Friday, October 31, 2008

In Memoriam:

Campbell Tatham, 68, died at his home in the Town of Cedarburg, surrounded by family on October 28th, after a courageous battle with brain cancer.

Cam graduated from The Hotchkiss School, Amherst College, NYU and UW Madison. He was a professor at UW-Milwaukee for over 35 years, was a pivotal mentor to many graduate students. He served as Associate Chair of the English Department for 15 years, and as an active UWM advocate in many other capacities, perhaps most visibly affecting the curriculum at the department, college and campus level. He continued to teach, the thing he loved best, as an emeritus even after becoming ill.

Cam was also a noted critic, primarily in post-modern fiction, and was published in numerous journals over a span of many years.

While he was most prominently an academic, Cam's other passions helped define him. He was the best of all listeners, loved his dogs, horses, chickens and loved hiking and riding in the forest. He was knowledgeable about birds and snakes and other wildlife. He was an avid jazz and blues aficionado, deejaying a blues show on WUWM many years ago. He was possessed of a gentle spirit and integrity in everything he did and his sense of humor prevailed. Cam was always interested in and excited about the online world as it materialized, used it extensively in his teaching and thus this obituary seems totally appropriate. He would have loved it.

He is survived by his devoted wife of 28 years, Lynn, their children Benjamin and Jocelynn as well as beloved children Greg (Inna), Anne (John Mathie), Rebecca (Michael Curtes), Holly (Evan Pavlovic), Jessica (Dave LeClair) and 5 grandchildren (Dylan, Jude, Rhone, Olivia, and Alden). He is also survived by his brother Charles Tatham III (Sandy).

The family is holding an open house pot-luck for those who wish to remember him at their country home on Saturday, November 8th starting at noon. Emails to for details.

We also wish to thank those precious friends and family who have been so supportive and loving throughout this long ordeal.

(Matt Roberson's blog post)


  1. I have known Cam for just about 18 years now. I became his friend through Lynn. Lynn and I met in grad school. I was always intrigued with Cam and his mysterious humble nature. I never really knew Cam in an academic way although we certainly had many interesting and progressive conversations. Mostly I remember Cam walking calmly and deliberately on paths to chicken coops, horse barns, dog kennels and gardens, tending to the domestic chores which were dictated by having many animals. I remember his relationship to his children and wife which he handled in the same calm deliberate and loving way. I have felt very privileged to be part of the Tatham circle of friends for so long. My deep sadness and longing at Cam's passing can only be an opportunity to expand within myself his innate love of life and learning and critical thinking. Thanks Cam for being my friend. My love goes with you.

    Linda Skoug

  2. Cam was my father. In the last few years, he became for me a person, chartered with quiet complexities; and he became a friend. I will miss his generosity, his humor, and especially the dialogue of his company. Thank you Lynn for helping these endure.


  3. Winston's remarks:

    It is with much sadness and great delight that I learn of Cam Tatham
    having given up his mortal biological body. Over my years at this
    institution, Cam is one of the most decent persons I ever have met.
    (Note that I say "is," for Cam lives on in the eternity of the timeless
    present.) As I have aged, I have come to learn that decency sums all of
    the virtues, and that there is no virtue greater than decency. In West
    African cosmology, when one who has led a life grounded in decency dies,
    that individual assumes the role of an "ancestor," and in his/her
    ancestorship lives on eternally. It is in this context that I take
    delight in Cam having assumed his ancestorship.

    For those whose lives are marked by indecency, when they die they are
    truly dead, and simply disappear into nothingness eternally.

    His ancestorship notwithstanding, I am sad that Cam no longer uses
    his mortal biological body. While he was on this campus, he did so many,
    many good deeds. I served on a number of committees with him, and always
    found him to be well-prepared, thoughtful, insightful, generous in spirit,
    an effective leader, and always a good colleague. Over the years, I have
    heard many members of the faculty grumble about serving on committees. At
    the College of Letters and Science's dinner for retiring faculty a few
    years ago, I recall Cam saying in regard to his own retirement that he
    would miss serving on committees, for he found that service to be one of
    the most satisfying rewarding parts of his academic carer, and he never
    could quite understand why faculty members grumbled about committee
    service. This is the Cam Tatham whom I know, and always will admire. May
    his family, friends, and colleagues, also delight in his ancestorship.
    W. Van Horne