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NIU mourns passing of Arra M. Garab

August 24, 2011
Arra M. Garab

Arra M. Garab

The Rev. Arra M. Garab, a retired NIU English professor and former chaplain of the university’s police department, died Monday, Aug. 22, in Rockford. He was 81.

Garab began teaching at NIU in 1966. Five years later he became a full professor. The classes he taught before his 1995 retirement included rhetoric, English composition, poetry and several classes that explored the classic works of Shakespeare and Chaucer.

He was also an ordained Episcopal priest and author or editor of five books and many scholarly articles. Often he joined his knowledge of writing with his enthusiasm for his faith and wrote about the two.

Garab’s other works explored the careers and relevance of such authors as William Butler Yeats and Hovhanness Toumanian, a 19th Century Armenian writer.His books included “Beyond Byzantium: The Last Phase of Yeats’ Career” and “Theology of Hope and Despair in English Literature.”

He served as assistant at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in DeKalb and St. Jude’s Church in Rochelle, as a regular lecturer in theology at Loyola University in Chicago and chaplain of the DeKalb Fire Department

Garab held degrees from Columbia University in New York City (Ph.D., 1962 and M.A., 1952) and from Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa. (B.A., 1951). He also studied for two years, from 1968-1970, at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston.

After joining NIU, the Woodcliff, N.J., native garnered several awards, including NIU’s prestigious Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching award in 1992.

Years earlier, in 1968, he was appointed to a 12-member committee that created the university’s master plan for the 1970s. Garab and his colleagues were also charged with defining NIU’s role in regional and statewide higher education communities.

Along with other interests, he was drawn to law enforcement and served as chaplain for the university’s police department during the 1970s. For years, he worked with officers and students during their difficult times.

His work encouraged him to write about law enforcement from the viewpoint of a theologian and private citizen.

A memorial service is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 206 Somonauk St. in Sycamore. A reception will follow in the church parish hall.