The initial news from Jim Carothers:
Dear Colleagues: I regret to inform you of the passing of Emeritus colleague Jack Oruch on June 6 in Ohio. Jack came to the University in 1963 and retired in 1997. He was Chair of the Majors Committee, a predecessor of the current Director of Undergraduate Studies position, and also served as Associate Chair. His teaching often focused on Shakespeare and on the Freshman-Sophomore Honors courses. Jack is invariably recalled by those who knew him as a kind, gentle, and friendly colleague, and a hard worker for his students and for all of us. Elaine Oruch would be happy to hear from colleagues and friends, and she says “the written word is beautiful.”
(Elaine Oruch, 586 Pine Grove Place, Gahanna, Ohio 43230)
From Amy Devitt:
What a wonderful colleague Jack was. I am sorry to hear the news and sorry that so many of you did not get the chance to know him.
From Iris Smith Fischer:
Jack was indeed a wonderful colleague and a very fine Associate Chair.
From Richard Hardin:
Jack and I were friends from the start when I came to KU three years after him. We were the only people in Kansas who had read Drayton’s Poly-Okbion. He was then chair of our undergrad honors program and gave our honors students a sense of belonging somewhere in a huge university of 16,000 students, e.g. with the newsletter he called ‘The Weakly Reader.’ I still encounter students from long ago who remember his Shakespeare and Chaucer courses. A sweet guy.
From Dick Eversole:
The night before I learned of his death, I had a pleasing and vivid dream of Jack as a young man. He was smiling and happy and dressed ready to teach. It felt like a gift. He was indeed a sweet guy and I was very close to him. As others have said, he was always generous with his time and affection–a good friend.
From Vic Contoski:
I remember Jack’s kindness. Whenever I would take my wife Dzidka up to the Mayo Clinic, he always called the night before to wish us well. What a privilege to know him!
From Paul Stephen Lim:
I’m still trying to process the news of Jack’s demise. The first thing I thought of, actually, was a line from Shakespeare’s RICHARD II, which I first read when I took an undergraduate Shakespeare class from Jack in 1969: “For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings…”
As many others have already noted, Jack was the sweetest, the gentlest, the kindest person it was ever our fortune to meet and call our friend. During the early years of English Alternative Theatre (EAT) in 1989-1992, before I acquired my own truck, I relied primarily on Jack’s truck to help us transport our sets, furniture, props, costumes. Not only did Jack provide the trusty truck, but he also drove, and helped to carry things with the rest of the crew! Those were the days, when all our backs were still strong and capable of bearing burdensome loads. Jack’s departure from our midst is a burden we will continue to bear gladly for as long as memory is still with us.
Between 1967 and 1991, while I was fortunate to work in the English Department at K.U., there was a superior faculty. Jack Oruch was among them. He was never too busy to answer a question or resolve a disagreement. Since we both retired, we have kept in touch by exchanging cards and news each Christmas. I will miss him, and my heart goes out to Elaine and their family.