Richard T. Antoun '53

A memorial service will be held on Friday, December 11th, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Binghamton, 183 Riverside Drive, Binghamton, NY 13905. Visiting hours will be from 11:30-12:30 and the service will begin at 12:30. Expressions of sympathy in memory of Dick may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Binghamton (UUCB) to support interfaith programming or the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW).

Please see below for articles and comments with many tributes to Professor Antoun.

Binghamton Campus Grieves for Slain Professor

Richard Antoun’s widow: Society has lost a wonderful peacemaker

VESTAL — From a home they shared for 17 years, Richard Antoun’s widow said Saturday evening that her husband had wanted only peace.

“(Richard) worked with people in foreign cultures, and he wanted people to understand that people are people,” Rosalyn Antoun said. “He worked for Peace Action, and he wanted to see peace in the world. So it’s very ironic that he should die in this way.” […]

“It’s like a movie,”Antoun said. “It’s like you’re living in a movie.”

Rosalyn, a 63-year-old employee of the Jewish Federation, said she prefers to go by Roz. Rich, too, preferred a nickname: Dick. They were married 17 years and spent all of them on Murray Hill Road, which runs adjacent to campus.

“It’s terrible and the most terrible thing is that this is happening more and more,” she said. “It’s happening like every other day. We’re seeing it all over the place.”

Rosalyn said she did not want to discuss the circumstances surrounding Richard’s death, only to speak about the kind of person he was.

“I don’t think it was intolerance,” she said. “I think the guy who did this, he had his own reasons. But I think Dick, who only wanted peace and justice in the world, didn’t deserve to die like this. I think society has lost a wonderful person and a wonderful peacemaker.”

Prof. Richard Antoun remembered as gentle man dedicated to dispelling stereotypes about different cultures

VESTAL — Richard T. Antoun was a caring and gentle man who spent his life trying to dispel stereotypes about different cultures, especially Middle Eastern cultures, his colleagues at Binghamton University said Friday. […]

“An important part of what he did was to show Middle Eastern people as human beings with emotions just like our own,” said Donald Quataert, a professor of history at BU who had worked with Antoun since 1986.

“I can’t imagine who would be his enemy,” said George Haeseler, a long-time friend and colleague. […]

“The approach of a social anthropologist is to achieve understanding without supporting or attacking,” Antoun said seven years ago after the publication of his book, “Understanding Fundamentalism: Christian, Islamic and Jewish Movements. Released in August 2001, the book received added attention and interest in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

“He was a distinguished scholar,” Quataert said. But equally important, Antoun was a thoughtful, considerate and “very kind” person, his long-time colleague said.

Antoun was active in the local peace-action movement and spoke five years ago at an interfaith conference in Johnson City on religious fundamentalism. Throughout his career, he repeatedly talked about the need for cultural understanding and tolerance.

“Muslims in general get portrayed in a bad light,” he said during one Press & Sun-Bulletin interview. “We’re trying to get students to look more deeply into the culture and not accept stereotypes.” […]

H. Stephen Straight, a professor of anthropology and linguistics, had difficulty controlling his emotions as he talked about Antoun.

“He was the gentlest man I’ve known,” said Straight, a long-time colleague of Antoun. He called the late BU faculty member “someone you were always happy to see.”

Antoun was someone who dedicated his life to working to dispel myths about different peoples, Straight said.

That makes his death “unbelievably tragic,” Straight said. […]

Richard Moench, a professor emeritus of anthropology, described Antoun as a man who had no enemies.

“I can’t imagine this happening,” Moench said. […]

Antoun was a very interesting person, Paul Stratford said. During their lively visits and parties, he would share stories with his neighbors of his adventures and life in the Middle East.

He enjoyed football. He liked organic vegetables, and for a time he tended his own garden, producing fresh vegetables that he shared with neighbors until the deer got to be too much.

He never seemed to slow down over the years.

“He was in great shape,” Paul Stratford said.

(thanks to Another ’05 Eph for links and memorial info)

Student Held in Killing of New York Professor

A 46-year-old Binghamton University graduate student from Saudi Arabia was charged on Saturday with killing a retired anthropology professor, a specialist in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, with whom he had worked, the authorities said.

The student, Abdulsalam S. al-Zahrani, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of the professor, Richard T. Antoun, who was stabbed in his office in the university’s Science I building on Friday afternoon, said Gerald F. Mollen, the district attorney in Broome County. “We believe the murder weapon was recovered,” he said.

Mr. Mollen said in a statement that Mr. Zahrani and Professor Antoun had known each other through Mr. Zahrani’s “work in the graduate program.” Later, in an interview, the district attorney said that “they’ve known each other for quite some time” but that the extent of their contact was unclear.[…]

Professor Antoun, 77, received a doctorate from Harvard in 1963 and joined the Binghamton faculty in the early 1970s. He was “a sociocultural anthropologist who has conducted research among peasants in Jordan, urbanites in Lebanon, peasant farmers in Iran and migrants in Texas and Greece,” according to the university’s Web site. He retired in 1999 as professor emeritus.

“He dedicated his life to trying to understand the people of the Middle East,” said the professor’s sister Linda Miller, of Holden, Mass. “He never said an unkind word to anyone in his life.” Ms. Miller’s husband, the Rev. David J. Miller, said that Professor Antoun had been married to his wife, Rosalyn, for 17 years and had a son, Nicholas [’91], 40.

“Our entire community has been affected by this,” Gail C. Glover, a university spokeswoman, said on Saturday. “Professor Antoun was a longtime member of our campus community, and his loss is profoundly felt.”

In his statement, Mr. Mollen said there was “no indication of religious or ethnic motivation” in the killing. He said no other arrests were expected.

Our deepest condolences to Professor Antoun’s family and friends.

(thanks to concerned for bringing this to our attention; image credit to the Ithaca Journal)

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