McQuown, 91, professor emeritus

By Charlotte Jameson

Norman A. McQuown, Distinguished Professor Emeritus in anthropology and linguistics, died on Wednesday, September 7, 2005 of natural causes at age 91.

Around campus and in the classroom, Dr. McQuown was described, by many of those who knew him, as a quiet and reserved man. McQuown’s early life was marked by hardship. His mother died when he was a boy and his father abandoned him to be raised by his grandmother and aunt in Peoria.

McQuown received a B.A. in German and a M.A. in German and Romance languages from the University of Illinois. He then went on to study at Yale University and eventually earned a doctorate in linguistics.

In the mid-1940s McQuown and his wife, Dolores, moved to Chicago, where he then joined the faculty of the University. While here, McQuown helped to found the language laboratories and archives. But what most interested McQuown was what lay outside of the University. He spent many years in the field studying the languages and cultures of the indigenous peoples of Mexico and Central America.

Dolores McQuown, Dr. McQuown’s wife of 63 years, believed that “[Norman] was lucky. He lived most of his life doing what he wanted to do. There are not a lot of people who can say that.”

Dr. McQuown is survived by his wife, his daughter Kathryn, and his grandson Reed.