Published on June 15, 2012  

The Samford community is mourning the June 13 death of Dr. David M. Vess, professor emeritus and chair of Samford's History Department 1970-1985.

A European intellectual historian and an authority on the French Revolution, Vess received his Ph.D. from the University of Alabama, where he studied with historian John Fraser Ramsey.

As a professor at Howard College, he quickly established himself as a highly-regarded scholar of European history. His book, The Medical Revolution in France, 1789-1795, remains the definitive study of medicine during the French Revolution.

One former student recalled that Vess “represented the best that college had to offer—intellect, humor, integrity, openness, fairness, compassion, and understanding.”

Historian Wayne Flynt, another of Vess’ students and later a colleague, once wrote that Vess “demonstrated that, even with heavy teaching loads, one could write a fine book and achieve scholarly recognition. "But most of all David shared history and himself with a generation of students beyond just the formal boundaries of a classroom.”

In lieu of flowers, Vess’ family encourages memorial gifts to the David M. Vess Scholarship for Study Abroad or the George V. Irons Scholarship Endowment Fund, both in Samford’s History Department at 800 Lakeshore Dr., Birmingham, AL, 35229.

Visitation will be Saturday, June 16, at 1 p.m. at Ridout’s Valley Chapel in Homewood. The memorial service will begin at 2 p.m.


Samford’s History Department
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.