‘Doc’ Tom Lovell, Known to Thousands on Campus, Claimed by Death at 67
“Doc” Thomas Lovell, 67, for many years a cobbler extraordinary and a campus celebrity, died at 8:30 this morning at the Washtenaw County home.
The death of “Doc” Tom Lovell, Ann Arbor poet-cobbler and newsboy for upwards of two decades and a familiar figure to thousands of Michigan alumni, marks the passing of one of the most picturesque characters from the University campus.
Virtually a tradition at Michigan, “Dr. Thom” as he was familiarly know, caused considerable speculation when he disappeared from his accustomed State St. haunts early last fall. Reports that a nervous breakdown caused him to seek rest at a Canadian health resort were current but unverified.
During the winter, however, “Dr. Tom” suddenly appeared in Ann Arbor and through the interest of county authorities in his welfare, was given a home at the county farm. General debilities were believed to have been responsible for his death.
Favorite With Students
“Dr. Tom,” known for his propensities as a writer and orator, was a personal favorite with the thousands of University students.
There were few phases of campus life in which he had not participated during his extraordinary career. He had been mentioned by the student body for president, was the (Continued on Page Eighteen)
‘Doc’ Tom Lovell Claimed By Death
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recipient of numerous “honorary degrees” which the students devoted considerable time to finding, and was self-styled “founder of evolution.”
His numerous degrees, which by tradition were added to by each graduating class, presents a formidable list of diversified talents. Among these were: Founder of Free Verse (from Paris, 1914); Lieutenant Colonel of Archery; A. W. O. L., (American Writer of Literature); S. O. S., (Society of Scribes), T. N. T., (Thinks New Thoughts), P. D. Q. (Professor of Dual Quinology), M. O. D., (Master of Debate), D. U. M., (Doctor of Universal Music), D. O. E., (Doctor of Evolution), G. T. W., (Greatest Time Writer), Camp Davies Honorary Degree Curve, Ph. D., D.D., LL.D., P. L.
Remembered by Graduates
Honors came to the poet-cobbler from all parts of the world wherever graduates of the University were to be found. Among the signatures to letters received by him were those purported to be of King George, Queen Mary, the Prince of Wales, Lloyd George, Balfour, President Wilson, Governor Sleeper and Senator James Couzens.
The campus straw votes found Dr. Tom’s name invariably high on the list. In a vote taken in a history class on the campus as to the greatest American, Dr. Tom ranked third, and in other straw votes was placed in nomination for the presidency of the United States and president of the University.
“Doc” Lovell in his later years declared he had shaken the hands of and given advice to 100,000 Michigan students. In 1927, on a visit to Detroit, he challenged all evolutionists to a debate on the evolution question, although “convinced from his close contact with campus life that Darwin might have been right at times but generally speaking made bad use of his talents.”
When first a resident of Ann Arbor, “Doc” Lovell was favorably known as a cobbler operating a small shop at the north end of Elizabeth St. However, the campus district, especially State St., became a popular haunt with him particularly because of the expressed interest of the students.
The facts of his life are best described by himself in an “autobiography in education by Dr. Tom Lovell,” published in 1928. “I was born on the eighteenth day of March, 1863, in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England,” he wrote.
“Like Napoleon I have had to fight my own battles nd do every bit myself to tell the world that self-reliance is the power of any person. When I was 12 years of age three fellows saw in me a kid boxer. They trained me from 12 to 14 till I was like a cat in a ring and my opponent had hard work to catch me.
“In 1883 on the first of November, I left my country home for the big metropolis London. Here I went to be trained as an officer in the army, but my fingers were all crushed one morning in an accident, so I was discharged. I went up and down England till I settled down in my native town. In 1907, things got deplorable in England by way of employment and wages so low that I resolved to cross the sea. In July of that year, I left Liverpool to and in Quebec, in Canada. From then back to Toronto, then to St. Thomas, then to Essex, then to McGregor, then to Windsor and from Windsor up here to the Athens of the west, where I’ve distinguished myself as a poet, a song writer and a literary writer.”
His various honors and talents are fully described by “Tom” in his recollections published in his autobiography, the poet giving “Some Thoughts on Philpsophy” a treatise on “The Hen and the Egg,” “The Fourth Dimension,” “Perpetual Motion,” “Public Speaking,” “What’s in a Name?” “Cause and Effect,” “Another Big War,” “Ambition,” “Evolution, What It Can Do and What It Can’t Do,” “A Theory of A Theory,” which contained his reply to Darwin’s “Origin of Species,” “Applied Chemistry,” and other similar discussions.
Many verses of his poetry also are included in the volume, dedicated to the memory of his son, David T. Lovell, and written “in the hope that it will serve as an inspiration to all deserving young men and women students who are striving toward a high goal in life.”
He is survived by the widow who is matron of the Children’s Shelter at Chatham, Ont.
The body was removed to Staffan’s funeral home. Funeral arrangements have not been completed, pending the arrival of Mrs. Lovell in Ann Arbor.