Prof. Richard J. Handscombe of Glendon College dies at 70

Richard J. Handscombe, a professor at York’s Glendon College for three decades, died on Dec. 24 after several years of poor health. Prof. Handscombe was 70.

As a professor at Glendon College, he shared with students and colleagues his fascination with the English language and how it works in everyday life and in texts ranging from metaphysical poetry to Winnie-the-Pooh. His other great passion, a life-long interest in birds, took him around the world. More recently, he has been content to raise his binoculars in his own backyards, here in Toronto and in Montserrat, West Indies.

Handscombe was an applied linguist who had been co-writer for two television series for teaching English as a Second Language and had published in stylistics, the use of media and language pedagogy. He had most recently worked on Anglosea, a video-based series to teach English to the deck officers of the world’s merchant navies. He also taught children’s literature in addition to other courses at York University.

Prof. Handscombe leaves his wife Jean (the former director of the York University English Language Institute), his two children, Matthew and Suzannah, and one grandchild. His funeral has been held; however, friends, former students and colleagues are invited to a drop-in reception which will take place on Sunday, Jan. 22, between 3 and 8pm. Please e-mail Prof. Handscombe’s son Matthew at or call 647-436-0506 for the location of the reception and directions.