Geoffrey Chaucer and King Arthur were part of the world of Sally Pitts Kennedy Slocum.
So were thousands of English students over 30 years of teaching at the University of Akron, as well as countless people on the Internet with whom she shared a common illness: multiple sclerosis.
Ms. Slocum, 72, died Monday of cancer.
She retired as an associate professor of English in 1996 after three decades of teaching. Three years later, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
For many years, she hosted a chat room at www.msworld.org and communicated with others dealing with multiple sclerosis around the world.
A native of Spartanburg, S.C., Ms. Slocum received her undergraduate degree from Columbia College in South Carolina and her master’s and doctorate degrees in English literature from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She was an expert in Chaucer and King Arthur.
In a 2007 Beacon Journal interview, she spoke of what she had learned about life from dealing with multiple sclerosis.
“Chaucer’s Wife of Bath teaches us much when she tells us to do the best we can with what we have,” Ms. Slocum said. “I try to do that — to adjust to new circumstances, to adapt to new limitations, to try hard, to keep going, to hope, always to hope.”
In a 1989 Beacon Journal story, Ms. Slocum, said the movies Alien, The Natural and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre were all contemporary versions of the King Arthur story.
“I see King Arthur as revealing societal values over a long period of time,” she said. “Sometimes Arthur is strong and can kill the giant.”
Of Chaucer, she said, “he was so good. He was making up language as he went along. He wrote so well. Whatever it is that you want to know about — philosophy, human behavior, religion, history, love and of course, God — it is all there. ... Chaucer has local color, stream of consciousness, relationships and troubles between men and women and parents and children.”
In 2011, UA graduate Dennis Gartman established a scholarship in Ms. Slocum’s name.
“Sally made me focus on thinking,” Gartman, a nationally known financial trader and publisher of The Gartman Letter, said at the time.
Ms. Slocum is survived by her husband, Tom, of Akron; their son, Andrew Slocum, and his wife, Samantha, and their son, Joseph, of Ann Arbor, Mich.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Feb. 17 at Billow Fairlawn Chapel, 85 N. Miller Road, Fairlawn.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.