Cathedral tribute to respected classics professor

The Northern Echo: LATIN EXPERT: The late Professor Gavin Townend LATIN EXPERT: The late Professor Gavin Townend

FORMER colleagues will join family and friends at Durham Cathedral for the funeral of a respected classics academic next week.

Professor Gavin Townend died following a recent illness at Hallgarth Nursing Home, in Durham City, on Saturday, aged 90.

A widower, he survived his wife, Elspeth, by ten years.

Their daughter, Julia, who is in social work, lives in Bristol.

Following his wife’s death, Prof Townend formed a relationship with partner Elizabeth Still, with whom he lived until her death in 2007.

Born in Surrey in September 1919, he was educated at Haileybury School and at Merton College, Oxford University.

Following the war, he taught at Liverpool University from 1946-66, after which he came to Durham as Professor of Latin for the last 18 years of his working life, up to retirement in 1984.

He remained active in the classics field, publishing three books and several articles.

Prof Townend was, primarily, an expert in Latin, Latin history and Latin historians.

Former colleague, retired ancient historian, Professor PJ (Peter) Rhodes, said: “We like to think we’re the next best classics department after Oxford and Cambridge, and he certainly played his part in that.”

■ The funeral takes place at the cathedral, on Wednesday, at 1.30pm. It will be followed by cremation. Donations can be made in lieu of flowers to Oxfam or St Cuthbert’s Hospice.

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