September 27, 2023

Professor Emeritus of History Roger J. Bourdon Passes Away

Campus Colleagues,

We’ve learned of the passing of Professor Emeritus of History Roger J. Bourdon, a longtime member of our history faculty. Dr. Bourdon, or “Dr. B.” as he was known to many, taught at Mary Washington for more than 30 years and was beloved for mentoring and his sense of humor, inspiring many students in their life journeys.

As Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History and American Studies Claudine Ferrell recalls, “He knew all of his students, he was always accessing new material with the help of his devoted student ‘readers,’ and he was always trying something that challenged students to think…. Roger did not let his impaired vision limit his teaching or the joy that he took from teaching and from studying the American past.”

His dedication to teaching and the format of his classes influenced many others, and Dr. Ferrell notes that he could see patterns and repeated problems, pointing them out with a mix of seriousness and humor. He was honest, kind, and caring and always put people first, and he enjoyed being known as a “curmudgeon.”

Roger’s obituary shares more of his story. At age 12, he lost most of his vision from a mishap in brain tumor surgery and became legally blind. He was educated at UCLA, received a Ph.D. in history, specializing in colonial and revolutionary history. After he retired in 2000, he remained a lifelong learner. He advocated for low-vision groups and organizations for the blind. Roger was active in elder studies, and he traveled extensively with his wife and grandkids. He lived with his wife at the University Retirement Community in Davis, California for his last decade. He died peacefully at age 85 on February 25, 2023, surrounded by family after a year of deteriorating health. A memorial service will be held at the University Retirement Community, 1515 Shasta Dr., Davis, CA 95616 on March 29, 2023, and more information is available in his obituary online.