Albert Rabil, Jr.

Obituary of Albert Rabil, Jr.

Albert Rabil, Jr., a native of Rocky Mount, passed away peacefully in his sleep January 8th. He was the son of the late Albert and Sophie Rabil.


After graduating from Rocky Mount High School, he continued his studies at Duke University (BA), Union Theological Seminary (BD), and Columbia University (Ph.D.), where he was awarded the Ansley Award for the year’s best dissertation, “Merleau-Ponty: Existentialist of the Social World.” He was a founding member of SUNY College at Old Westbury and taught there from 1970 until his retirement in 1998. He earned "Best Teacher" status from students despite his challenging courses. At SUNY, he was the youngest professor named Distinguished Teaching Professor. Based in Humanities, he taught across a wide spectrum of disciplines, regularly offering new courses and challenging both himself and his students. His scholarly focus was the Renaissance. Although he never taught a college course on that subject, he directed intense month-long institutes in Renaissance Studies, sponsored by NEH, which attracted educators from nationwide.  


Albert had numerous publications, but his most significant contribution was as co-editor, along with his friend of 50 years, Margaret King, of The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe. The series aimed, in Margaret's words, "to recover works by women and by men about women that had been neglected in scholarly discussions of the period 1300-1800." Originally envisioned as a few dozen volumes, the 156th volume of the series arrived January 8, the day of his death. The project may reshape the canon of Modern European literature. 


He retired to Chapel Hill, where he kept up his daily 3 mile-jog and was surrounded by three marvelous libraries and most of his dearest relatives. For many years, he presided over the Rabil clan at joyful Thanksgiving gatherings. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Janet, his son Albert III and wife Tamara, his daughter Alison and her husband David, his sister Carolyn Grant, his brother Jimmy, five grandchildren, and numerous nieces, nephews, and other special people who consider themselves lucky that Albert was part of their lives.  


In lieu of Flowers, contributions can be made to Duke University Libraries (please use the link on the left). 

The Rabil family is under the care of Walker's Funeral Home of Chapel Hill.

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