Anson “Andy” Shupe was neither a native of Fort Wayne nor a resident when he died last week, at 67, in Bloomington. Born in Buffalo, New York, He joined IPFW’s Department of Sociology in 1987, and he retired from there in 2012. Shupe became the most prolific writer in the department, known as an authority on religion and social movements. Shupe wrote as many as 30 books.
Readers of these pages, though, may remember Shupe as a frequent letter writer who never shied from strong opinions.
In June 2001, Shupe suggested that attempts to censor always made him suspicious: “After all the righteous hullabaloo over ... ‘Corpus Christi’ to be produced ... at IPFW, I am similarly motivated to take my wife, teen-age daughter, pastor and anyone else I can persuade to go see the play – a play I would have probably otherwise ignored.”
In 2008, at the beginning of the Great Recession, Shupe ended a letter with this thought: “The worst terrorists have been on Wall Street – our own people – rather than anything coming out of the Mideast.”
And in 2011, when IPFW Chancellor Michael Wartell was forced to retire at age 65, Shupe noted that, unlike professional athletes, who peak when they’re young, “academics, whether professors or administrators, are at the top of their game at 65: smarter in their disciplines, more experienced at mentoring resources, better teachers. ... Mandatory retirements in the academic arena are the leftover of a bygone age.”
Of course, his was not the only voice on such issues. Shupe’s letters were well read – often by those who disagreed with him and didn’t hesitate to challenge his assertions. But Shupe, like his critics – and like all who have written here – was a voice who helped to make our opinion pages this community’s central forum for public discussion.