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Turner Cassity

Family-Placed Death Notice

CASSITY, Turner - Turner Cassity died on Sunday, July 26, 2009, after a short illness. The only son of Allen Davenport and Dorothy (Turner) Cassity, Allen Turner Cassity was born on January 12, 1929, in Jackson, Mississippi. His father died when he was four years old. Cassity graduated from Jackson's old Central High School He received a B.A. from Millsaps College in 1951, an M.A. from Stanford University in 1952, and served two years in the U.S. Army before receiving an M.S. from Columbia University in 1956. Cassity was an assistant librarian at the Jackson Municipal Library in 1957-58. One day when a stranger came in and asked if he would like to work in South Africa, Cassity's response was an emphatic "yes." For the next two years he was an assistant librarian at the Transvaal Provincial Library in Pretoria, South Africa. When Cassity returned to the United States, he joined the staff of the Robert Woodruff Library at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He served as chief of the serials and binding department at the library from 1964 until his retirement in 1991. As Cassity often said, his day jobs made his real career possible. From 1966 to 2007 he published eleven books of poetry, and a twelfth collection is scheduled for publication in the fall. A Booklist contributor judged Cassity's work succinctly: "He is a national treasure." Cassity's many awards and honors include induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters; he also received that organization's Michael Braude Award. Millsaps College conferred a doctor of humane letters on him. In 2008, Cassity was particularly delighted by "A Tribute to Turner Cassity" during a conference at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Several years ago Cassity said: "...I have no sense of being written out." His most recent work confirms that this was an accurate assessment. Turner Cassity traveled extensively, often to pursue his passion for opera. His survivors are cousins and friends in several states who will remember his wit and his tendency to play the devil's advocate, both of which were also elements in his poetry. Services for Alan Turner Cassity will be held at the Forest Methodist Church in Forest, Mississippi, on Thursday, July 30, 2009, with burial in Eastern Cemetery. A. S. Turner & Sons
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on July 30, 2009
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