Wallace Gray

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Wallace Gray PhD '58, a professor emeritus of English and comparative literature and a favorite teacher for generations of Columbia College students, died on Dec. 21, 2001 in Manhattan. He was 74 and lived in Morningside Heights.

He had a heart attack and died on the way to the hospital, the university said.

For years, Dr. Gray taught one of the college's most popular courses, Eliot, Joyce, Pound. It was known as E.J.P. among students, who would line up to hear him in his crowded auditorium.

He was the teacher with the longest service in literature humanities, a course in the college's Core Curriculum that surveys some of the most significant works in Western culture.

The college alumni association honored him with its great teacher award, and the student body gave him its Mark Van Doren Award for teaching excellence.

Dr. Gray, who also taught at Hunter College for several years, joined the Columbia faculty in 1953 as an instructor and rose to full professor in 1974. He took emeritus status in the mid-1990's but continued to teach courses at the college until last year.

A native of Alexandria, La., he served in the Navy in World War II. He graduated from Louisiana College in 1946 and received a master's degree from Louisiana State University in 1951 and a doctorate in English and comparative literature from Columbia in 1958. He had a part in campus theater productions and wrote several plays, including Helen, which envisioned a 40-year-old Helen of Troy back in Sparta; it opened Off Broadway in 1964. His Cowboy and the Tiger was a long-running musical for children and was also shown on television.

Dr. Gray is survived by a brother, Aubrey T., of Winter Park, Fla.

An authority on James Joyce's Ulysses, Dr. Gray published From Homer to Joyce (Macmillan, 1985), a collection of 18 of his essays.

He taught E.J.P. for about 20 years. It being a somewhat daunting theme, he liked to put his audience at ease as he started a new semester.

Let's be frank about this, was one of his opening quips, sure to draw a round of laughter. I know more about 'Ulysses' than anyone else in the world, and I'm going to teach it all to you.