SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

In Memoriam

Dr. Keely Kirsten Lake, Chair of NCLG, passed away unexpectedly in January. Keely was well known for her work in many Classics and World Language organizations, and her unexpected passing was as much a loss to the whole profession as it was to her friends and colleagues. Her pleasant demeanor often belied her fierce passion for studying the ancient world, her desire to share what she knew, and her absolute dedication to supporting the future generations of students and teachers. Looking back over her career, one is struck by the depth and breadth of her participation in the work of the Classics profession at all levels, from elementary to university!

 She taught Greek, Latin, and AP Seminar and Research at Wayland Academy, as well as serving as visiting, online, and adjunct professor of Mythology, Ancient History, and Latin Literature at Cornell College, Gettysburg, Ripon, Wayne State, Montclair, University of Wisconsin, and University of Minnesota.  From her early years earning her Ph.D. at the University of Iowa to the end of her life, Keely was consistently and fully engaged in attending and participating in a wide range of local, state, regional, and national conferences. She offered over 60 presentations, reviewed dozens of book and articles, published study guides, led workshops, sat on panels, served on countless committees, managed websites, held offices, and vigorously extolled the value Latin and Greek to state and national Congressmen on language advocacy days. Her commitments stretched simultaneously through an extensive web of organizations like ACL, CAMWS, SCS, Vergilian Society, Eta Sigma Phi, NCLG, JNCL-NCLIS, ACTFL and several Wisconsin language associations and the Wisconsin Junior Classical League. She also supported the Women’s Classical Caucus, the NLE, and edited for the Teaching Classical Languages journal. Her service was recognized by her peers when Keely earned a CAMWS Ovatio in 2011, and later was awarded a  2017 Recognition of Merit and a 2019 Distinguished Language Educator by the Wisconsin Association of Foreign Language Teachers.

 In the words of colleagues, we can clearly feel the impact she made on the Classics profession.  The American Classical League named the organization’s Advocacy Award in her honor. The NJCL-NCLIS Board wrote, “Keely was a wonderful colleague, a passionate language advocate and, as a person, she was devoted to her students and…her father.” CAMWS President, Anne Groton, commented on how Keely “found it difficult to say no to serving the profession.” Once Keely told her, “This sounds like a big job…Still, I know that I will learn a lot by doing it, so I will take it on!” Anne Groton continued, “When it came to promoting the Classics, (Keely) was coach, cheerleader and quarterback, all rolled into one!...it was so easy for her to bridge the gap between K-12 teacher and college professor, living, as she did, in both of these worlds at once.” Helen Cullyer, Executive Director of the SCS, similarly remarked, “though many people talk about the need for more collaboration between the K-12 and higher education sectors, Keely was one of the people who really worked hard to make those connections and collaborations. It is hard for me to imagine right now who might take her place in doing so.”  Jim O’Hara of the Vergilian Society stated, “(Keely) was the glue that held the Society together, both as an administrator and as a valuable voice on the Executive Committee. One’s first thought is that she will be irreplaceable.”

 Finally, on accepting her Distinguished Language Educator award, Keely herself aptly reflected on her life path, “I hope that others will see that they too can expand their skills, find a path and conquer new horizons. They can learn to think deeply about a wide range of issues and to communicate with anyone, even long dead Romans and Greeks through text or art or architecture, and they can apply what they learned to future experiences. In the end, I suppose that my philosophy of teaching is also my philosophy of life. Perfect means finished, and I will never be.”

Posthumously, Keely Lake was awarded the ACL Merita Award in 2020 and the ACL renamed their  ACL Advocacy Award in her honor.