Mead, Ernest - The Daily Progress: Obituaries

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mead, Ernest

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  • Ernest Mead

Ernest Campbell Mead Jr. Ernest Campbell "Boots" Mead Jr., 95, originally of Richmond, Virginia, died on Thursday, February 13, 2014. Born on June 13, 1918, Boots was the youngest child and only son of Aline Jennings Mead and Ernest Campbell Mead. He was preceded in death by two older siblings and his wife, Sally Jackson Mead. He is survived by daughters, Lindsay Lowdon and Jenny Mead, both of Charlottesville; granddaughters, Molly Campbell Lowdon and Emily Lindsay Lowdon; granddog, Milo Mead, and an extended family. He is also survived by a host of devoted students and dear friends, whom he considered family. Mr. Mead developed a love of music as a child in Richmond, studying with noted musician and composer John Powell. He arrived at the University of Virginia with a Steinway piano, bought by his parents in 1935, which he played throughout his life. Boots received his BA from the University of Virginia, studying music, German literature, and Greek, co-founded a poetry magazine, Virginia Verse, and played the piano for the Glee Club. Boots received his MA and PhD in music from Harvard University, where he studied Renaissance and Baroque music and wrote his dissertation on composer Girolamo Frescobaldi. He joined the University of Virginia music department in 1953. Among many other tasks, he served several tenures as department chair and was instrumental in creating and growing the music library and establishing the pep band. In the 1970s, at the request of students, he created his 4th year liberal arts seminar, an informal Socratic forum. Although he retired from the University in 1996, Boots continued to teach the popular seminar through 2013. During his many years of teaching, Boots was well-known for inviting students to take walks or have a cup of coffee with him at the Colonnade Club and to share their thoughts, problems, and dreams. He cherished the relationships he formed with his students, and remained profoundly grateful for what the students taught him. Legendary for his love of students, he and his wife Sally, director of the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, threw open their home to any student for conversation, advice or food. In 2002, grateful students established the Mead Endowment whose mission is to honor Boots and to celebrate and perpetuate the University's unique tradition of student/faculty interaction. The Endowment supports and encourages young faculty and scholars who have the potential to develop that same affection and concern for students that Boots had. Among other honors, Boots received the 1989 Thomas Jefferson Award, the highest accolade given by the University "for advancing, through his character, work, and personal example, the ideals and objectives for which Jefferson founded the University." A member of the Seven Society, he was also a member of the Raven Society and had a decades-long special relationship with the Z Society. Over the years, he received the faculty award from the IMP, Z, and Raven Societies as well as the Honor Committee. He also was awarded commendations from Faville, the Z Society, Society of the Purple Shadows and the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. He was an honorary member of the Jefferson Society and guest of honor at the Seven Society Monticello dinner. Although not a fraternity member as an undergraduate, Boots became faculty advisor to Kappa Sigma, and then was pledged, in his 60s, as an honorary brother. Boots was a member of the St. Paul's Memorial Church community for years, served on the vestry there, and in the turbulent 1960s, helped design and conduct Sunday evening services, with more contemporary music for UVa students. A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 29, 2014, 3 p.m. at St. Paul's Memorial Episcopal Church, 1600 University Avenue, with a reception following at the Colonnade Club, Pavilion VII, on the UVA West Lawn ( In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Mead Endowment, P.O. Box 400314, Charlottesville VA, 22904 (, or to the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, P.O. Box 7047, Charlottesville VA 22906 ( Friends may send condolences to his family at

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