Dr. Richard Arnold died on May 4, 2017.
I first met him shortly after he arrived at VIU. My wife and I had him over for a welcome to Nanaimo dinner. Richard was a good man. An environmentalist, a scholar, a teacher, a poet. We sometimes met on or near Mount Benson while hiking. Students wrote of Richard: The best English teacher I’ve every met, would like to introduce him to every body. And, Richard is a very interesting prof, and his assignments are usually pretty good. He often has interesting anecdotes to go along with his lectures. He is a super committed environmentalist, and this showed up a lot in his topics during class. Tough but fair grader.
The Dean of Arts and Humanities sent this email to VIU people:
It is with profound sadness that I inform you that Richard Arnold, an instructor in VIU’s Arts and Humanities faculty, died May 4, 2017.
Richard was a member of the English department for 25 years. He was a devoted teacher who always said that he was most interested in helping students develop a “voice” – not only in the classroom, but in life. Richard’s success in this regard is evidenced by the many students who have expressed their admiration and respect for him.
Born and raised in Alabama, where he spent many summers exploring the natural world around him, Richard became an enduring environmentalist. His Ph.D. dissertation was titled “Conservation and Uses of Nature in the writings of Thoreau, Muir, and Abbey.”
Richard frequently shepherded his students out of the classroom, onto the trails, and into the woods, believing that all human success ultimately is related to what we know of, and how we treat, our natural environment. One reviewer of a collection of Richard’s poems stated that “his poetry demands . . . our acceptance of responsibility for what is becoming of the natural world.” Many people at VIU will remember Richard for the countless hikes he organized to the summit of Mount Benson.
Richard was a gentle soul – a good colleague, a loyal friend, and a dedicated father to his two children. Our thoughts are with his family – we wish them peace and comfort during this difficult time.
There will be a celebration of life later this summer, and those details will be conveyed once they have been confirmed.
You will be missed.