May 30, 2023

Death of a retired faculty member

The following message is from the Office of the Provost.

David Cain, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Religion

David Cain, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Religion

David Cain, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Religion, passed away on Saturday, July 31, at the age of 79, after a lengthy illness.

Dr. Cain arrived at Mary Washington College in 1970 following undergraduate and graduate study at Princeton University, where he completed his A.B., M.A., and a Ph.D. in systematic theology. His educational journey also included stops at Northwestern (School of Liberal Arts), King’s College (religion-arts) and Yale Divinity School, where he completed a master of divinity degree. In addition to his teaching duties, he was an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ.

During more than four decades of service to Mary Washington, Dr. Cain was a popular professor who was well regarded by his students, particularly those who delighted in his legendary course, “Suffering and Evil.” His classes were playful, intense, adventurous, and filled with energy and enthusiasm.

In 1992, he was a recipient of the Grellet C. Simpson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the University’s most prestigious faculty award. In 1994, he was recognized by the Board of Visitors as Distinguished Professor of Religion for consistently performing with distinction and having provided long and faithful service to Mary Washington.

Dr. Cain was a formidable Kierkegaard scholar with an international reputation, having published many articles and manuscripts at the intersections of religion and theology. He served as president of the Søren Kierkegaard Society from 1997 to 1998. In addition to Kierkegaard studies, his special interests included Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Georges Bernanos, Elie Wiesel, the films of Federico Fellini and Giulietta Masina, religion and literature, theodicy, atonement, and dialogue among religions. In 1997, he published An Evocation of Kierkegaard and edited several volumes of the work of theologian and philosopher Arthur C. McGill.

During Dr. Cain’s celebrated career, he was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship and a Danforth Fellowship, and he also served as a visiting senior scholar at the Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre at Copenhagen University.

He was a founding member of the department of Classics, Philosophy, and Religion (CPR), incorporated in 1979. He designed the department’s logo in a confident calligraphy. His collegiality and passion for documenting the life if its faculty and students in photographs will be remembered affectionately. His friendships and rich conversation will long survive him.

Dr. Cain was an important part of the life of the UMW and surrounding communities; he loved theater and took part in many Mary Washington drama productions over the years, including a memorable turn as Feste in Twelfth Night. He also served for many years as an announcer for the Multicultural Fair and performed in follies to raise funds for Mary Washington Hospital.

Condolences to his surviving spouse, Marlyne, may be sent to her residence, 921 Spartan Drive, Spearfish, South Dakota 57783. Dr. Cain is also survived by his two daughters, Sarah Cain Naylor of Raleigh, N.C., and Kristin Cain Geary, of Salisbury Mills, N.Y.

Dr. Cain will be buried in St. Louis, Missouri, in a private service. An obituary in the local paper will appear soon, and plans to celebrate Dr. Cain’s memory in the UMW community will be communicated as soon as possible.