A North Carolinian by birth, a United States Marine by happenstance, a reader and scholar by choice, and a historian and teacher by profession, Burl Lee Noggle died on November 6, 2013, in his library at home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at the age of 89. He was born in Bostic, North Carolina, on July 1, 1924. He was educated in the public schools in Morganton, North Carolina. In 1943 he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, serving in the South Pacific on the Island of Saipan. Under the G.I. Bill he attended Duke University. There he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1950 and was awarded his B.A. in 1950, his M.A. in 1951, and his Ph.D. in 1955 in the field of U.S. History. His first teaching job was at New Mexico State University, where from 1955 to 1960 he taught Latin American History and Western Civilization. His long career at Louisiana State University began in the fall session of 1960. As a professor in the Department of History, he focused on historiography and Twentieth Century U.S. History. His teaching responsibilities were wide: undergraduate classes, graduate seminars, U.S. History survey courses, Honors classes, special topics in U.S. History, and readings courses. He also taught summer session history courses at Duke University and the Johns Hopkins University. An exemplary scholar and an inspiring teacher, Burl combined traditional historical methods and resources with works of fiction and popular culture, especially movies, photography, and popular music, to explore the history of the U.S. in the first half of the twentieth century. He added the "The Age of Roosevelt" to the History Department course catalog. He taught and ran the seminar in American Historiography for 25 years. Late in his career, his love for the American West -- which began in New Mexico -- led him to develop and teach courses in Western History. Burl's great love was reading and collecting books and sharing them with his students, colleagues, friends, and family. Each year he took pleasure in selecting works for the various levels of his classes, and they formed, in his words, "a wonderful, varied, eclectic parade of books" for those 35 years in the classroom at LSU. He himself published four books: "Teapot Dome: Oil and Politics in the 1920's " (1962), "Into the Twenties: The United States from Armistice to Normalcy" (1974), "Working with History: The Historical Records Survey in Louisiana and the Nation, 1936-1942" (1981), and "The Fleming Lectures 1937 – 1990: A Historiographical Essay" (1992), and numerous articles in professional journals. For many of the hundreds, if not thousands, of students he interacted with in his career, he was "a special teacher" for the appreciation he imparted for the complexity of events and ideas. He considered his greatest achievement the training of historians, whom he helped to mold into readers, writers, and respected teachers in the discipline. He directed the work of over 75 M.A. and Ph.D. students at LSU. In 1985 the university named him a Distinguished Alumni Professor, awarded for achievement in teaching. For the LSU Press, he was a reader for submitted manuscripts in U.S. History and related subjects and he served on the Faculty Press Committee. He was an active member of the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and the Southern Historical Association. Upon retirement from LSU in 1995, Burl and his wife, Kathleen "Kate" Randall, remained in Baton Rouge, where he was, as he said, "continuing my education," reading widely and maintaining his "Reader's Journal" of commentary and memoir. He savored sharing life experiences and interests with his children, Steve, Vanessa, and Amy, and his grandchildren, Claire and Matt. And he delighted in being a beloved member of his wife's family. Burl Noggle lived a long, interesting, and fruitful life of purpose. He would deem that epitaph enough. A Memorial Gathering will be held at 2:00 P.M. on Sunday, January 19, 2014, at Lod Cook Alumni Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Published in The Advocate on Jan. 12, 2014.