University News

WIU Mourns Death of English Professor Emeritus Olive Fite

May 3, 2012

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MACOMB, IL – Olive Fite, English professor emeritus at Western Illinois University, passed away April 26 at Wesley Healthcare Center in Macomb. She was 100 years old.

She was a distinguished scholar of American literature who served Western Illinois students for 25 years, from 1947-1972. She was a noted Herman Melville scholar, and she contributed numerous critiques on Melville's works, which were published in the journal Nineteenth-Century Fiction as well as periodicals such as Melville Society Extracts.

Fite earned her bachelor's degree at Illinois State and her master's degree and Ph.D. at Northwestern University. Between her undergraduate degree and her doctorate, she taught nine years in the Oak Park (IL) elementary schools and one year at Indiana Central College.

In 1986, she established the Olive Fite American Literature Scholarship, which provides a stipend to an English major who has a minimum 3.0 grade point average and who is recommended by American literature faculty.

A brief memorial service for Fite will be held at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 120 N. McArthur Street, Macomb, following the worship service Sunday, May 6, at approximately 11:30 a.m. A guestbook is available at

Memorial contributions may be made to First Christian Church, Wesley Village or the Olive Fite Scholarship in American Literature at the WIU Foundation.

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