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Nov 8, 1929 - July 8, 2012
A nationally recognized scholar, teacher, and connoisseur, William Innes Homer was the H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Art History at the University of Delaware. He arrived at UD in September 1966 to assume an appointment as the first Chair of the newly created department. While attending Princeton University, inspirational teachers piqued Homer's interest in art history and he majored in the field earning his BA in 1951. He then went on to Harvard University where he completed a master's degree followed by the Ph.D. in 1961. During that period he was invited to return to Princeton as an instructor while he completed his own studies. Having published an acclaimed book on the color theories of Georges Seurat, essentially his dissertation, Dr. Homer could have easily had a successful career mining the riches of French modernism. His attention, however, was attracted by the nascent field of American art, then emerging as the focus of doctoral research, teaching, and museum exhibitions by himself and a few other scholars. He was teaching at Cornell University when he was asked to consider a new opportunity at UD. There with fellow Americanists, Wayne Craven and George Tatum, Dr. Homer continued to facilitate the development of the field and also carried the torch for the study of the history of photography. Dr. Homer's impact as a scholar, teacher, administrator, curator, collector, artist and photographer cannot be overstated. After his retirement from UD in 2000, Dr. Homer remained very active. The Paris Letters of Thomas Eakins, his last of 11 well received books, was awarded a Wyeth Foundation for American Art Publication Grant from the College Art Association. The final volume of Eakins letters remains among several nearly finished projects.
Dr. Homer was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised on the Main Line. An accomplished musician since childhood and an ardent HAM radio operator, his other hobbies including trapshooting and billiards.
The recipient of many honors, awards and fellowships, Dr. Homer was also an involved and caring private person who cherished his family. He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Christine Hyer Homer, his sons Stacy Innes Homer and Frederick L. (Jacqueline) Hyer III and daughters, Susan Christine Hyer, Elizabeth Hyer (Robert) Rose and granddaughters Siana Christine Sharp and Phoebe Lucas Hyer. Completing the immediate family constellation are his dear brother Stephen A. (Florence) Homer and many cousins, all part of a rich tapestry of loving family, friends and caregivers who surrounded him, particularly during his last year.
A memorial service and celebration of life will be held at Christ Church Christiana Hundred, Greenville, DE on October 26, 2012 at 11:30 am. Guests are invited to a luncheon following the service. Please call Chandler Funeral Homes at 302-478-7100 if you plan to attend.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Department of Art History, University of Delaware, Attn: Linda Magner, 318 Old College, Newark, DE 19716-2516.
Chandler Funeral Homes and Crematorium
2506 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19803
Published in The News Journal on July 22, 2012