Robert Dana, the writer who revived the North American Review in the 1960s, spent 40 years teaching at Cornell College, and went on to serve as Iowa's Poet Laureate from 2004 through 2008, died on Feb. 6, 2010, in Iowa City. The cause was pancreatic cancer. He was 80.
Robert Patrick ("RP") Dana was born June 2, 1929, in Boston. Orphaned at age 7, he was a foster child in Haydenville, Mass., through high school. He served in World War II and received his B.A. from Drake University and his M.A. from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1954. Dana founded and served as editor-in-chief of the revived North American Review from 1964 through 1968. At the time, Dana was teaching English literature at Cornell. When he retired in 1994, he was the college's Poet-in-Residence. He also served as a visiting writer at Stockholm University, Beijing University, and several American universities.
Dana's poetry won a number of awards, among them, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1985, 1993) and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University (1989). His works include 11 full-length books of poetry and three prose books. His final two books were issued in April—New & Selected Poems 1955 to 2010 and a book of essays, Paris on the Flats: Versions of a Literary Life.
Dana is survived by his wife of 35 years, Peg Sellen Dana '73; three children from his previous marriage—Lori, Arden, and Richard; sister-in-law Janet Sellen McGrane '72 (Michael McGrane '72); brothers-in-law John Sellen and Eric Sellen '80; two nephews; and a legion of students, fellow writers, and readers.
You may read or post tributes to Robert Dana on his remembrance page.
Margaret Smyth Emmons '44
Dr. Margaret Smyth Emmons '44 died Jan. 16, 2010, in Iowa City. She was 86.
Emmons was a physician from 1954 through 1986, served as president of the Clinton County Medical Society, and worked to establish an associate degree nursing program at Clinton Community College. She taught at medical schools in Israel and Ghana, and served as a board member and president of Self Help International, a world hunger organization helping farmers in Ghana and Nicaragua become self-sufficient. She received a Distinguished Achievement Award from Cornell in 1999.
In receiving that award, she was called a humanitarian of the highest rank and recognized as an example of learning and service. In addition to her humanitarian work, Emmons created a series of geography card games called Go Travel. After first playing homemade versions of the game with her grandchildren, she created a business, travelbygames.com, that eventually included games on Africa, South America, and the United States. Before her death, she completed a new version of the game on China.
She is survived by her children, Kathy Emmons, Sally Emmons Myers '76, Susan Emmons '78, and Robert Emmons; three grandchildren; a great-granddaughter; three nieces and several cousins.
Douglas Copley Van Metre '50
Douglas Copley Van Metre '50, a business owner, civic leader, and life trustee at Cornell College, died Jan. 18, 2010. He was 82.
Van Metre worked in sales in Chicago, and went on to become president of Rapids Inc. in Cedar Rapids and Bauman & Company in Mount Vernon. He served on the boards for many companies, including Mount Vernon Bank and Trust, Mid American Publishing Company and the Cedar Rapids Country Club. He served on the Board of Trustees for Cornell from 1981 to 1990 and from 1992 to 1997, and also served as assistant football coach.
He is survived by his wife, Celia Lynch; three sons, Douglas, Craig, and Kent; six grandchildren; a brother, David; a cousin; sister-in-law, Nancy Beatty; a brother-in-law, C.J.