John Dana Bernard
Nov. 26, 1935 - July 10, 2021
The Bernard family announces with deep sadness the death of John Dana Bernard on July 10 at his home in South Portland, Maine, at the age of 85. John and his beloved wife of nearly 60 years, Artis, retired to South Portland in 2001 and were also longtime summer residents of Cliff Island.
John was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1935 to Norman Bernard and Evelyn Dana. He earned a B.A. in English History and Literature and an M.A. in Teaching from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. During his distinguished career, he taught English Literature at Washington University in University City, Missouri, from 1967 to 1978, and was then a founding faculty member of the University of Houston Honors Program in Houston, Texas, from 1979 to 2005. He taught courses in literature and poetry and a popular interdisciplinary course about the Renaissance. He was well-loved by his students and fellow faculty and received several teaching awards. He authored Why Machiavelli Matters: A Guide to Citizenship in a Democracy (2009), and Ceremonies of Innocence: Pastoralism in the Poetry of Edmund Spenser (1989), and edited Vergil at 2000: Commemorative Essays on the Poet and His Influence (1986). In addition to his contributions as a teacher and scholar, John was also a devoted citizen, engaging in political activism both within the university as a member of the UH faculty senate, and without. When he and Artis retired to South Portland, they became deeply involved with the Maine Peoples Alliance, an organization dedicated to creating a world that works for all people. He also contributed time and resources to many other organizations working to protect the environment, eradicate racism and homophobia, and nourish democracy.
John was predeceased by his wife Artis and his sister Anne Thurber. He is survived by his children Jennifer, Rebecca, Yael, and Ben, and his grandchildren Sage, Indigo, Julian, Elwen, Oliver, and Leo.
John will be remembered and greatly missed for his brilliant mind, his sharp wit, his deep engagement with the world around him, and his lifelong love of art, music, and literature.
Gifts in his memory may be made to Maine Peoples Alliance or the Good Shepherd Food Bank. Memories and condolences, as well as requests to be notified of a future online memorial service, may be shared with the family at www.directcremationofmaine.com.