Dr. John Lane Idol, Jr., age 88, son of John Lane and Annie Watson Idol, passed away on February 26, 2021 at Appalachian Brian Estates in Boone, North Carolina.
Born 10/28/1932 in Deep Gap, John attended Deep Gap Elementary School and Appalachian High School. After graduating high school, he served four years as an electronics technician in the United States Air Force, becoming part of a medal-winning crew of radar assisted photo mappers, with duty in Puerto Rico and Alaska.
An English and history major at Appalachian State University, he became editor of the Appalachian, the college newspaper; and sang in the collegiate mixed chorus. During his student years at ASU, he helped establish a Unitarian Fellowship in Boone.
Continuing his studies in English, he won a National Defense Education Act Fellowship to pursue studies at the University of Arkansas, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and earned both a Master of Arts and a PH.D.
Dr. Idol accepted an appointment at Clemson University in 1964 and taught there until his retirement in 1995. His special interests were the 19th century American novel and 17th century British poetry. Outside the classroom, he enjoyed playing intramural softball, earning over 500 victories as a pitcher; singing in the community choir, and gardening. He was twice elected to the Clemson Faculty Senate.
He actively participated in professional organizations and held the position of president of the Thomas Wolfe Society, the Nathanial Hawthorne Society, the Philological Association of the Carolinas, and the Society for the Study of Southern Literature. He was a founding member of both the Wolfe and the Hawthorne Society.
As an editor of literary journals, he oversaw the publication of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Review for nine years and served as articles editor for the Thomas Wolfe Review. He was a consulting editor for the South Carolina Review and the Thomas Wolfe Review.
Dr. Idol founded and then edited the Idol Family Newsletter for 30 years. This publication highlighted past and present members of the Idol family from Deep Gap, Kernersville, Tennessee, and Kansas. The newsletter is still being published today. Mr. Idol is also the author of an award-winning book on his family’s history entitled Blue Ridge Heritage: An Informal History of Three Generations of the Family of John Nicholson Idol, as well as a second volume entitled Deep Gap Days: A Crazy-Quilt Narrative of My Boyhood in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A collection of poems, some previously published in literary magazines, appeared in 1997 under the title The Exhibit.
Dr. Idol won citations for distinguished service from the Thomas Wolfe Society, The Nathaniel Hawthorne Society, and the American Literature Association. He was named a distinguished professor of English and the Clemson Class of 1939 awarded him $5000 for outstanding teaching and research.
The author of dozens of articles and reviews, he wrote two books on Thomas Wolfe, co-authored one on Hawthorne, edited & co-edited six works by Wolfe, co-compiled a book of contemporary reviews of Hawthorne’s work, and co-edited a volume of original essays on Hawthorne and women.
In retirement, he remained active as a teacher, serving as a visiting lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill, a volunteer teacher at the Chapel Hill Senior Citizens’ Center, and was a member of the teaching team for the Duke University program for learning in retirement.
John also became an active supporter of libraries, accepting appointments to the Library Advisory Board at Appalachian State University and the Board of Directors for the Orange County Public Library. Mr. Idol funded several reading rooms at Belk Library at ASU as well as the John and Marjorie South Idol Reading Lounge for students there.
His love of music didn’t cease with retirement. He joined the Chapel Hill Community Chorus and sang for over a dozen years. He and his wife, the former Marjorie South of Boone, sponsored a scholarship in traditional mountain music at ASU, as well as scholarships in English, Poetry Writing and other areas of study.
John returned to Boone after the death of his wife Marjorie in 2013 and lived the remainder of his life at Appalachian Brian Estates.
Dr. Idol was preceded in death by his wife, Marjorie South Idol, his parents, his sister Joyce Idol Coffey, and his brothers Jim, Bob, and Bill Idol. He is survived by brothers Ken Idol of Carlsbad, Ca., Joe Idol and wife Zola, and Steve Idol and wife Kathy of Deep Gap. and two sisters-in-law, Evelina and Margaret Idol and a brother-in-law, J.L. Coffey. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews on both the Idol and South sides of the family.
A memorial service for Dr. John Lane Idol, Jr. will be held at a later time. His burial will be in the Idol Family Cemetery on Idol Mountain in Deep Gap.
Memorials may be made to the Idol Family Cemetery or the Watson Family Cemetery in care of Steve Idol, 8821 US Hwy 421 S, Deep Gap, NC, 28618.Funeral Homes