Dr. Larry Paul Vonalt, chair of the department of English and technical communications at the University of Missouri-Rolla, died at Phelps County Regional Medical Center in Rolla on Dec. 26, 2005.
Dr. Vonalt taught English at the University of Florida and at Wesleyan University before arriving at UMR in 1975. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Denver and a Ph.D. graduate of the University of Florida, Vonalt’s teaching interests included Restoration and 18th Century British literature, modern and contemporary American fiction and poetry, and technical communication. His scholarly focus included the poetry of Tony Connor, the novels of Donald Harington, and the photography of Shelby Lee Adams. He served as poetry editor of College English and was project director for the National Endowment for the Humanities pilot grant “The Mississippi River: Humanities and Civil Engineering.” Dr. Vonalt was a member of the Modern Language Association, the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, and served the Popular Culture Association in the South in several capacities, including newsletter editor and president. He was a long-time faculty advisor to Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society at UMR. In his career, Dr. Vonalt secured ten research grants and awards; published more than forty articles, essays, reviews and manuscripts; and was frequently cited for his scholarly assistance, consultation, and academic service.
His wide-ranging interests included southern culture, contemporary poetry, outsider art, fine art photography, film studies, jazz, the bloodlines of thoroughbred and quarter horses and Doberman pinschers, and a love of New Harmony, Ind.
Larry was born in Angola, Indiana, on Jan. 10, 1937, to Eula Faye (Gorrell) Vonalt and the late Paul Christian Vonalt. In addition to his mother in Montpelier, Ohio, Larry is survived by his wife Elizabeth Cummins of Rolla; his daughter Larkin Vonalt, grandson Julian Lieu and son-in-law Elmer Lieu of Livingston, Montana; siblings Merrice Anne Chandler and husband James of Rotonda West, Florida; Fred Lynn and wife Ellen of Mancelona, Michigan; Timothy Chris and wife Gail of Riverside, California; and Kerry Gene of Edgerton, Ohio; his step sons Mike Cogell and wife Paula of Flower Mound, Texas, and Dan Cogell and wife Julie of Springfield, Missouri, and their sons Austin and Grant of Texas, and Cedric, Christopher and Joshua of Missouri who affectionately referred to Larry as “Grumpy.” He is also survived by several nephews and nieces, aunts and uncles. Larry enjoyed researching Vonalt family history and participating in Cummins family gatherings.
With the support of Phelps County Regional Medical Center Hospice, Larry was able to stay at home up to the last day of his final stage of laryngeal cancer. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Larry P. Vonalt Scholarship in the department of English and technical communication at UMR.
A memorial service will be held in Rolla at a later date, followed by a burial ceremony at Maple Hill Cemetery in New Harmony, Ind. Arrangements and cremation are being handled by Null and Son Funeral Home in Rolla.