BRIDGEWATER — Strother Beeson Purdy, 88 years old, of Bridgewater, died after a short illness on May 20, 2021.
He is survived by his wife, Evelyne Acheson Purdy, and his children, Alexandra P. Williams (John) of Katonah, N.Y., and Strother B. Purdy, III, (Dinah Barthelmess) of Chicago, Ill.; his former daughter-in-law, Jeannette Purdy of Bridgewater; his step-daughters, Sarah Acheson of New York City and Stephanie Berman (Dan) of Canton, Mass.; his first wife, Janet James Purdy, and his grandchildren, Oliver, Amelia, Elinor, Josephine, Isaac, Samuel and Luke. He was predeceased by his sister Patricia P. Wyman Goodhue.
Born on September 6, 1932, in New York City, he grew up in Purdys, N.Y., and attended Rippowam School, Harvey School, Phillips Academy, Andover and Yale University, Class of 1954. He completed his master’s in English at Columbia University, his doctorate in English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1960), and studied Sanskrit in India on a Fulbright Scholarship.
Professionally, he taught at the American University in Beirut, then became a tenured professor of English, linguistics and film at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis.
His many adventures included working on the local North Salem farms as a boy, motorcycle racing as a young man, night climbing buildings while at college and grad school.
In 1964, when returning from Beirut, the young father, along with his wife and small daughter, traveled overland in a VW camper for a year through Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
In 1981 he left Marquette University and the family moved to Bridgewater. A lifelong scholar, he continued to research, publish and lecture, while amassing an immense book collection.
He volunteered in his community, serving on the Inland Wetlands Commission, becoming an EMT and instructor for the Bridgewater Fire Department, then becoming a paramedic in Danbury and New Britain.
Regular Sunday motorcycle trips to Marcus Dairy were a given, with some of the posted speed limits a mere suggestion. He fulfilled a youthful desire to be a fighter pilot by becoming a skilled acrobatic flyer.
He married Evelyne in 2000 and together they tended the property, entertained many friends, visited with children and traveled to conferences or for pleasure.
A memorial service will be held at his beloved home in Bridgewater. To honor his love of the arts, donors are asked to make a donation in his memory to a favorite museum or a nearby cultural organization.