John C. Unrue

January 15, 1937January 14, 2022
Obituary of John C. Unrue
John C. Unrue, 84, of Las Vegas, Nevada, died on January 14, 2022, after a long illness. He was born on January 15, 1937, to John E. Unrue, Jr. and Pauline Huddleston Unrue in Charleston, West Virginia. He attended Marshall University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish and his Master of Arts in English. He attended The Ohio State University, where he received his PhD in English; his field of specialization was Medieval literature. He married Darlene Harbour on April 14, 1960, and they had two children: John G. Unrue and Jane E. Unrue. He was Professor of English at UNLV from 1970-2014. He served as Chair of the English Department, Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, and Senior Vice President and Provost. During his administrative career, he established new Schools of Communication and Architecture; new Colleges of Engineering, Human Performance/Development, and Fine/Performing Arts; the National Super Computing Center for Energy and the Environment; the UNLV Office for Research; certificate programs in Gerontology and Honors; seven new baccalaureate programs and a post-baccalaureate program in Science and Education; ten new master’s degree programs; the first doctoral program (in Biology) and nine other doctoral programs; and was involved in planning and implementation of M.F.A. programs in Creative Writing and Fine and Performing Arts. He published On Books and Writers: Selected Essays by Matthew J. Bruccoli; J. D. Salinger; and J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. He was a consultant to and participant in Salinger, a full-length documentary film premiering in the PBS series American Masters. He published more than fifty articles in academic journals and reference works on American Modernist writers, including, especially, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and J.D. Salinger, and he presented more than twenty papers in the United States, Cuba, France, Hungary, Italy, and Mexico. He was listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the West. He served on the advisory boards of the Nevada Dance Theatre, Simba Dance Group, Las Vegas Symphonic Association, Allied Arts Council, Friends of Theatre, Temporary Assistance League for Women, KLVX Public Television, Focus Youth Services, and from 1978-1993 was a member of the Nevada Humanities Committee. From 1975-1977 he served as Secretary of the Las Vegas Urban League. He was – along with Monk Montgomery, Jay Cameron, Frank Gagliardi, Ken Joy, John Lindner, Sari Phillips, Tom Severns, Dan Skea, and Judy Tarte – a founding member of the Las Vegas Jazz Society. He was a beloved teacher and mentor, a valued colleague, and a respected scholar and administrator who left behind the rich legacy of his contributions during the time of UNLV’s growth into an important research institution. He was also a tireless advocate for the arts. Those who knew him well knew his honesty, his loyalty, his moral fortitude, his kindness, his generosity, his brilliant wit, his impeccable manners, his appreciation of fine wine, and his love of dogs. He was a lifelong athlete who turned down a career in baseball (he was a long-ball hitter and a pitcher) to pursue his graduate studies. He ran many a road race in Las Vegas and continued to run into the penultimate year of his life. A loving husband and father, he is survived by his wife of sixty-one years, Darlene; his daughter, Jane; his granddaughters Paulina and Daria; and his daughter-in-law, Maria. He was preceded in death by his parents and his son. Graveside services will be held in El Cerrito, California. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions in John C. Unrue’s memory be made to The Ohio State University English Department (within the College of Arts and Sciences) or to the Lied Library at UNLV. (Links may be found below.)

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