Dale Furkin, Instructor in English, Dies at 74

Dale Furkin

“Dale Furkin gave 100% percent of her time and heart to her students at CU,” Dr. Donna Hedgepath, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said.

“She always saw the potential in her students and set high expectations for them. “She was an exceptional educator in every setting.  Her years in public education and higher education leave a remarkable legacy.”

A lifetime educator, Furkin, instructor in English at Campbellsville University since 2009, died Saturday, May 29, 2021 at her home. She was 74.

She was a public educator over 40 years, an adjunct professor for St. Catharine’s College, Lindsey Wilson College and Western Kentucky University, and a full-time professor at Campbellsville University until the time of her passing. She had anticipated teaching summer classes in June 2021.

Furkin graduated from Campbellsville College in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree and later earned her Master’s degree and Rank I credentials from Western Kentucky University.

“I loved her attitude,” Janet Blakeman, human resources assistant, said. “She had a funny side of her personality and a very serious and professional side. I respected both. A person always knew where they stood with Ms. Furkin and for that I she had my total respect.”

Blakeman served on the university’s Faculty/Staff Recognition Service with Furkin and said, “She never said ‘no’ or ‘I’m too busy’ when asked to help with a task. My disappointment was noted to several she stepped away from that committee.”

Furkin was known to help students in all of their academic endeavors. “She was especially helpful to my husband as he completed his last master’s program,” Blakeman said. “She spent several hours proofing his writing and making needed corrections. We both appreciated her help so much.”

Dr. Sarah Stafford Sims, chair of the Humanities Division and professor of English, was Furkin’s supervisor and friend.

“Dale Furkin was a dedicated, hardworking professional who loved students, teaching and her alma mater,” Sims said.

“Preferring a vigorous schedule over relaxation, after her retirement from the public schools and even amid the struggles of her recent illness, Dale’s focus remained on students and on doing all she could to help others.

“The last time I talked with her, just two weeks before her passing, she energetically discussed plans for her June-term course and to accommodate a student’s scheduling needs. She was always upbeat, positive in outlook.”

Sims called Furkin “extremely efficient,” and said she returned huge stacks of student papers practically overnight.

“She completed required forms weeks in advance, cheerfully accepted any assignment and generously contributed to departmental projects and activities.

“Dale was an excellent teacher, able to explain in a way that even the weakest students grasped challenging concepts and grew as writers. She loved the time she spent as a student at Campbellsville College, and she shared that love by tirelessly giving of herself to generations of students in Taylor County and at Campbellsville University. She will be greatly missed.”

Furkin made Col. William Ritter feel welcome when he first came to Campbellsville University in January 2016. Their offices were across the hall from each other in Carter Hall.
“Right away she welcomed me with open arms, and looked at me as an individual and not an academic degree. We were peers, equals, not separated by pieces of paper indicating seniority or degree completed. She made me feel very welcomed, very quickly as a person, and took the time to get to know me. That acceptance grew quickly into a fond friendship,” Ritter said.

“Dale was a great sounding board for me on many academic topics, life topics and Taylor County happenings. She was just a joy to chat with, and we bonded over a lot of nothing. We bonded over just a love conversation which is a lost art in our younger generation so addicted to their handheld devices.

When the mass communication faculty moved to the new Mass Communication Center in January 2021, “Dale, despite all of her trials in life still reached out to me to make sure I was okay in my new setting,” Ritter said.

“She just cared for other people and did not feel the need to share her trials very often. I will miss that quality, as it is rare. If I could quote an old Army expression from my previous career, Dale was one that would ‘suck it up and drive on’ without a care about her own discomfort. As long as she knew her friends and her students were taking care of, she was happy. And that’s rare in his lifetime,” he said.

He last spoke to her May 7, and she was looking forward to teaching summer classes. “She was just happy I called and wanted to know ‘what was up’ in my life, and asked I keep in touch. I will miss her and our interactions,” he said.

Dr. Thomas Lyon, assistant professor of English, had his office across the hall from Furkin in Carter Hall, after arriving at CU in 2018.

“God blessed me with the company of Dale for the last three years,” he said. “Dale and I often had long chats about a variety of topics, both personal and professional.

“She was my go-to whenever I needed some expert advice or just a friendly chat. Dale will always have a special place in my memories and prayers. May God bless her.”

Mariah Akridge, assistant professor of international studies, had known Furkin her entire life, from the time she and her mother, Jackie Akridge, taught English at Taylor County High School to when Furkin came to CU.

Furkin served as vice principal at Taylor County High School from 1997 to 2008. “She ruled that school like only she could,” Akridge said.

A few students loved to push her limits, and three in particular did so, entered a three-on-three basketball tournament as “The Furkin 3.”

Akridge said, “I have never witnessed a group of students cheer so loudly as when those three ran onto the court nor heard a gymnasium erupt in such laughter and applause. Ms. Furkin loved it so much that she had a picture made with them, and that picture made it into the yearbook. The next year, there was an entire team dedicated to her called “The Furkinators.”  It is one of my outstanding memories of high school, and none of us present will ever forget it!”

“I am so very thankful that during this last semester she taught across the hall from me at CU. I loved seeing Ms. Furkin in her element, teaching all the intricacies of the English language. As a newer professor, I found her to be a comforting and reaffirming presence.

“She not only helped shape me, but she also was a mentor to my mother and supervised my fiancé’s student teaching as well. She impacted so many lives during her time with us, and I cannot express the sadness I feel in knowing she will no longer be a classroom away.

“She was a strict woman, an impeccable English teacher/professor, and she loved her students. Ms. Furkin had a wonderful sense of humor and appreciation for her students that became evident the longer they knew her.

She never fully comprehended the countless lives she touched.  She will be missed by so many, and I am so glad to have known her all these years.”

Matthew Taylor of Stanford, Ky., who graduated in 2020, had Furkin and learned grammar from her. “

“She was hard,” he said. “She pushed us. She wanted us to learn. When I took the class, it was a whole different world. I pushed through, and the way she taught helped me.”

 

A full obituary can be found at lrpetty.com.