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Much-loved professor dies

Colleagues and friends remember Trevor Purcell as a man who could brighten any day with his smile. He was peaceful and giving, they said, a well-respected teacher and a wonderful conversationalist.

Purcell, an associate professor and chair of the department of Africana studies, died Monday. After 17 years at USF, he will leave a void that will be hard to fill, colleagues said.

“Trevor was loved and respected by everyone,” Provost Renu Khator said in an e-mail. “His smile could steal any heart, his humility could win any ego and his optimism could prevail over any challenge. There is no department or unit on campus that has not been touched by Trevor in one way or another.”

Associate provost Kofi Glover said he will miss the conversations he shared with Purcell on a regular basis. They would discuss academia, politics and anything else that came to mind, he said.

“I will miss those conversations the most,” Glover said.

Administrative Assistant Theresa Singletary said she had known Purcell on a purely professional level for nearly as long as she had worked at USF. He always had kind words for her and always seemed peaceful, she said.

Then a few years ago, while living in Lakeland with her husband, a fire decimated her house.

“Purcell was the first person to call me,” she said. “He asked me, ‘What do you need? Do you need food? Do you need a place to stay? Do you need money?’ He was willing to help in any way.”

It is in this way that she will remember him.

“He was always generous, always smiling and always thinking of someone else,” she said. “When you ran into him he would always brighten your day.”

A memorial service has not yet been scheduled. Counseling is available for faculty and students who

knew Purcell.