In Memoriam: John Troyer

John Gordon Troyer (1943-2020)

With great sorrow we report the death of Associate Professor Emeritus John G. Troyer, who died on August 11, 2020 surrounded by family. He was a beloved colleague, generous with his time, who took great interest in the work of the rest of the department members. He was always willing to read and give helpful comments on one’s latest essay.

John received his B.A. from Swarthmore College in 1965, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1967 and 1971. He was brought to the University of Connecticut in 1970 by then Department Head Jerome Shaffer as part of an initiative to build up the research profile of the Philosophy Department, spending his entire teaching career here. He spent the 1969-70 academic year at Oxford on a Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship from Harvard. He received a National Endowment for the Humanities Younger Humanist Fellowship in 1974 and became an inaugural Member of Common Room at Wolfson College, Oxford in 1977.

Most notable among his publications were a special issue of Sythese in 1974, Intentionality, Language, and Translation jointly edited with Samuel C. Wheeler, III, that included papers from a widely acclaimed international conference they hosted at UConn; an essay “Locke on the Names of Substances,” first published in 1975 and reprinted in 1992 in a volume on Locke edited by Vere Chappell; and a 1997 collection entitled In Defense of Radical Empiricism: Essays and Lectures by Roderick Firth, on whose work John was a world expert.

Troyer was a superb chess player. Once after winning the New Mexico state championship he was accosted by the great George Koltanowski as well as the then champion of California and told not to go into chess because there was no future in it. He was an indefatigable squash player who beat almost everyone he played, clearly manifesting genes from his father who broke the University of Michigan 50-yard dash record in a gym class and who became a golden gloves boxer in the Navy. Among other quirks, John was a beekeeper who produced a peerless dark honey and an expert on the Shroud of Turin.