Joel Jay Gold was born in Brooklyn, NY on December 19, 1931 to Hannah and Henry Gold. He died in Lawrence, KS on October 14, 2014. He was 82. He is survived by his wife, Ellen, of Lawrence; his sister, Marti; three children, Jennifer (husband Luke), Alison (children Celeste and Vahalla), and Katy (husband Greg, and children, Carina, Lisette, and Avery). He was preceded in death by his brother Richard in 1997.
Joel grew up in Merrick, NY and, on the advice of his family butcher, attended the University of Missouri He was diagnosed with polio shortly after arriving in Columbia and spent five days in an iron lung machine and another year recovering.
Returning to MU, he got a job as a disc jockey at KFRU. Because of his pronounced Long Island accent, listeners besieged the station: “What did he say?”
He was editor of the campus humor magazine Showme, October 1953-June 1954. Every month Showme artists sketched a center spread, showing students and residents of Columbia engaged in various activities [often drinking].
An early center spread too risqué for the times led to Joel’s appearing before the University Board of Publications and reading an apology into the record. The entire staff stayed up late that night inking out the offending artwork on every copy of the magazine.
Joel claimed that sales of ink eradicator tripled the next day.
In 1955, when the student newspaper, The Missouri Student was losing circulation, the Board of Publications, chaired by Loren Reid, who was later to become Joel’s father-in-law, asked Joel to take over.
Joel renamed the paper The Maneater and announced a “biting editorial policy” (sure to annoy deans and the administration.) ln later years, Joel reflected, “We were looking for news stories and pseudo-news. . . . Sometimes accuracy went a little by the boards.”
The MU dorms at the time had a policy that for Sunday dinner men should wear a coat and tie. One Sunday, Joel urged all the dorm residents to dress for dinner, wearing a coat and tie—but no shirt. Mrs. Houston, the housemother, just laughed.
He married Ellen Reid in 1956 and worked briefly in advertising [Brooke, Smith, French and Dorrance] and pharmaceutical sales [Lederle], before returning to graduate school.
He received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Indiana in 1962. He taught English at the University of Kansas from 1962 until his retirement in 1999, with brief visiting stints at Bowling Green State University and the University of Illinois. He received an Amoco Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Kansas and was awarded the University of Missouri’s Distinguished Alumni award in 1998.
He joined several scholarly organizations, including the MLA and was president of the Johnson Society of Kansas.
An Anglophile, Joel traveled frequently to live and work in London. His scholarly writing included editing the Yale edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson: A Voyage to Abyssinia. He also wrote humorous essays about teaching that were published in The Chronicle of Higher Education and the Lawrence Journal World. His humor was also published in Academe, FordTimes, Winds and reprinted in college textbooks. A collection of his essays appeared as a book, The Wayward Professor.
A lifelong Giants fan, Joel followed the Kansas City Royals after moving to Kansas. He would have loved this year’s World Series. Either way.
A service will be held at the Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence in the spring. In lieu of flowers, his family suggests a donation to the Lawrence Humane Society or the March of Dimes. Guestbook at www.warrenmcelwain.com.