For the middle years of the 20th century, Professor William Raymond Bourne was a large chunk of the college’s Modern Languages department.
Born in Virginia, Professor Bourne graduated from Wofford in 1923. He was part of a generation of faculty that spanned World War II, serving from 1925, when he returned to his alma mater to teach French and German after two years of teaching at Davenport College in North Carolina, until 1966, when he retired. (Davenport College, originally Davenport Female College, was a Methodist college that opened not long after Wofford and was related to the South Carolina Methodist Conference.) Along the way, Professor Bourne earned his MA at the University of North Carolina.
As a long-time member of the campus community, Professor Bourne seemed to write a good bit about campus history and traditions. As a young professor in the 1920s, he was able to work with much older professors like J. A. Gamewell and Daniel A. DuPre (who had taught with the first generation of faculty) and professors at mid-career such as D. D. Wallace, James A. Chiles, A. M. Trawick, and Coleman Waller. And then, after World War II, he would have been one of the long-timers as a younger generation of World War II veterans, like Lewis Jones, William Cavin, Ray Leonard, and Donald Dobbs.
He wrote a number of articles in the alumni magazine, in the student paper, and in the Wofford centennial issue of the Herald-Journal about various points in Wofford history, about his senior colleagues, and even about the college’s literary societies. (I’ll share that later, since we have an exhibit on the societies underway this spring).
Professor Bourne also holds the distinction of being Wofford’s first Dean of Students – an office that was created after World War II. Before World War II, “The Dean,” Mason DuPre, generally served as the arbiter of student conduct as well as the second in command to the president. With a growing student body, the college split the office.
One student wrote of his experience with Professor Bourne that he, like many first-years, was advised not to take him, that he was “a real so’n’so, works you like a horse, just ask those guys in his class.” And the article further describes Bourne’s classroom mannerism of marking attendance and grading student translation work at the blackboard with a two-inch pencil.
Bourne was one of two faculty members to hold the nickname “Peg.” The other, Prof. E. H. Shuler, got the nickname because he taught applied math, and frequently left surveying pegs all over campus. Bourne’s was because he had a wooden leg.
He retired with a large class in 1966 – alongside C. C. Norton, Charles Nesbitt, and R. A. Patterson – that had a total of 150 years of service to the college. He remained in Spartanburg, dying in January 1975.