Geoffrey Donovan Aggeler
Geoffrey Donovan Aggeler passed on July 31, 2018 at Serenity House in Santa Barbara, due to multiple causes. He was born September 26, 1939, in Berkeley, California, the only child of William Ford Aggeler and Shirley Donovan Aggeler.
When he was two, the three moved to Santa Barbara, where he attended Catholic grade and high school. During his childhood he also lived with his maternal grandparents, John Joseph and Minda Donovan, to whom he was especially close, in Casper, Wyoming. From 1957 to 1959 he was a student at Santa Clara University, transferring to the University of California at Davis as a junior. It was there he met Sondra Croce. They wed two years later at Carmel Mission, and went on to enjoy 56 love and fun-filled years of marriage. They shared a passion for animals and concern for people that led them into active involvement in numerous causes in Salt Lake City and Santa Barbara. They have three children: Brian Croce (Angela), Jill Marie (Jaime) and Christian Donovan (Heidi). Geoff loved the outdoors, and was happiest when he and his family were camping, skiing, backpacking, fly fishing, or hiking. He could never get enough of the Uinta Mountains in northern Utah nor of the red rock desert in southern Utah. He ran 12 marathons, including Pikes Peak, and recorded a personal best of 2:52; he continued to run half-marathons after retiring to Santa Barbara in 2001. In his younger years he worked as a seasonal ranger and fire crew leader with the U.S. Forest Service, and was a member of the Los Padres Hot Shot Crew. Geoff was also a student of martial arts for many years, earning a brown belt. In 2000 he was named the honorary chair of the Utah Open Karate Tournament.
Geoff earned his PhD in English from UC Davis in 1966. His first appointment was at Royal Roads in Victoria, BC, a branch of the Royal Military College of Canada, where he coached the judo team along with his teaching duties. He taught there for three years before taking an appointment at the University of Utah, where he taught for 32 years before retiring as an Emeritus Professor of English. In 1998, the University inducted Geoff into Phi Beta Kappa. He published both scholarly books and novels throughout his life, including Confessions of Johnny Ringo, hailed as a masterpiece by novelist Anthony Burgess. His articles on Renaissance and modern British literature appeared in leading North American, European, and Asian journals. Geoff presented papers in England, Japan, and at numerous conferences in the United States and Canada. He chaired sessions at meetings of the Modern Language Association, the Marlowe Society, and the Philological Association of the Pacific Coast. Geoff held visiting appointments in drama and the writing program at UCSB, and taught courses in Shakespeare at the Schott Center. He also led a workshop on narrative techniques in fiction and creative nonfiction at the annual Santa Barbara Writers Conference. He enjoyed being a freelance editor, and his clients published both novels and nonfiction books.
Geoff was an honorable, intelligent, and kind man, who was a proud Democrat and Catholic. But he was most proud of his beloved grandchildren: Madeleine Marie, Mia Gabrielle, Gwenyth Taylor, Sean Geoffrey, and Donovan James. A celebration of Geoff’s life will be held at a later date. His ashes will be scattered near Leadbetter Beach, where he spent countless hours playing as a boy, and near the beautiful red sand of southern Utah he so adored.
“To write of life one must live fully and take what was offered — danger, pain, and all the bitter reminders of mortality.” Geoff Aggeler, Horses of the Night.