Dennis Dale Cordell
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Cordell, Dr. Dennis Dale DALLAS -- Dr. Dennis Dale Cordell, Associate Dean for the University Curriculum/GEC and Professor of History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, died Wednesday, October 16 after a brief battle with cancer. Funeral services will be held at the First Unitarian Church of Dallas on Friday October 25, 2013 at 4 pm, 4015 Normandy Avenue, Dallas TX 75205. A further celebration of Dr. Cordell's life and service will be held on November 13th at 4pm in Perkins Chapel of SMU. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be sent in memory of Dennis Cordell to Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences of Southern Methodist University, PO Box 750402, Dallas TX 75275-0402, or to the First Unitarian Church of Dallas (address above), or to the work of the Peace Corps--The Health and HIV/AIDS Fund, under Special Funds at donate.peacecorps.gov. Dr Cordell was born in St Louis at 19 minutes after midnight on January 1, 1947 to Harry Jesse Cordell and Jeanne Harrigan Cordell. He was valedictorian of his class at Fox High School in Lee's Summit, MO, and graduated cum laude in history from Yale University in 1968. He immediately joined the Peace Corps, serving in Chad in health education and water projects, and developing a life-long love for the continent of Africa. Upon his return in 1970 he enrolled in the History Department at the University of Wisconsin, earning an MA in 1972 and his Ph.D. in African History in 1977 under the tutelage of Dr. Jan M. Vansina. He also completed a Maitrise es-Science in Demography from the Universite de Montreal in 1987. He was fluent in French and Arabic. He joined the history faculty at SMU in 1977, specializing in comparative world history with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa as well as North Africa, the Middle East, African demography and social history, and the African slave trade and migration. Twenty years later, while continuing to teach and publish, he became the Associate Dean for General Education and spearheaded the transition into the new University Curriculum. He also had oversight of the University Honors Program, the Hilltop and New Century Scholars Programs, and the ESL Program. He was Founding Co-Director of the SMU Summer in Paris program in 1996 and participated for many years, including his final summer. He was also an adjunct professor of demography at the Universite de Montreal and had taught at the University of Mali. Dr. Cordell authored Dar al-Kuti and the Last Years of the Trans-Saharan Slave Trade and, with Joel Gregory and Victor Piche , of Hoe and Wage: A Social History of a Circular Migration System in West Africa, 1900-1975. He edited or co-edited 5 other volumes on Sub Saharan African history and demography as well as, with Jane Lenz Elder,The New Dallas: Immigrants, Community Institutions and Cultural Diversity: A Collection of Student Papers from SMU. He wrote over 65 articles and book chapters as well as scores of book reviews in English and French in journals such as Journal of African History and the Canadian Journal of African Studies, both of which he served as editor, and Politique Africaine. His articles are included in the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History, and the Academic American Encyclopedia. Dr. Cordell was also the recipient of numerous awards and research grants, including those from the National Science Foundation, American Philosophical Society, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Professional organizations and positions were numerous, including president of the Canadian Association of African Studies and Chair of the National Program Committee of the African Studies Association (USA). Of all his many awards, he was particularly proud of the Special award from the Canadian Association of African Studies / Association Canadienne des Etudes Africaines to recognize the promotion of bilingualism in French and English, and professional relations between CAAS / ACÒA and the African Studies Association (USA). He was the only non-Canadian to be so honored. His extensive service to his beloved community of SMU included the new University Curriculum, the President's Task Force on Sexual Misconduct, Education Abroad, the University Athletic Committee, the First-Year Experience Task Force, and many others. At the time of his death, he was the President of the Board of the First Unitarian Church of Dallas, where he enjoyed selling donuts at the Gay and Lesbian table every Sunday. He had also served as a member of the board of trustees of AIDS Arms. In addition to, or perhaps in spite of, his sterling record of accomplishment, Dennis Cordell had a special genius for friendship, and he carefully nurtured these relationships life-long. He leaves a loving and grieving community spanning four continents, generations of grateful students and colleagues, and friends who will miss him dearly. He is survived by his husband Michael Alexander Fuller, his brother Harry C. Cordell and his wife Karen, his sister Suzanne Wildman and her husband Robert, a nephew and three nieces, and countless friends from all over the world. Guardian Funeral Home 5704 James Ave., 817-293-8477




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Published in Dallas Morning News on Oct. 22, 2013.
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Memories & Condolences
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31 entries
October 17, 2014
A year has passed by and still the Canadian Africanist community feels a deep loss. Dennis was the bridge between the Anglophone and Francophone Africanist academic communities, and between the American and Canadian African Studies' Associations. We hold dear those memories of conferences, coffees and conviviality.
Chris Youe
October 29, 2013
Dennis was a friend and colleague as well as a generous and loving soul. I will miss him and my thoughts are with Michael at this very difficult time.
Karl Ittmannn
October 29, 2013
Dennis was a friend and colleague who was a generous and loving soul. I will miss him and I wish Michael the best in what is a very difficult time.
October 29, 2013
My sincere codolences to all of Dennis' family from an Africanist colleague from Wisconsin who also came to Texas.
Henry Bucher, October 29, 2013
henry bucher
October 29, 2013
Dennis and I became fast friends in Chad in the Peace Corps and knowing him greatly enriched my life. He was a brilliant, loving and funny guy who touched so many lives. I will miss him.
Ada Jo Mann
October 29, 2013
Dennis was a kind and gentle person, a fine scholar and one who loved Africa. We were in the Peace Corps together in Chad many years ago and that experience changed us. I am deeply saddened by his death.
Alan Etzel
October 28, 2013
We were saddened to learn of the passing of this very accomplished and dedicated person. Although we have not seen Dennis since serving in the Peace Corps, we have not forgotten his genuine kindness and concern for people; his scholarship and fluent French! His legacy leaves so much to be admired.
Sandra & Richard Walters
October 28, 2013
He was a fine person and scholar who is willing to extend a helping hand. He will be sorely missed
Solomon Addis
October 28, 2013
We are saddened to learn of the passing of Dennis, but very grateful to him for his service to our country in the Peace Corps.

Our condolences,

The National Peace Corps Association
October 28, 2013
All of us at the Canadian Association of African Studies and the journal will miss you so very very much. Thank you for doing so much for African studies in Canada for for helping found the Joel Gregory prize. Your presence is missed, your absence mourned.

Chris Youe, Editor, Canadian Journal of African Studies
Chris Youe
October 28, 2013
Dennis was a shining light in African Studies and a founding member of the LGBT caucus. His mentorship and friendship will always be remembered.
Benjamin Lawrance
October 28, 2013
Dennis brought out the best in everyone who knew him. His fine mind and deep commitment, joined with his special grace, made him a joy to encounter. He will be missed and vividly remembered.
Frank Chalk
October 27, 2013
I knew Dennis Cordell in Dallas, when I was at SMU in the 1990s. He was my dear friend and mentor --and I learned so much from him, about Africa, about history, about local and larger politics. His scholarship and way of seeing the world with clarity and compassion enriched my life. I so fondly remember our long conversations over many occasions and think of his wit and humor too. I think he is smiling with gentleness and warmth in heaven!! x
Jyotsna Singh
October 27, 2013
Just forgot to sign:

Mohamed Mbodj, New York
October 27, 2013
This is indeed a huge loss to the many friends and colleagues that Dennis made with his devastating smile, his stellar scholarship, his loyalty, and overall his genuine kindness. He will be sorely missed by his friends and family. This is a very sad day..
October 27, 2013
It is with immense sadness that I read about the passing of this great man, intrepid colleague and kind friend. His writings and fellowship will forever be inspirational. A great tree has fallen. Ghislaine Lydon
October 27, 2013
Dennis's passion for research was matched only by his passion for life and love -- love of Africa, love of family, love of friends. He welcomed me into his world many years ago and helped me find my way into the community of Africanists. He remains a part of who I am and who I will always strive to be. We have been fortunate to have had Dennis with us for so long; what he leaves to each of us and to African scholarship lives on.
Ann McDougall
October 27, 2013
Dennis was a wonderful scholar, teacher, and colleague. His work excavating many of the lesser known areas of African history was truly exceptional. He was a warm and generous colleague and will be greatly missed.
Tom Spear
October 27, 2013
Dennis was a good friend, a fine scholar, a gentle, generous and humane person. He had a commitment to Africa, to teaching, and to learning. The world is a little better for his having been here. I will miss him. My condoleances to Michael and to the rest of his family.
Martin Klein
October 26, 2013
Dennis overcame much grief and sadness to live an exemplary life as scholar, teacher and friend. His contributions to African studies in Africa, Canada, and the U.S. were outstanding and he will be greatly missed.
Myron Echenberg
October 25, 2013
An indefatigable colleague and citizen of the academy, who will be sorely missed.
Bruce Fetter
October 25, 2013
A gentle, generous, always wise colleague and friend - living on in my fond memories of forty years.
Joe Miller
October 25, 2013
Oh, sadness, Dennis was one of the dearest, kindest Africanists around, and his innovative, impeccable scholarship on reproduction in Africa showed the same special care and thoughtfulness.
Nancy Hunt
October 24, 2013
Adieu, Dennis. Tu vas nous manquer terriblement, tant pour la grande compétence que pour l'extrême gentillesse dont tu as constamment fait preuve. Je pense beaucoup à ta famille et à la douleur qu'elle doit éprouver.
Jacques Vallin
October 23, 2013
To my life long friend, I will miss you. from student #1 at SMU,
jim clark
October 23, 2013
Un grand nom de la démographie africaine nous a quittés
Christophe Guilmoto
October 23, 2013
Dennis and Michael were the first to welcome my wife and me to the neighborhood and were a joy getting to know. We are saddened about Dennis passing and our condolences go out to Michael and the family.
Yuanyuan & Blair
October 22, 2013
I have been a friend of Dennis since we were in the Peace Corps together over 40 years ago. We saw each other in Dallas, Washington, Montreal, and France and remained close throughout the ups and downs of life. Dennis was like a brother to me and I will miss him.
Tom Mann
October 22, 2013
Few people have affected my life as strongly as Dennis, and few will ever evoke such a strong sense of loss. He was my boss, my mentor, my teacher, and my friend. I considered him a member of my family and I was lucky to know him and his generous spirit for 17 years. Dennis truly did make lasting friendships. Wendy Pickett, Class of 2001
Wendy Pickett
October 22, 2013
It was both a joy and a pleasure to be in the company of Dennis. He made others feel god about themselves. He will be missed.
Judy Cederholm
October 22, 2013
It is an honor to have been Dennis' friend, a man of such intelligence, enthusiasm, humor and pure goodness. I mourn his passing.
Beth Mann
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