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Professor emeritus Donald Tyree passes away
Author: Victor C. Dahl
Posted: February 20, 2014

Emeritus Professor Donald Tyree  May 23, 1938 – January 25, 2014

Donald Tyree, professor emeritus of English, died January 25, 2014, from pancreatitis complications. Friends and family members honored him at a memorial service at Riverview Cemetery on January 31, 2014.

Dr. Tyree joined the English Department in 1970. (He is pictured here from 1977.) He taught highly popular Victorian Literature courses and was a pioneer in offering innovative classes dealing with Native American studies. He successfully introduced the use of diagrams and graphics to support problematic concepts embodied in the material content of literature coursework dealing with “folklore, legend and myth.” 

Dr. Tyree's heavy undergraduate and graduate student advising workload and campus-wide multicultural outreach brought Native American students to Portland State. In 1994-95 he participated as a volunteer in “Project Connect,” a Student Activities program that provided mentoring and advising for underrepresented minority students. 

He was involved in the campus Native American Student and Community Center, and to that end he regularly made outreach presentations informing public schools and metropolitan area organizations about its services and functions. He assisted various tri-county Native American organizations and served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Portland Urban Indian Council and the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission. 

Dr. Tyree served on several significant campus-wide faculty governance and search committees, including the Minority Affairs Council, Affirmative Action, and Human Subjects Research Review. His departmental service, included, but was not limited to, Library, Curriculum, Promotion and Tenure and Graduate Committees. Concurrently, he actively participated in and contributed scholarly findings to several professional organizations, including the American Indian Culture and Research Journal. He chaired two departmental support groups, the “Friends of English” and the “Kellogg Committee.”

Dr. Tyree earned a bachelor's degree in English from Carson-Newman College, Franklin, TN, (1960), and with scholarship assistance he pursued graduate studies in religion, theology, and literary criticism at the University of Chicago Divinity School and Duke University (1960-1963). Subsequently he completed a master's (1964) and doctoral (1980) degrees in English at the University of Chicago, and earned a Certificate in Victorian Literature (1966) at the University of London. Prior to joining the PSU faculty in 1970, he had served as a research assistant (1965-66) at the University of Chicago and as editorial associate and instructor in English (1967-1970) at Northwestern University.

In 1979 at Portland State, Dr. Tyree advanced to associate professor and upon retirement in 2003 was designated emeritus professor. In retirement he continued his many contributions to advancing our institutional mission to serve the metropolitan community. For these activities we owe Dr. Tyree our everlasting gratitude.

Dr. Tyree’s wife, Teresa (“Tisa”), died at age 45 in 1998. To his survivors: children, James, Joshua, and David, as well as four grandchildren, and his sister, Judy, we extend our heartfelt sympathy for their loss. All who knew him would concur with a colleague who remembers “him as a very kind man, a true gentleman and scholar.”

An obituary and guestbook appeared in the Oregonian, January 28, 2013. His family suggests that donations honoring his memory be made to: “Native American Honor Day,” c/o Dean Azule, Diversity and Multicultural Student Services, PSU, 710 SW Jackson Street, Portland OR 97201.

— Written by Emeritus Professor of History Victor C. Dahl, with assistance from Professor Hildy Miller, English Department chair, February 18, 2014.