Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Elizabeth "BJ" Warnock Fernea R.I.P.


Elizabeth W. "BJ" Fernea (1927-2008), I am sad to have to note, died yesterday afternoon (Dec. 2, 2008). A friend reports that she died peacefully holding the hands of her husband Bob and daughter Laila. She left this life with a smile on her face. BJ's many friends will know that tell-tale smile, which was so often accompanied by a knowing nod. Arrangements are still being made, but the funeral will be in Austin.

Added: A memorial page where you may leave your memories of BJ.
It is common to hear friends refer to BJ and her tireless energy, but she wearied like all of the rest of us. The difference was BJ’s capacity to drive herself even when she was pooped; all the while without relinquishing her humor or her impatience with silly rules. She did not know the meaning of “can’t” so she was hard to refuse–though you might have ten things on your to-do list, you knew that she had twice as many. BJ inspired people to reach down inside themselves and to do good things that they had never considered doing before. She was a mentor long before the word became a cliche.
I knew BJ, usually from a distance, for about a quarter century. During a brief stint as a visiting professor at UT in the mid-1980s, I spent some long, memorable days with her. At day’s end, I would discover that she had already organized a dinner party that would have her home brimming with delightful people, or that there was a dizzying evening agenda yet to come of meetings, receptions or lectures.
I cherish her memory as a caring, wise friend, an exemplary teacher, and, most of all, as a women who truly loved humanity, and who showed that love through her films, her books and her relentless compassion.
arn, December 5, 2008
UT-Austin Center for Middle East Studies obituary.

Austin newspaper obit.

LATimes.

London Telegraph.

Zaman (updated)

3 comments:

khowaga said...

The University of Texas has set up a guestbook on ShelfLife@Texas, the campus-wide literary blog.

All who knew BJ are invited to leave memories and reminiscences.

arn said...

From Mary O'Grady
Dear Professor Norton,
B.J. was the greatest teacher I ever had. She opened my eyes to so much.
I will never forget the semester-long seminar she organized in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, in the spring of 1986. You were one of the speakers, and very compelling and informative indeed.

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