Dr. Louis Dollarhide, Oxford, MS

 

 

Dollarhide Family Pictures

Dr. Louis Dollarhide
1918 - 2004


Dr. Dollarhide with author Eudora Welty


University of Mississippi Professor Emeritus Dr. Louis Dollarhide reflects on 40 years of teaching *

From 1955 to 1976, Dr. Louis Dollarhide wrote more than 1,000 reviews and articles for The Clarion Ledger Mississippi's largest newspaper.

Taking breaths from his job as a full-time professor, which was his career for 40 years, Dollarhide wrote a column once a week to critique and comment on the artists and performances of the day from the novels of Eudora Welty ("So far as I know Eudora Welty has never written a careless page or a story unworthy of her remarkable talent," Dollarhide wrote in a 1955 review of The Bride of Innisfallen) to stage productions of William Shakespeare ("The Taming of the Shrew, with its brawling warm-blooded hero and heroine, has been good theater for almost four hundred years," he wrote in a 1972 review).

A graduate of Harvard and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he received his MA and PhD, respectively, Dollarhide published a collection of about 250 of his newspaper columns in 1981. The title Dollarhide chose for this body of his work reflects his own career as a critic; but in a larger sense, it reveals the major currents that have directed the flow of his life. The book is called Of Art and Artists.

Now in his 80s and retired, Dollarhide spends most of his time resting at home, which is filled with the eclectic collections of a man who has treasured art for a lifetime. The walls are covered with paintings, many done by local artists. In the front room are several early works by GlennRay Tutor ("I taught him Shakespeare," Dollarhide said of Tutor, who is his friend), as well as works by Jere Allen and William Dunlap. In a front corner of the living room of his home near the Oxford Square is a slightly cluttered stack of books, albums and CD cases, most of which contain classical music. Dollarhide listens to Handel and Tchaikovsky, and "I love opera' " he said.

Although he has help keeping his home organized, Dollarhide can't seem to keep this "Art and Artists" corner tidy.

"My housekeeper says to me, what can we do with all this stuff?" Dollarhide laughed. "I said, you can do whatever you want with it, but I'll just drag it back out here."

A professor emeritus of the University of Mississippi's English Department, Dollarhide taught at "Ole Miss" for 20 years after moving to Oxford from Jackson, where he taught at Mississippi College for 20 years. From courses on Milton to seminars on Eudora Welty and Tennessee Williams, Dollarhide lectured to thousands of university students during his 40 years in the classroom.

Born in Oklahoma, Dollarhide knew early in his life he would pursue a career in teaching.

"In junior high, I had a very fine eighth-grade teacher, and a very fine ninthgrade teacher," Dollarhide remembered. "She was the one. She even took me aside and talked to me about teaching English.

"My best teachers in high school were English teachers. They're the ones that gave me the most," Dollarhide said. "I cared so much for them. I wanted to be in the field they were in."

After getting a BA in English from Mississippi College, Dollarhide was drafted during World War II, and he spent nine months in the Air Force, repairing airplanes overseas. He did not care much for the military. And the military didn't insist that he make it a career.

"They called me in and said, 'What was your major?' I said, 'My major is in English; my minor is in French.' They said, 'We don't need him for anything. Send him home."'

Graduate studies took Dollarhide to Harvard, where he studied Milton under Douglas Busch. A heavy wool coat, which Dollarhide wore to supper recently on a cold November night, is a tangible reminder of his years on the East Coast.

"This is my Harvard coat," Dollarhide said. "I knew it was going to be colder out there than I was used to, so I bought this coat. It was too cold out there for this Southern boy."

In Jackson, where he moved after receiving his PhD, Dollarhide became immersed in the artistic community. He became acquainted with Eudora Welty and corresponded with writers such as Carson McCullers and Flannery O'Connor. Dollarhide's letters recently were donated to the J.D. Williams Library Special Collections.

Continuing to recover from health problems that sent him to the hospital for several weeks three years ago, Dollarhide goes out to restaurants and to movies with friends occasionally. He stopped writing two years ago, after keeping a diary for more than half a century, but he continues to read. He's now paging through Lyle Leberich's Tom, a biography of Tennessee Williams.

Video tapes are another passion. His collection of movies includes some classics: Sense and Sensibility, for example, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma. Then there is a grab bag of less sophisticated dramas, such as Die Hard and Lethal Weapon.

Currently, Emma is his favorite movie to watch at home.

"Pride and Prejudice has always been one of my favorite novels," Dollarhide said. "But Emma is delicious. I've looked at it and looked at it and looked at it. It's upper-class, British, early 19th century. They didn't give Jane Austin much credit for it, but you can hear her in every speech."

* Editor's note:  This article from the following web site:  http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/english/news/newsletter/1997fall/dollarhide.html

Dr. Dollarhide died on the morning of Friday, January 16, 2004.


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