AVA CHITWOOD was born Deborah Jean Tipton Chitwood in Charlottesville, Virginia, on December 17, 1953. Her father Edward was a widely respected surgeon and her mother Sarah was a pediatrician. Ava gradated from the University of Massachusetts in 1982 and received an M.A. in Classics from Johns Hopkins in 1983. While she pursued her doctorate, she taught at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, from 1989 to 1993, when she received her Ph.D. with a dissertation that explored the relationship of Diogenes Laertius’s accounts of the deaths of philosophers Heraclitus, Empedocles, and Democritus with their philosophical works. She later expanded this work into her 2004 book. She taught for one year (1993-94) at Notre Dame and then at the University of Florida (1996-97) before moving to the Department of World Languages at the University of South Florida, where she rose from assistant professor (1997-2001) to associate professor (2001-2012). Apart from her study of the philosophers, her more general interest encompassed Greek civilization and classical mythology. In addition to a complement of language courses, she taught a variety of courses designed to appeal to non-Classics students, such as courses in medical terminology and film. Students commented on the enthusiasm, learning and skill she brought to the classroom. She was honored by USF after a decade of service and was named an honorary “coach” by the athletic department for her services in educating athletes. Following her death on November 1, 2012, in Tampa from a heart attack, students held a memorial service at which they lit candles and poured a libation in honor of her favorite goddess, Athena.
DISSERTATION: “Deaths of the Greek Philosophers” (Johns Hopkins, 1993).
PUBLICATIONS: “The Death of Empedocles,” AJP 107 (1986) 175-91; “Heraclitus αἰνικτής: Heraclitus and the Riddle,” SCO 43 (1993) 49-62; Death by Philosophy: The Biographical Tradition in the Life and Death of the Archaic Philosophers Empedocles, Heraclitus, and Democritus (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004) REVS: Phronesis 50,4 (2005) 337-340 Jaap Mansfeld; CR n.s. 56, 2 (2006) 286-287 Simon Trépanier.
— Ward Briggs
SOURCES: The Oracle (USF) 8 November 2012.