CHAPIN — Brenda Gayle Ruff Swanson, 69, died Tuesday, February 18, 2014, at her home. A brief committal service with burial will be held in Newberry Memorial Gardens. Whitaker Funeral Home in Newberry is assisting with arrangements. Gayle's friends, colleagues, former students, and family are invited to gather in celebration of her life on Sunday, March 16, at 4 p.m. at the Seibels House and Garden, 1601 Richland Street, Columbia, SC 29201.
Born on November 28, 1944, in Newberry, SC, Gayle was the only child of the late Leona Chloé DeHart and Marvin Maurice Ruff. She earned her bachelor's degree from Newberry College in 1967 and a PhD from the University of South Carolina in 1976. In 1977 she joined the faculty at Newberry College and was granted tenure in 1982. She was a two-time winner of the student government association's Professor of the Year award and advisor for the Newberry College art and literature magazine, the Kinnikinnick. After fifteen years, Gayle left Newberry College, and from 1991 to 1999 she taught as an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina.
Gayle was not only a gifted and passionate teacher but also a respected scholar and editor. Her work appears in the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook 1982, in Notes on Teaching English, and in the book Executions and the British Experience from the 17th to the 20th Century, edited by William B. Thesing. With Thesing she co-authored Conversations with South Carolina Poets, published by John F. Blair in 1986. She presented her research at various academic conferences, including the National Council of Teachers of English, the South Carolina Association of Developmental Educators, the Georgia-South Carolina College English Association, and the Philological Association of the Carolinas.
In 1989 she was named editor of the international journal Studies in Short Fiction. She became a consulting editor for The Explicator in 1991 and later served as one of the journal's executive editors.
Gayle was also a highly skilled text editor. From 1991 to 2002, she edited book-length manuscripts for presses at the Naval Institute, the University of Georgia, the University of Nebraska, the University of Florida, the University of South Carolina, and the Open Society Institute in Budapest, Hungary. From 1999-2011, she was the external editor for the State Department of Education in South Carolina.
With her beloved Marly, a miniature Australian shepherd and certified pet therapy dog, Gayle made regular visits to cheer patients at the South Carolina Oncology Associates cancer treatment center and at Lexington Medical Center.
She was predeceased by her longtime companion, Hugh V. Crofoot, Jr.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to an animal welfare organization of one's choice or to Therapy Dogs, Inc., at www.therapydogs.com.
Condolences may be conveyed online at www.whitakerfuneralhome.com. Whitaker Funeral Home of Newberry is assisting with arrangements.