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News & Press: In Memoriam

Gary Craig Thomas

Wednesday, January 15, 2020   (0 Comments)

Gary Craig Thomas

Age 74, of St Paul, Gary Craig Thomas died peacefully in his sleep on August 29, 2019.

Gary graduated in Music from UCLA (1966), and gained his PhD from Harvard in Germanic Languages and Literatures (1971). He spent his career at the University of Minnesota, where he held a professorship in the Humanities Program and Department of Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature from 1971 until retiring in 2014. An extraordinarily talented, award-winning teacher, Gary was also a generous adviser and a skilled administrator. He was at the national forefront of research on cultural issues surrounding sexuality, LGBT studies especially, and the history and theory of comedy. His musical writing ranged from film music, to the German Baroque and the early German Lied (Philipp von Zesen’s madrigals), and a path-breaking essay on Handel and the question of sexual identity: “Was George Frideric Handel Gay? – On Closet Questions and Cultural Politics,” appearing in the volume he co-edited with Philip Brett and Elizabeth Wood, Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology (1993), one of the first collections of writings on music developing from Queer theory.

Gary was an outstanding musician on both piano and organ and an accomplished student of languages: fluent in Latin, German, and French. He was a dedicated master gardener, and a killer poker player. Not least, Gary was a superb chef and baker, his pies winning several awards at the Minnesota State Fair. He was blessed with a boundless sense of humor, joy, and curiosity and he held a deep sense of caring for his wide circle of friends.