Alan Cecil Petigny

July 5, 1965September 24, 2013

Dr. Alan C. Petigny, 48, of Tampa, passed away September 24, 2013 in Gainesville, FL. He was born in Queens, NY, July 5, 1965 and grew up in New York, Ontario, Canada and Paris, France before moving to Tampa in 1981. Alan graduated from Chamberlain High school and completed his B.A. at the USF where he graduated with honors in 1992. He earned awards as a reporter for National Public Radio and worked as a policy analyst for the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee before returning to graduate school at Brown University where he earned his PhD in History in 2003. Alan has been a member of the history faculty at University of Florida in Gainesville since 2000. In 2009, Cambridge University Press published his influential first book, The Permissive Society: America, 1941-1965. In 2010, UF granted him tenure and as an associate professor, Dr. Alan Petigny taught popular classes on American social and intellectual history, the 1950’s and the Sixties.

Alan embraced life fully, deriving great satisfaction from surprising and delighting others, challenging a worthy opponent in a game of racquetball, and teaching and mentoring students. He is remembered as a loving and devoted son, beloved brother and uncle, cherished friend and esteemed professor. His impressive accomplishments are surpassed only by his legacy of generosity and loving kindness to many. Alan is survived by his mother, Pearl Petigny, his sisters Michelle, Sheila and Lola, his brothers, Ludlow, Arthur and Mario, his niece Naimah and nephew Julius. We mourn the loss of this brilliant life ended so soon.

Visitation and funeral services will be held at the Tampa First Seventh Day Adventist Church on October 6, 2013 at 1:00 to 3:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be to The Tampa First Seventh Day Adventist Church to establish a college scholarship fund in his name.


  • Funeral Service Sunday, October 6, 2013

Alan Cecil Petigny

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Gregory Chapman

February 2, 2014

I'm so saddened to hear this news. Alan was always such a remarkable fellow, and one I admired the first day we met in High School. Alan had such a knack of engaging me in such wonderful conversations; and destroying me in racket ball. My living so far from friends like Alan takes such a toll. As always, I miss him.

Brian Domitrovic

October 15, 2013

Gentle, droll to perfection, and that incisive mind. Time was so well spent with Alan it was, on reflection, almost shocking. But one was never shocked with Alan, things were so easy going with him. He showed us something of the beau ideal of friendship.

Keith Harmon

October 14, 2013

My deepest condolences to Alan's family and friends. It's been over ten years since I last saw Alan, but he's someone I've always considered a good friend, all the way back to high school He was smart, funny, and a good man, and I am so stunned and saddened to learn of his passing.

David Geggus

October 10, 2013

Alan was such an unfailingly friendly person. We first met in an elevator more than twenty years ago when he mistook me for a fellow student. Later we became colleagues. Never once, I think, did our paths cross without his coming up with something cheerful to say, something that made the day a bit better. I called him “Monsieur le Baron,” because one of his distant ancestors in Haiti had been made a baron. But he was a bit of a prince, too.

Brian Ward

October 9, 2013

It was with great sadness that I heard news of Alan's passing. For more than 6 years we were colleagues at the University of Florida; for some of that time I was his head of department. As a scholar, Alan combined a genuine curiosity about the sources and nature of ideas and social trends with a kind of intellectual contrariness of the best kind: he never let you settle for easy assumptions or glib generalizations, but always challenged you to test those assumptions and anchor those generalizations more firmly in the historical record. His work was thoughtful and provocative - and in helping us to appreciate that much of what we used to think of as defining the 1960s actually happened a decade early, right on the money!

It is a great shame for the professon that we won't get to read more of that feisty scholarship. But his passing is an even greater loss for all his family, friends and the greater University of Florida community. Our thoughts are with you all at this sad time.

October 7, 2013

I deeply regret not having spent more time with Alan. The occasions we met were almost entirely confined to the periods he spent in Princeton (where I then lived) as a fellow of the James Madison Program or on research related visits thereafter.
Alan was, of course, an usually gifted and imaginative scholar with an important career ahead of him, but what for me was most distinctive about him was his interest in ideas, pure and simple, rather than as things to be pursued basically for a professional purpose. You could talk with him at length about any historical or political subject without constraint or fatigue, and always with great reward. He was the kind of ideal intellectual companion that you were tempted to have internal dialogues with even when he wasn't present - just a wonderful person to listen to and bounce thoughts off. Alan was also immensely affable, though with a zestfully combative spirit as well, which gave both ease and spice to conversational encounters.
I had planned to have Alan lecture at Texas Tech in the coming spring semester. To hear Alan would have been quite a memorable experience for everyone in his audience and for me as well. I was looking forward to it immensely. How sad it won't happen.
My deep condolences to his mother, all his family, and his colleagues at the University of Florida. Your loss is very great and I share in it.

Steve Balch
Institute for the Study of
Western Civilization
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, Texas

October 6, 2013

Sorry for your loss, may the God of all comfort, bring comfort to your family. 2 cor:1:3

Patricia Ferree

October 5, 2013

Pearl, our prayers are with you and your family. We cannot imagine the grief of losing a son. Clearly he was a good son who made you very proud. If there is anything we can do, please call. Dan has been down with a virus all week and we are trying to keep him away from people to keep it confined. Pat and Dan Ferree

Helene R Newman

October 5, 2013

My son, Justin Newman, was a student of Dr. Petigny's for two semesters at UF. They became very good friends. Visiting both before and after every class discussing the world we live in. Alan and he had lunch together many, many times over those two semesters. Alan would send Justin off to get pizza, sandwiches or something from the Pita Pit.

Justin is devastated at the loss of his professor and mentor, but most of all his friend. Alan will be greatly missed. We are so sorry for your loss.

Peter Levin

October 4, 2013

I met Alan the same night in 1986 that I met Connie Mack. Later we both worked for him. I read the beginning chapters of Alan's dissertation and they were brilliant. We saw and talked regularly over the years. Alan had so much to give and his loss to his family and friends
deprives us of an original thinker and
wonderful human being. Peter J. Levin