The loss of William Darkey-- tutor emeritus, cherished by students and colleagues alike for more than six and half decades -- is keenly felt by the St. John’s College community. A tutor above all, Mr. Darkey also served in a number if other capacities, including admissions director and librarian in Annapolis and founding faculty member and dean at the Santa Fe campus.
Raised in Western Maryland, Mr. Darkey attended St. John’s on a scholarship and, before graduating in 1942, was offered a faculty position. His lifetime devotion to the college was interrupted briefly when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1946 and then, upon his honorable discharge, pursued a graduate degree in English literature at Columbia University. Noted poet and professor Mark Van Doren was both mentor and good friend. Returning to St. John’s in 1949, Mr. Darkey joined a cadre of tutors under Stringfellow Barr and Scott Buchanan who helped build the college’s reputation, including intellectuals and refugees from Europe such as Jascha Klein, Simon Kaplan, and Eva Brann and gifted composers such as Elliot Carter.
Mr. Darkey served as dean in Santa Fe from 1968 to 1972 with “imagination, diligence, and perceptiveness,” former president Richard Weigle wrote in one of his memoirs. Mr. Darkey, in a 2006 college interview, gratefully remembered his wife, Connie’s enthusiasm for the new campus. A dedicated tutor, Mr. Darkey was known for his intellect, his gentle manner in the seminar room, and his ability to bring out different points of view by employing his quiet humor. In particular, Mr. Darkey drew much inspiration from teaching community seminars and as a result, established a cherished circle of students and friends in Santa Fe.