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Yale 62

R. David Arkush

Born: March 23. 1940
Died: October 15, 2018

R. David Arkush was born in New York City, son of Ralph Montgomery Arkush and Inez Email Ferguson Arkush. He prepared for Yale at Exeter.

David was a philosophy major, ranking scholar, on the Banner board and a resident of Pierson College. He spent his junior year in Paris in a Sweet Briar College program at University of Paris.

He received his B.A. at Yale in 1962 with our class and then continued his studies at Harvard. He earned a Master of Arts in East Asia Regional Studies from Harvard in 1964 and his Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard in 1976.

David was a professor of Chinese History who taught for almost 40 years at University of Iowa. He authored several books and many treatises about Chinese history. He was known for his research on the landmark Chinese anthropologist Fei Xiaotong, Chinese folk culture of the first half of the twentieth century and Chinese folklore. He made many trips to China, Taiwan, and Japan over the years and developed warm relationships with a network of Chinese scholars.

Dave served as Assistant History Department Chair at Iowa for several years and was Executive Secretary, Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs and the correspondent fellow with Chinese Folk Culture Institute, Beijing, since 1993.

David was married twice: to Susan Nelson in 1963 with whom he had 2 daughters and to Helene Lesage in 1991. He is warmly remembered as a kind and loving father, a wonderful husband, and a good friend. He had an independent mind and a keen curiosity about almost everything. He loved travel, classical music, cross word puzzles, countryside walks, swimming, the New York Times, speaking French, cats, and enjoying good food and laughter with friends.

David is survived by his wife Helene Lesage Arkush; his children, Elizabeth Arkush and Anne Arkush; his sister Deborah Ages; and his grandchildren, Zora Burroughs, Ezekiel Vlahos and Jonah Vlahos.

The family requested that memorials be directed to the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Iowa Chapter in West Des Moines.


R. G. Oliver