Dr. Hill and students

Memorial Celebration for John Cobb set for November 1

October 26, 2004

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College will hold a Memorial Celebration for the late Dr. John C. Cobb, a beloved English professor who died in an automobile accident in July, on Monday, Nov. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in Leonard Auditorium. The event is free and open to all who wish to join in the celebration of Cobb’s life.

The celebration will feature guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Peter Mayer, known for his performances as one of Jimmy Buffet’s Coral Reefers.

“Dr. Cobb was known for his zest for life, and was not only a scholar, but also a singer and guitarist,” say Dr. Ron Robinson, Perkins-Prothro Chaplain and professor of religion, who is organizing the event, along with Cobb’s colleagues on the Wofford faculty. “We want everyone to come and help us celebrate John’s life.”

Mayer has built an audience following across the country since stepping outside his role as a Coral Reefers to perform as a solo artist, with a eclectic writing style and distinctive voice.

Mayer is a native of Tamilnadu, the far southern region of India, where his parents served as missionaries for 17 years before returning to their Missouri roots. Musical influences from that period of his life can be heard in his playing. He recalls, “I can remember Indian musicians giving Christmas concerts in my parents’ house. Wildly playing drums and flutes, shakers and bells, they would go on for hours and hours.” He went on to study formal theory and composition, and to teach jazz guitar as a faculty member of Webster University.

When Elliot Scheiner was hired to produce Jimmy Buffet’s Off to See the Lizard album, he suggested that Buffet use PM, a band that included Mayer, his brother Jim and Roger Guth, for the recording sessions. Buffet was so impressed with their versatility as musicians and performers that he quickly hired them as part of his own Coral Reefer Band, a successful relationship that continues to date.

Cobb, a 1976 Wofford graduate, was himself a musician, performing with a local band, The 88s.

He joined the Wofford English department in 1994 after earning two master’s degrees and his Ph.D. from Rutgers University.

He helped develop and directed the college’s freshman reading program, The Novel Experience, an innovative program in which the incoming freshman class reads a selected novel, discusses it over dinner with their humanities classmates in local restaurants, then are able to hear from the author during a convocation on campus.

Cobb was the coordinator of the Wofford humanities program, and also taught in Wofford’s Presidential Seminar, a program for graduating seniors distinguished for their academic achievement and contributions to the college community.

Last fall, Cobb presented a paper, titled “‘Henry V’ and Historical Imagination: A Case for the Chorus,” at the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association. He served as Renaissance Chair for the organization. He also served as a panelist for the Shakespeare Festival at Converse College and as the outside evaluator for the department of English at Catawba College.

Cobb was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Spartanburg, where he was a frequent lector.