DePauw Mourns the Passing of Longtime Spanish Prof. Kent Mecum

DePauw Mourns the Passing of Longtime Spanish Prof. Kent Mecum

November 14, 2017

Kent Mecum, professor emeritus of Romance languages (Spanish) at DePauw University and a member of the faculty for almost a quarter century, died Wednesday, November 8, at St. Vincent Hospice in Indianapolis after a rapid decline in health.  He was 87 years old. (at right: 1992 image from the DePauw University Archives)

Kent Bruce Mecum was born in Chicago on June 22, 1930. Growing up in Indianapolis during the Great Depression, he sold newspapers at age six and slept on a screened-in back porch so that his family could rent his bedroom out to boarders. He traveled to New York by himself at the age of 10 after winning a trip from selling magazines and worked his way through college selling shoes.

Mecum was an Eagle Scout, a Sea Scout, a member of the Order of Hi-Bark in Firecrafters, and later Scout Leader of Troop 43 at Gobin Memorial UMC in Greencastle.

A graduate of  Butler University, Mecum served in Army counterintelligence in the Panama Canal zone, where he met and married his wife, the former Maria de los Angeles.  He worked for Indiana Bell as a traffic engineer before returning to school at Indiana University, where he received his master's and doctoral degrees and was the recipient of a Fulbright award.

The Mecums came to DePauw in 1968, where Kent was a professor of romance languages and Maria taught medical Spanish. Determined to increase intercultural understanding and a love of Spanish., Dr. Mecum led DePauw students on Winter Term Spanish immersion programs to Mexico for more than 20 years.  He was honored with by Argentina's John F. Kennedy University for fostering student exchanges. (at left: Dr. Mecum from the 1969 Mirage yearbook)

Mecum's book Vicente Rocafuerte, el procer andante, a Spanish version of his doctoral dissertation "The Practical Idealism of Vicente Rocafuerte" and published in 1976, was the official gift of the United States to Latin America during the bicentennial.

The professor served as president of the Midwest Association of Latin American Studies (MALAS), and addressed the the 11th Latin American Congress of Sociology in Costa Rica in 1974. He retired from teaching in 1992 to care for his wife, Maria, who preceded him in death.

Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19, in the Gothic Chapel at Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis. Interment will follow. The family will receive friends from 2 p.m. until time of service at the funeral on Sunday.

An online obituary is available here.

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