Great Expectations

A blog of the Department of English at BGSU:A place for faculty, students and alumni to connect.

Philip O’Connor 1932-2008

Posted by bgsuenglish on August 25, 2008

The Department is sad to announce the death of Philip O’Connor, 75, a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of English, who passed away on August 16th at his home in Kentfield, California. Phil was a faculty member in the Creative Writing Program from 1967-92 and was its first chair, as well as being a widely published and acclaimed novelist.

Creative Writing and Literature Lecturer Theresa Williams remembered Phil, who was her mentor when she was an MFA:

He was the most generous teacher I ever had. He was a big man with a big soul. When your story came up for workshop, he could put you on cloud nine or leave you quaking in your boots. But you never lost sight that what you were doing was special and important.

His novels “Defending Civilization” and “Finding Brendan” were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and his debut novel, “Stealing Home,” was a best-seller, a Book of the Month Club selection, and an American Book Award nominee for “Best First Novel.” He also wrote two collections of short stories.

Phil received a master’s degree in English from San Francisco State University and a master’s in creative writing at the University of Iowa, and spent his career at BGSU developing the graduate program in creative writing. He was named the university’s fourth “distinguished professor.”

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