Felix Okeke-Ezigbo, Professor of English and Affiliated Professor of African and Afro-American studies at the University of Rhode Island, died in Providence on June 25, 2012. He was 67. Felix did his undergraduate work in English, at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and earned his Ph.D. in English at the State University of New York, Buffalo. He was an avid reader, a lover of literature and an orator. He was also a very beloved teacher and a prolific scholar that was greatly admired by his students and respected by his academic peers. Felix was an exceptionally gifted and witty writer and will be fondly remembered for his love of the English vocabulary, his ability to play with words, the passion and power behind his articles, essays and publications, and his continuous quest for knowledge. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. Felix is survived by his wife, their four children, and two grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on Friday June 29th at 7:000pm in The Butterfield Chapel 500 Pontiac Avenue Cranston.
**Obituary from the English Department at the University of Rhode Island.....
The English Department and the entire URI community mourn the passing of Dr. Felix Emeka Okeke-Ezigbo. Born in Nigeria, Felix earned a B.A. in English at the University of Nigeria in 1972; he was also awarded the distinction magna cum laude. After a brief stint at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he moved to upstate New York and received his Ph.D. in English from SUNY, Buffalo in 1979. He began his teaching career as a Lecturer at the University of Benin, Nigeria and received several promotions. He attained the rank of Associate Professor, served as Director of General Studies, and was finally made Chair of the English Department in 1990. He then held an appointment as Visiting Professor of African and African American Literature at the University of Arizona in Tempe. From there, he came in 1994 to URI where he had been appointed Associate Professor. He was promoted to Full Professor the following year and had served ever since with distinction.
At URI, Professor Okeke-Ezigbo was a very popular professor and his classes were widely sought out. He regularly taught courses on African and African American literature, as well as classes on the short story, the Bible as Literature, and the Epic. Those in Swan Hall regularly saw a line of students eager to continue discussions with him outside of class. In addition, Felix was a widely published—and respected—scholar. His articles appeared in journals such as Studies in Modern Fiction, Comparative Literature Studies, IFE Studies in African Literature and the Arts, Ariel: A Review of International English Literature, The College Language Association Journal, The Journal of Popular Culture, Critique, Obsidan: Black Literature in Review, The Explicator, Notes on Contemporary Literature, and The Journal of African Studies, as well as many others. He was respected, admired, and beloved by his colleagues and students alike.
Alicia Hanson - 06/28/2012
To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.
- Thomas Campbell
Alicia, David, David and Jillian - 06/28/2012
To Nnenna and your beautiful family,
We are sadden by the loss of your dad. When I met him, I could tell he was a gentle soul. Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal”. May the memories you have comfort you during this time but be treasures in your heart for a lifetime.
DOROTHY SENA KASHK - 06/28/2012
MY DEEPEST AND WARMEST SYMPATHY TO FELIX EZIGBO FAMILY.I DID NOT KNOW FELIZ PERSONELY BUT HAVE HEARD ABOUT HIM FORM OTHERS AND HOW THEY PRAISE HIM.
MAY HE REST IN PEACE.
Naomi Mandel - 06/28/2012
I was Felix's colleage in English at the University of Rhode Island. I remember when Felix served as a judge in our Department essay
contest and wrote thoughtful and beautifully-crafted statements in
support of each of the winning essays. I will miss his hearthy
greetings, his infectious smile, and his quirky and evocative prose.
Ruby and Chizomam Opara - 06/28/2012
Thank you for your courtesy, courage and humuilty
and for our friends, your cherished family.
Though we are thankful that your pain has ceased,
still, we pray that our hearts may be at ease;
and raise to the Lord God this gift He gave, asking that He grant you His wondrous gift of Peace. Amen.
Rest well dear Prof. Rest well.
Holly - 06/28/2012
Rest in peace, Professor. You will truly be missed by your students. Thank you for all you have taught us.
Marangely Torres - 06/28/2012
I was lucky and blessed enough to have met u last semester. As the days of reading short story's went on I began to admire you more and more. You are the only professor who emphasized the importance of not just and education but of having and attaining knowledge of current and past events. You said that there is nothing wrong with being ignorant because all that meant was that we didn't know but make an effort everyday to learn everything. Although I never told you how you impacted me you really did impact me for now I read the news everyday and am interested in learning as much as I can because as u said KNOWLEDGE IS KEY!!!
Rest in peace as you will always be remembered.
Imeh Ebong - 06/28/2012
I will always cherish the great memories of working with you at URI. What an honorable and brilliant soul! You will be missed. Rest in peace, Prof.
Oliver - 06/28/2012
Rest in peace professor. Honestly one of the smartest professors I ever had. Prayers and blessings to the entire okeke-ezigbo family
Lee Zeppetelle - 06/28/2012
Professor Okeke-Ezigbo will not be forgotten. He generously offered his unique, intelligent, and colorful perspective to his students. I was one of them, and will remember him with fondness. My deepest sympathy goes out to his family. Rest in Peace, Professor.
CYNTHIA HAMILTON - 06/28/2012
DEAR FRIEND, YOU WILL BE MISSED.
Sandy Hicks - 06/29/2012
Students often talked to me about Professor Okeke-Ezigbo's classes and he loved to chat with them about what they were learning. He was a great role model for them and will be greatly missed.
Theo Kontos - 06/29/2012
Thank you for both the great courses I was lucky to be able to take and helping me prepare for grad school. You will certainly be missed and fondly remembered by your students. Rest in peace Professor Okeke-Ezigbo.
Sandra Ginsberg - 06/30/2012
I will always remember the great experience of his class at the Providence Campus. His skill as a teacher was magnificent. The gift of his presence in our classroom, his love for the school and its students, and his generosity as a teacher and friend made him somebody very, very special. I am deeply saddened to lose such a friend, and I will always cherish his memory. My sincere condolences to his family, and all those who knew and loved him.
The Dougal Family - 06/30/2012
His classes were like non-other, his smile a true blessing from above and his teachings were not the norm..but what he did he did with love. A leader, a mentor and yes a friend...Dr. Okeke you will be missed but remembered always...
How very sorry we to hear of our professor's passing. Our thoughts and prayers, and we pray those of so many others who knew him, are with you at this sad and difficult time.
He was blessed with so many wonderful experiences and a long and productive life. You must feel blessed as well to have had him a part of your life for so long and cared and loved him as you did. Remember God will bless you for all you did for him.
Our faith tells us that God is showering his blessings on you at this very moment as well. The Bible says "Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted." We pray that you will find peace and comfort in these words and that God will give you the strength and courage to go on.
God Bless your family.
Yours In Faith.
The Dougal Family (Augusto, Marta, Josefa and Monica-Vadis)
Erin Baldt - 06/30/2012
I too am saddened by the the Professor's passing. Though I only knew him for a short time - his memory will be with me a very long time . What a wonderful human being...
Melissa - 06/30/2012
I'll always remember that one of the papers I worked the hardest on was for his class. He was a wonderful professor and person. My condolences to his family, friends, and fellow students.
Sharon L. Isom - 07/03/2012
My condolences to his family, friends and his students. He taught me the true meaning of education. God Bless!
David L. Chase - 07/08/2012
When discussing my college courses from 96 and 97, I always referred to Felix as "my favorite professor. I am sorry to here of his passing. I loved his intellect, humor and style of teaching. Onus upon the student, listening, and concentration. His constant curiousity about this country's culture was great to interact with and his humor was wonderful. I'm glad to have had him in my life. God bless his family. I remember him well.
Akekpe Ebito - 07/29/2012
Prof, I recall with fondness the awe with which we listened to you distill wisdom from your fount of knowledge. Words flowed so effortlessly from your lips. You were witty and informed. More than 20 years after i can't forget your hearty laughter and trademark immaculate white shirts. As a member of UNIBEN English graduating class of 1991, I miss you. May your soul rest in peace and may God comfort your family.
Tyna Braxton 8/31/2012 - 08/24/2012
I was very sad to learn of Professor Felix Okeke-Ozigbo's passing. He was a great teacher who brought global issues into play with teaching us, his students, African American History along with the importance of knowing our english vocabulary and how to use it.
Professor always spoke of the gift of education and how we should not waste the opportunity being given.
I will miss Professor Felix Okeke-Ozigbo very much, but I know that his spirit will live on in the corridors, classrooms and walkways of URI, and more importantly, in the hearts and minds of his students.
May his family find comfort in knowing how much he meant to us his students and that he shall not soon be forgotten.
God Bless the Okeke-Ozigbo family and give them comfort in their time of loss.
Ken & Ego Ojukwu. - 09/19/2012
TRIBUTE TO A BRILLIANT COUSIN – FELIX
The news of your sickness came to those who know you well as a big surprise. It came as a surprise because you were a very unassuming person. You do not eat everything you come across for the sake of food. You were very mindful of your environment. You were always careful and very selective in everything that you did. Yet illness traced you and did the worst damage.
Your passion for brilliance and success in everything and in particular academics cannot be measured. No wonder, you were a SUPER PROFESSOR in a foreign land, United States of America, where merit goes to only those who deserve it.
I came to know about your ill-health during a visit to Birmingham, England last year, 2011. I visited a family with my wife in company of our host. We were meeting the husband for the first time. When we introduced ourselves as indigenes of Alor, he told us about an Alor man who was his master in IGWE-BU-IKE GRAMMAR SCHOOL, Awka. This master bought him a novel every other week to read. His master would ensure that he summarised the story each time. His regret was that he lost contact with his master for a very long time, then. We asked to know the name of this his master, to know if he is someone familiar to us. When he mentioned the name, Felix Okeke-Ezigbo, my wife quickly told him that he was my cousin. He asked for Felix’s telephone number which we gave him. There and then, he put a call through to Felix. A female voice picked. She introduced herself as Ifeoma, his wife. She told him that Felix was indisposed and could not speak with him at that time. I immediately took over the phone and Ifeoma informed me of Felix’s ill-health. This man broke down crying like a baby, asking whether it was so bad that, Felix could not talk to him. THE MAN BROKE DOWN CRYING LIKE A BABY because of value of Felix to him.
Felix, you were so humble that no body knew your worth unless he or she was told. You were a Super Professor of many years yet you were so simple. We, Nigerians need to learn from you.
Felix, you were a true Nationalist. Since you left for the United States of America, you had always visited Nigeria at least, twice a year. You strongly believed that there is nowhere better than home. You spoke and acted it. That is the Felix that I know.
WE WILL MISS YOU
BUT WE SHALL ALWAYS REMEMBER YOU.
REST IN PERFECT PEACE TILL WE MEET AT THE LORD’S PARADISE.
Ken & Ego Ojukwu.
Adebiyi Aboderin - 04/24/2014
I don't know why thoughts of you came to my mind a few seconds ago, only to find out you said goodbye quite a while ago. You were an exceptionally generous teacher in every way. Your recommendation letters when we were looking for employment would remain my template for future proteges. I even stayed in your house for a few days after I had graduated . You exhuded love to every one of your students although the horrors of the civil war could have mangled your emotions. You were a Nigerian in the best possible meaning.
You were more than my lecturer; I was your protege. You will be so sorely missed dear Felix.
Mercy Muemuifo - 05/30/2014
So saddened to learn of you passing. Almost three decades since you taught me in UNIBEN, yet the memory of your whimsical smile, your brilliance in the english language and the awe with which we your students looked up to you, remain impinged on my mind. Not surprised you went on to become who you were. God keep your family.
Tosan Tonwe - 05/25/2015
Eloquent speaker, epitome of intelligence and a great lecturer. American literature was interesting and you made me confident in my studies. I was in your class 25 years ago. You would be widely remembered by your students. May your soul rest in perfect peace.
Stacy Asuncion McBride - 07/10/2015
So sad to hear the news so many years later. I was looking at some old files and I had quoted something Prof. Okeke said to me about stories. And I can remember so vividly my time with him doing an independent study over 20 years ago. The smile, the advice, and the kindness stays with me to this day and is one of the most influential people in my life. May he rest and look over all he touched. Prof. Okeke will be so missed.
Patrick Oguejiofor - 08/17/2015
Felix Emeka Okeke-Ezigbo was an outstanding literary critic and a lover of works by the late beloved poet Christopher Okigbo. May his sweet soul rest in peace.