passionate about education, especially public education, we stayed in touch even after we each divorced and remarried.

    Jonathan was a roommate, a classmate, a family member, colleague, someone who harassed me for money in the nicest way, and a good friend.

  2. Bob Conway says:

    Although he referred to himself as Jonathan, to me he was always Jon, a consistently friendly guy with a twinkling eye, broad smile, and ready laugh.

    He lived down the hall from Charlie Parham, Jim Allen and me freshman year. He and Charlie became close friends for the next three and ever since. [Jon spoke at Charlie’s memorial service in 2019 – ed.] Jon, Charlie and I were all English majors. A few years ago, I was bemoaning our awful semester of English 401 and how it pushed me away from literature toward art history. Jon reminded me that, as we were all consumed by the war and the draft and our uncertain futures, Charles Dickens’ Bleak House really didn’t matter that much. With that one bit of perspective, he helped me shed accumulated layers of resentment.

    He was a sailor, with a quirky little gaff-rigged cat boat based on a 19th-century New England design. The rudder was attached to a continuous line running stern to bow along both gunwales, and steering the boat was counter-intuitive. He took me out one afternoon in San Francisco Bay. I almost dumped us in a puff. He just smiled.

    Jon exemplified the best, non-clichéd essence of being “a gentleman and a scholar.” As his entry in our 50th Reunion book tells, he was devoted to teaching. I never saw him in action, but he did share some of his essays, including the one found here:

    And he always ended his emails with “My very best.” I knew he meant it.

  3. Larry Ricketts says:

    I did not know Jonathan Lovell well at Williams. I was in a few English classes with him. This all changed in 2013, forty-six years after graduation. Jon wrote and asked me to comment on an essay he was about to publish in an issue of “California English.” As I recall it was entitled,”Aliterate Readers and Complex Texts.” I could not pass up the opportunity to have fun with Jon and his serious academic effort. I gave him many life anecdotes and funny examples of my trying to engage with groups in my financial consulting practice. I had fun with him. We played back and forth with the words “saved,” “aliterate” (a student who can read but refuses to do so), “illiterate” and “uneducated.” We ended comparing notes and humorous stories of Professors Logan’s and Samuels’ classes at Williams.

    Jon and his wife Ellen joined the Williams Group, in Oxford, the year before our 50th. My wife Sue and I were able to get to know Jon. A scholar, a teacher of students and teachers, a gentleman, a man in love with life and family, and a man with a smile and sense of humor.

    As we were leaving Oxford, as with others, Jon asked me to comment on his essay on Shelley’s “Ozymandias.” I felt that I was a student again and wanted to impress the “teacher.” I was humbled by his asking and worked hard to have fun and provide an unusual response. Only Williams could allow such a relationship to develop long after graduation. It was important to get at least a C+! Jon kindly responded to me, “I’d never thought to see the essay as raising questions in the reader of the worth of their own efforts…what sort of legacy, as opposed to Ozymandias’s, that they will leave behind; but I suspect that raising such questions for his readers was one of Shelley’s primary motivations for writing the poem.”

    In your own words, my friend, “I suspect your own legacy will be a good deal more enduring (and endearing) than that of the “King of Kings”!

    My thoughts and prayers are with Ellen and the family.

  4. Jack Hunt says:

    Jon and I were in the group that started at Weston House (old Pi Phi) and then ended up at Carter House in Greylock Quad. Jon and I were suitemates senior year.

    I remember a wonderful trip to Lake Tahoe, where we met up with Jon, his daughters, and then Greta. Of course, my wife Diane and Greta knew each other from Smith. I had our three girls (Laura ’97, Lisa ’03, and Lisa’s twin Helen). A friend of mine in Bakersfield had loaned us a beautiful home in Tahoe. I don’t remember a lot of the detail, but Jon’s daughters were closer in age to our twins. I know we had a great time. This was in the 1980s and early 90s. Jon and I would catch up by phone every year or so before I went to Texas in 1995.

    Jon was so enthusiastic about everything and so good at everything. He was a wonderful guy. While at Williams he had a wonderful Irish Setter named Sean. That dog terrorized the Williams campus. When I left my Navy ship for shore duty, I immediately bought an Irish Setter, Seamus. We enjoyed Seamus for eleven years in Boston, Texas and California.

    I also have vivid memories of a trip to the “Castle” in New Hampshire owned by Jon’s family. Great friends, lots of girls, bobsledding, etc.

    Jon was just a pleasure to know, and now, remember.

    Jack Hunt

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