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Published: Monday, 8/23/2004

Former professor at BGSU was veteran of glider infantry

Stuart Ray Givens, a former history professor at Bowling Green State University, died of a heart attack Thursday in St. Luke's Hospital.

He was 80.

Born in Hawaii, Mr. Givens met his wife, Florence Porter, when they were students at Roosevelt High School in Washington.

They graduated from high school in 1942. She went to Pennsylvania State University and he enrolled at George Washington University.

Mr. Givens had barely completed his freshman year when he was drafted into the military, serving in the glider infantry in Europe.

Following his return, the Givenses were married in 1947 and he returned to George Washington to complete his bachelor's degree.

"He loved history. He had a mind that absorbed a lot of details," his wife said.

"He was a very personable guy who had a great sense of humor and was very even-tempered."

After he earned his first degree in 1948, the couple headed to Stanford University, where Mr. Givens pursued a doctorate in history.

British Commonwealth and American history were his favorite fields of study, said his wife, even though he branched into Canadian history in his later years.

With all but his dissertation written, Mr. Givens accepted a teaching position at BGSU in 1952.

He finished his doctorate from Stanford in 1956.

"In those days, it wasn't easy to get work and so we were glad when we came to Bowling Green," said Mrs. Givens.

An avid reader, Mr. Givens loved to travel.

His wife said that they drove throughout the continental United States and did a lot of traveling in parts of Europe.

At BGSU, Mr. Givens served on a number of boards and committees, ranging from chairing the history department to working on the university senate.

Mr. Givens was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Bowling Green, where he served as an deacon and Sunday school teacher since 1952.

He was a member of the Kiwanis Club, the Ohio Historical Society, and the Ohio Academy of History, of which he was an executive committee member and editor of the newsletter.

Surviving are his wife, Florence; daughter, Martha Sears; sons, Willard and Bennet, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church.

A reception will follow the service and a private interment ceremony will be held in Oak Grove Cemetery.

The family suggests tributes be made to the Stuart and Florence Givens History Scholarship Fund or the First Presbyterian Church Memorial Fund.

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