BOWLING GREEN - Thomas Wymer, 71, whose diverse interests informed his teaching and scholarship as a Bowling Green State University English professor, died Saturday in St. Luke's Hospital, Maumee.
He had leukemia the last nine months.
He retired in 2007 as an emeritus professor of English. He was hired in 1966.
Mr. Wymer became a leader in graduate studies early on, first as assistant director in 1968. He later was associate chairman and coordinator of graduate studies. He was English department chairman from 1999-2003.
A theme at his retirement party was that no matter how many times he taught a course, with each succeeding semester "he went into it as if it were brand new. His enthusiasm took over," his daughter, Elizabeth, said.
"He was proud of sharing his knowledge," she said. "He wasn't a prideful man, and he wasn't a demonstrative man, but he loved to talk and to teach and to share."
When he engaged students in a conversation, said Carol Stevens, a former graduate student, "the idea was that you were both working toward something. You were both learning."
"He was a deeply kind person," said Ms. Stevens, a retired Eastern Illinois University English professor. "Academically, he was tough. He was very rigorous. But he could critique with great gentleness and generosity and still get the point across."
He also championed studies across lines of discipline and department. In the early 1990s he was an author, with BGSU faculty members Thomas Klein and Bruce Edwards, of a textbook for the multidisciplinary Great Ideas course.
"An issue is not relegated to a single chapter," Mr. Wymer said in 1991 of the textbook. "For example, you'll find feminism and ethnicity represented in the section on science."
Mr. Wymer received a bachelor's degree in physics from Rice University, where "he had to take a literature course as a requirement - and fell in love with the English language and literature. And it all went from there," his daughter said. "He firmly believed that a well-rounded education is imperative."
His specialty was Victorian literature, and he received a doctorate from the University of Oklahoma. He believed science fiction and fantasy were literature worthy of serious scholarship, and he taught courses in both.
He also was a leader in BGSU's technical communications program.
He was on the editorial boards of the science fiction scholarly journal Extrapolation, the Journal of Popular Culture, and the Journal of American Culture Studies.
Mr. Wymer was born Nov. 25, 1938, in Columbus, but was in his early teens when his father's job took the family to Texas.
He was a Mason. He gardened, he jogged and played tennis for years, and, when the weather allowed, he rode his bicycle to get around Bowling Green, his daughter said.
Surviving are his wife, Penelope, whom he married Sept. 8, 1962; daughter, Elizabeth Goodrow; son, William Wymer; brother, Robert Wymer; sister, Patricia French, and three grandsons.
Memorial services will be held next year, his daughter said. Arrangements are by the Dunn Funeral Home, Bowling Green.
The family suggests tributes to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society or to the BGSU English department's foundation account for the Thomas L. Wymer Undergraduate Senior Thesis Award.
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