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In Remembrance: Dr. A. Fay Vaughn-Cooke

October 27, 2010

Dr. Fay Vaughn-Cooke

We at Word. mourn the loss of one of the very best in her field, Dr. Fay Vaughn-Cooke.

According to the Washington Post, Dr. (Anna) Fay Vaughn-Cooke died peacefully on Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at Washington Home Hospice.

Dr. Vaughn-Cooke received her Ph.D. in linguistics from Georgetown University in 1976. She became a prolific scholar in the field of linguistics, with seminal studies on language acquisition of African-American children. She was an influential contributor to the national debate on the language diversity of African Americans.As noted by John and Angela Rickford,

She was meticulous, insightful, and… ‘unflinching.’

Her critique of the “divergence” controversy–published in American Speech in 1987–was incisive, drawing its data in part from her detailed dissertation study of language change among three generations of African Americans in Mississippi. Although Fay’s loss to her family and friends is of course much deeper and cannot in any sense be compared, the field of Linguistics and African American language study has lost a titan in Fay, and we will all miss her so much.
The Washington Post notes that Dr. Vaughn-Cooke served as Associate Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research at Florida A&M University. She was Vice-President for Academic Affairs at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. She was a professor and chair in the department of Language and Communication Disorders at the University of the District of Columbia from 1973-1997. She began her career as a linguist at Howard University. She was a Fulbright Scholar and received numerous national awards for her scholarly contributions and academic leadership. She was a board member of the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC.
She is survived by her loving husband, Denys Vaughn-Cooke; her children, Dr. Anika Vaughn-Cooke (Isaac Ewell) and Hamilton Vaughn-Cooke; and her grandsons, Che’ and Marley Ewell. She will be mourned by her brothers and sisters and their spouses, Joseph Boyd (Charlotte), Sandra Boyd, Mona Boyd (Kuma Kumahia), Monroe Boyd (Linda), Brenda Barnes (Nathaniel) and a wide circle of devoted extended family, friends and colleagues.
In the weeks to come, we will speak more of her contributions to the study of African American English.
RIP Dr. Fay Vaughn-Cooke.
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