One does not usually enter a classroom expecting to hear an instructor speak with a British accent. However, the charming accent was only one of the multitude of characteristics that defined former GCC professor John Craven, who passed away in August.
Born in 1930 in Poona, India to missionary parents, Craven was only 5-years-old when his parents moved back to England. In 1954, he earned his bachelor’s degree from La Sierra University in Riverside, California and in 1962 he earned his master’s in English from USC.
Later that year he married Shirley Stoft and also began teaching at GCC full-time, launching a career that spanned 47 years. During his time here, Craven developed single-unit classes designed to help students whose writing skills were at a remedial level. He also could often be found in the Learning Center helping students.
“He would stay at school much longer than he needed too,” said English instructor Dennis Doyle.
Doyle described Craven as a “real gentleman” who truly cared about the well-being of his students. Upon his retirement, Craven donated a fund that benefits the English and ESL departments. Rewarding innovations in composition, the winner of the John Craven Award would receive a $500 cash prize.
In an article penned by Craven, he stated that he accepted “the challenge and duty” of trying to make his students not only understand his classes but also enjoy them as much as possible.
He was also passionate about history, and was dismayed that many students were not interested in the subject. He concluded that students “have an unshakable faith that history is the story of dead people unconnected to them today.” In an effort to get students more interested in history, he donated his collection of historical videos and DVDs, mostly on British and European history, to the Instructional Technology Services for professors to use in their classrooms.
English instructor Steve Taylor described Craven as a “seeker of great thoughts.” He belonged to a small club that would discuss philosophy, politics, and current events. He also published “Dropping Pebbles in a Pool,” a collection of poetry in 2006.
A memorial service for Craven was held on Sept. 2 at Glendale Forest Lawn.