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Allan Eller dies at 64

Allan L. Eller, an enthusiastic scholar equally at home teaching Beowulf and science fiction, died Dec. 9.

Eller, 64, of Greene, a longtime University administrator and adjunct faculty member in the English Department, suffered a spine injury when he fell off a horse in August 2005.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Columbia College in 1964, a master’s degree in English from the University of Toledo in 1967 and a doctorate from Binghamton University in 1978. He held administrative posts in Residential Life, the Provost’s Office and the Graduate School during his career at Binghamton.

Donald Blake, associate dean of Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, said he and Eller earned their doctorates and entered the University’s administration at the same time.

“There was always a wry wit about Al and his approach to administration,” Blake recalled.

Blake said Eller taught small classes focused on Beowulf and Old English as well as large lectures about horror fiction and science fiction.

This fall, Blake invited Eller to lecture on Beowulf in his Introduction to Poetry class. Though the accident had left Eller a quadriplegic, he prepared an hour-long presentation complete with articulate, beautiful pronunciation of Old English, Blake said.

“He really prepared for the class,” Blake said. “Without hands and the ability to look down very much, he still held the class. He held the students enthralled.”

The next day, Eller took the time to e-mail Blake with one additional point he had forgotten to mention during the lecture. It was a typically conscientious gesture, his colleague said.

For years, Eller coordinated Commencement ceremonies at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton. Blake recalled him, bullhorn in hand, telling students where to stand. “He was a good drill sergeant,” Blake said.

Provost Mary Ann Swain agreed that Eller provided exceptional leadership for Commencement.

“I could always count on him to carry through whatever assignment I gave him,” she said. “He was a very effective writer.”

A memorial service for Eller is planned at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 18, at Zion Episcopal Church in Greene.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy; his parents; a daughter and son-in-law; a son and daughter-in-law; a granddaughter; a sister and brother-in-law and a brother.

Memorial donations may be made to Craig Hospital, 3425 S. Clarkson St., Englewood, Colo. 80113; or Zion Episcopal Church, 10 N. Chenango St., Greene, N.Y. 13778.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08