Hans Turley, an associate professor of English, died June 13. He was 52.
Turley, who lived in Willimantic, joined the UConn faculty in 1998. He was a specialist in Restoration and 18th-century adventure literature, with a focus on Daniel Defoe and the literary history of piracy.
He also specialized in gay and lesbian studies.
Robert Tilton, chair of the English department, says Turley “was incredibly generous, a great scholar, and wonderful teacher. We’ll miss him terribly.”
Tilton also noted Turley’s devotion to volunteer work at the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic.
Greg Semenza, associate professor of English, says it is difficult to capture how much Turley meant to others.
“Nothing – no words, no memories can adequately sum up Hans’ spirit, the sheer originality of his personality, or the depth of his passions,” Semenza says. What people will remember, he adds, “is every instance of kindness, and especially of amazing courage.”
Penelope Pelizzon, associate professor of English, says she will miss Turley’s sense of humor. “Hans had an 18th-century wit,” she says.
“He loved innuendo, double entendres, and saucy humor. He could spur a lagging meeting into a trot with one of his ironic asides. My best mornings in the English department were often kick-started by a bit of Hans’ good-natured gossip, delivered with his characteristic dry understatement.”
Turley will also be remembered for his ‘encyclopedic’ knowledge of film and popular culture, and his love of dogs.
Born in Parkersburg, W.Va., Turley earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in English from the University of Washington. He was an assistant professor of Restoration and 18th-century literature at Texas Tech University from 1996 to 1998.
Turley is survived by his long-time partner Steve Arnold.
Donations in memory of Turley may be sent to the Covenant Soup Kitchen, where he used to volunteer.
The address is: Covenant Soup Kitchen, 220 Valley Street, Willimantic, CT 06226.