Honoring Professor Bill Kelleher
A memorial for Anthropology Professor Bill Kelleher, who passed away last fall, will be held Friday, February 28, at 3 pm in Hendricks Chapel. This special service will be followed by a reception in the Maxwell School’s Founders Room.
Francis Kelleher, a cultural anthropologist and scholar of Northern Ireland, died
in Syracuse on September 18, 2013. He was a member of the parish council at St.
Lucy’s Church and a lifelong advocate for peace, education, and justice. He served
on the board of the Syracuse Model Neighborhood Facility and provided assistance
to former inmates transitioning to life after prison. Bill was beloved by
students at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, where he taught from
1990 until 2005, and at Syracuse University, where he taught for eight years in
the Maxwell School.
Bill was born on August 12, 1950, the eldest child of William
F. Kelleher, a Boston firefighter, and Marjorie (Mitchell) Kelleher. He grew up
in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, where he attended Catholic Memorial High
School. Throughout his life, Bill cherished his boyhood friendships and the
Boston Red Sox. He began his academic career at Colby College, then worked on
the docks and as a hospital orderly before completing his B.A. at the
University of Massachusetts in 1976.
As a graduate student at the University of Michigan, Bill carried
out fieldwork in Northern Ireland during the 1980s, at the very height of the
Troubles. His research focused on the effects of long-term political violence
on everyday life and the work of historical memory in reproducing such violence.
Bill’s compelling insights were presented in his book, The Troubles in Ballybogoin: Memory and Identity in Northern Ireland
(University of Michigan Press, 2003). In recent years, Bill’s research focused
on the ethnography of race and class in American higher education. He taught
courses on colonialism and post-colonialism, religion, politics, Europe, and
Dr. David Edwards, Professor in the Social Sciences at
Williams College, remembers Bill from their days together at Michigan: “Bill
not only helped me get through grad school, he helped me see the beauty and
fascination of the disciplinary path we had both chosen. He was a teacher at
his core, and he had the ability to understand and convey what really mattered
in the books and ideas we studied. For that, and for much more, I will always
be grateful to him.” Dr. Sarah Phillips, Bill’s former student and now
Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University, put it this way: “You have
modeled for generations of students how to practice a meaningful engaged
anthropology. The lessons I learned from you are ones I am now privileged to
share with my own students.”
Bill is survived by
his beloved wife of 27 years, Jo Thomas; his daughters, Susan and Kathleen; his
brother Dennis and sisters, Nancy Kelleher, Joan Casey, and Janet Harter; and
his stepmother, Margaret Kelleher.