Marshall William Fishwick

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Marshall William Fishwick, teacher, author, world traveler, died Monday, May 22 at his home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He was 82.

Born in Roanoke, Virginia and a graduate of Jefferson High School, he held degrees from the University of Virginia, the University of Wisconsin, and Yale University, and received honorary degrees later from Krakov University, Bombay University, and Dhaka University. After teaching twelve years at Washington and Lee University (1949-62), where he began the American Studies program, he became Director of the Wemyss Foundation in Wilmington, Delaware.

Fishwick also taught at Lincoln University for six years before moving to Virginia Tech in 1976 as Professor of Humanities and Communication Studies. He taught courses in Popular Culture, launched a new American Studies concentration, and received "Outstanding Teacher" awards at both institutions.

Widely regarded as the originator of a new discipline "Popular Culture" he received eight Fulbright Awards and numerous additional grants which enabled him to introduce this field at home and abroad in Denmark, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Bangladesh, India, and Korea. He also began the journal, International Popular Culture.

Co-founder of the Popular Culture Association, Fishwick served as its President and Advisory Editor of both the Journal of Popular Culture and the Journal of American Culture. Throughout his career he contributed articles on American Studies and Popular Culture to papers and journals all over the world; he also published numerous articles and commentaries in American magazines and newspapers. In 1997 he was given the Life Achievement Award in Popular Culture by the Popular Culture Association.

Fishwick's literary career began while he was at sea with the Atlantic Fleet during World War II. His collected poems, The Face of Jang, were published in 1945. After the War he got a doctorate in American Studies at Yale University. His dissertation was published as A New Look at the Old Dominion.

He went on to write more than 20 books and to edit an additional dozen in the fields of history, literature, education, theology, and communication. A lifelong interest in heroes resulted in such titles as Virginians on Olympus, The Hero: Myth and Reality, The Hero: American Style, Heroes of Popular Culture, and The Hero in Transition. Other titles included Lee after the War, General Lee's Photographer, Springlore in Virginia, and Faust Revisited.

His books on popular culture included Seven Pillars of Popular Culture, Common Culture and the Great Tradition, Great Awakenings: Popular Religion in America and most recently, two textbooks, Go and Catch a Falling Star and An American Mosaic. An inveterate traveler, Fishwick reminisced about his journeys in Around the World in Forty Years. His most recent book, Cicero and Popular Culture, is in press and will be published posthumously.Fishwick was a member of the Guild of Scholars of the Episcopal Church and former Historiographer of the Diocese of Southwest Virginia. He was a member of Christ Episcopal Church, Blacksburg.

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Ann La Berge (Fishwick), four children, the Reverend Jeffrey Fishwick, Charlottesville, VA., Ellen McLean, Madison, WI., Susan Green, Winnetka, IL., and Lucy Reinhardt, Fairfield, CT., two stepchildren, Leigh Claire La Berge, Brooklyn, NY. and Louisa La Berge, Madison, WI., 13 grandchildren, a brother, John P. Fishwick, VA., two sisters, Manette Adams, New Haven, CT., and Anne Hughes, Decatur, GA. The funeral will take place at Christ Episcopal Church, Church and Jackson Streets in Blacksburg on Thursday, May 25 at 11 a.m. with the Reverends Elizabeth Morgan and Alex Evans officiating. A reception in the parish hall will follow the service. A private interment will take place in Roanoke, VA. The family requests no flowers, but suggests memorial gifts to the Leyburn Library at Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia. Arrangements by McCOY FUNERAL HOME, Blacksburg, VA.

Published in The Washington Post on May 24, 2006
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