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St. Olaf mourns death of English professor

By David Gonnerman '90
November 17, 2010

Professor of English and Associate Dean of Students Richard DuRocher, 55, died November 16 at his home in Northfield after a long battle with cancer. His wife, Professor of English Karen Cherewatuk, and family were present.

Beginning in 1986 DuRocher taught a variety of courses at St. Olaf about such topics as Renaissance women writers, “visionary” poets, and Shakespeare, and also taught for the Great Conversation program. A nationally recognized scholar of English poet John Milton, DuRocher’s numerous publications include the books Milton and Ovid and Milton Among the Romans: The Pedagogy and Influence of Milton’s Latin. In 2008 he organized a marathon 12-hour reading of Milton’s Paradise Lost — an event that was featured on the front page of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

In 2006 DuRocher was given the honor of delivering the college’s annual Mellby lecture. The next year he received a prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship for his sabbatical study of Milton.

DuRocher grew up on the Gulf Coast and received a Jesuit education before attending Loyola University, where he studied physics and electrical engineering before “converting” to English and classics. He earned master's and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell University, during which time he also was a professional chess player.

Benson Langehough Funeral Home will host the visitation Sunday, November 21, 3–7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place Monday, November 22, at 10 a.m. in the Church of St. Dominic in Northfield.

Read DuRocher's full obituary, and view the November 23 on-campus memorial service.

Contact David Gonnerman at 507-786-3315 or