It is with great sadness that we write to share the news that yesterday, May 6, Shona Kelly Wray, our medievalist colleague in the Department of History at UMKC and longtime WGS faculty member, passed away. Having been awarded a prestigious grant, Shona has been on leave this year at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard Research Center for Renaissance Studies in Florence, Italy. Her project for this grant focused on the family of Bolognese university faculty in the fourteenth century. She had just returned from a conference in Brussels and experienced an aneurysm and cardiac arrest. Emergency personnel were able to restart her heart and she was placed on life support. Her family was with her at the end. Roisin Cossar, a long-time colleague and collaborator of Shona sent this email message:
“I was at the hospital last night with Shona’s family, her son Shane, daughter Alina, her husband Randy, and her sister Maggi. Several of Shona and Randy’s closest Italian friends were also there and were extremely supportive of the family. They all had a chance to be together to say goodbye to Shona, and begin to make some plans for the next days. The only good news in all of this is that Shona wanted to donate her organs, and this has been done successfully. Maggi said that it seemed especially fitting that Shona would be giving new life to Italians.”
The Department of History has organized a gathering for Tuesday, May 8, at 3:00 pm, at the home of Gary Ebersole.
In addition, the next meeting of the Mid-America Medieval Association, our annual medieval conference, which will take place in February 2013, will be in Shona’s honor, reflecting her work, her teaching, and her collaborations. Shona’s family and colleagues are discussing scholarships in her honor, as well.
Shona was not just an exemplary scholar and colleague. She was also a devoted mentor to UMKC students, with both undergraduate and graduate protegés whose academic growth benefited significantly from their contact with her. Many of the students with whom she worked were turned toward a feminist consciousness because of their experiences with her. She was one of the best ambassadors for WGS at UMKC we could hope to have.
Please keep Shona’s family in your thoughts and prayers. You may also post your remembrances of Shona at:
Virginia Blanton, Kathy Krause, and Linda Mitchell