Fort Lewis College English Professor Emeritus Lillian Butler Lang died of cancer Thursday, May 10, 2012, at her Durango home. She was 82.
Ms. Lang was born to James Taylor and Lucile (Sparkman) Butler on Nov. 24, 1929, at her grandmother’s home in Crystal River, Fla.
She didn’t start out to be a teacher, dropping out of college at 18 and not returning until 10 years later. During that decade, Ms. Lang worked in retail and newspaper advertising, owned an advertising agency and worked as a fashion and photo model.
She earned a bachelor’s degree at Portland State University in Oregon. Ms. Lang taught high school English and Spanish and served as librarian in high schools before starting to teach at the college level. She held a life California Secondary Teaching Credential for English, Spanish, library science and psychology.
Ms. Lang earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
In 1973, she joined the faculty at Fort Lewis College and was named the recipient of the Alice Admire Outstanding Teaching Award in 1979. Professor Lang retired in 1995 from FLC after 21 years of teaching, and her contributions both in and out of the classroom helped shape the college into what it is today, her former student and friend David Kasdan said. Her courses ranged from “How to Succeed in College” to classes on C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and the literature of the occult.
While at FLC, Ms. Lang served on numerous academic committees and was chairwoman of the Writing Skills Committee. Ms. Lang was also a member of numerous professional organizations and helped establish a chapter of the English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta, on campus.
She was particularly proud of her participation in the Durango School District 9-R Independent Study Program, Kasdan said.
In the early 1990s, she presented a paper on “England’s First Vampire” at the International Conference for the Fantastic and the Arts, arguing that the first vampire was Grendel, the monster in Beouwulf, which caused a sensation, Kasdan said.
“Lillian Lang is affectionately remembered as a wild woman with flaming shoulder-length red hair and thick glasses, who quoted Chaucer, Dickinson, Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan and was an inspiration of a high caliber,” Kasdan said.
Ms. Lang was preceded in death by her daughter Stephanie Karin Lang Huffman in 2006.
She is survived by her sister Helen Jeanne Butler Morando, one grandson, and a nephew and a niece.
Burial will take place in her family’s crypt at Riverview Cemetery in Portland, Ore. No services are planned at this time.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to Annie’s Orphans and Alternative Horizons.