December 5, 1924 - April 25, 2020
The world of Garland Cannon began in Fort Worth, Texas, on December 5, 1924. As the only child of Garland Sr., and his wife Myrtle, the family of three lived for the first eight years of his life in Fort Worth, in homes always surrounded by beautiful flowers planted by Myrtle. The family moved to San Angelo for the next two years, where Garland Sr. could overcome tuberculosis in a sanitorium, as he needed to live where the air was easier to breathe.
Myrtle and Garland Jr. lived in Carlsbad, outside of San Angelo, where they raised chickens and sold eggs to provide for the family during the Great Depression. When Garland Sr. was well, the family moved again to Sterling City, Texas, where Garland Jr. enrolled in school. Garland Sr. owned and operated a pool and domino hall, and his mom was a housewife who delighted in raising their son and being involved in all of his learning experiences.
Young Garland ultimately graduated as valedictorian of his high school class in 1941. His mom wanted him to remain in Sterling City, but he wanted to study at the University of Texas at Austin. Because he was a 17-year-old college freshman, he studied at U.T. Austin for two years before he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.
In 1943, Garland's Marine Corps service during World War II began; his father had wanted him to join programs that would keep him in school for a while and then enter Officer Candidate School, but Garland was too young for those programs and did not want to wait.
His Marine service began in Hilo, Hawaii for training at Camp Catlin, and was ultimately sent to Tarawa in the Second Marine Division, as replacements for wounded soldiers. Ultimately he was sent to Apemama Island and ultimately back to Hawaii as part of the new Sixth Marine Division. He trained to invade the Philippines at Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands, later on Saipan, and then Okinawa during the Japanese occupation of Okinawa. Finally he was sent to Tsington, China, briefly and then discharged to reunite with his family in Douglas, Arizona.
Although he did not speak much of his time in service, his family realized that he had experienced things he never wanted to discuss. Following his honorable discharge, his mother still always hoped he would come home to Sterling City.
However, Garland had a different route in mind toward his future. Using his GI Bill funding, in 1946, Garland re-enrolled in the University of Texas at Austin and joined a fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau, ultimately becoming its social director. When his fraternity sponsored a Valentine's Day dance for neighboring sorority sisters, one young woman caught his eye. Her name was Sally Patricia Richardson, better known as Pat. After a whirlwind courtship, they married soon after and by November, they welcomed their first daughter, Margaret to their world.
Soon Garland moved his young family to Bryan, where he took a teaching job at Allen Academy. Wanderlust was in his soul as he welcomed virtually any opportunity to travel and learn new things. Ultimately the family found themselves in Honolulu, Hawaii, located near Pearl Harbor. It was there in Hawaii that a chance conversation with a good friend caused Garland to start thinking what all he could do and be in his future career. He began considering his future with more purpose rather than letting life happen.
His new direction found Garland pursuing more education, this time enrolling at Stanford University where he earned his master's degree. He took on three jobs to finance his education expenses, including working as a gardener, and as a teaching assistant at Stanford. Garland fell in love with education, words specifically, and decided a Ph.D. would take him where he wanted to be in the world of academe.
In January 1953, Garland packed up the family and moved to Austin, Texas, where he enrolled in doctoral studies at the University of Texas, Austin. When he completed his Ph.D. in English and linguistics from U.T. Austin, the family of (now) four, daughter Elizabeth (Liz) had arrived in Austin, they headed for Ypsilanti, Michigan, where Garland took a teaching position.
Early in his academic career, Dr. Cannon was a popular speaker and prolific researcher in the field of linguistics, and so many research institutions invited him to spend semesters-in-residence at their campuses. By 1956, the Cannons had reached Bangkok, Thailand, where third daughter, Jennifer, was born. Life there was as normal as possible; on Sunday afternoons, Pat Cannon would take her daughters to an ice cream factory in Formosa for their weekend adventures. Next stop was in Jacksonville, Florida, where Garland taught college as his children experienced a new elementary school.
Every move was an adventure for the Cannon family; by 1958, Garland taught at the University of San Juan in Puerto Rico, and then tested the family's resilience by relocating yet again to New York City, in order that he could pursue advanced research studies at Columbia University. Their accommodations were those of a non-tenured professor and although his children went to a special international school at Columbia, their father still walked them to school every day.
In 1959, he became the director of English Studies in Kabul, Afghanistan. The best benefit of having a parent who was an international scholar was that his family was his priority and he would rarely travel without them. Consequently, his Christmas break afforded the family plenty of time to travel to India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Nepal all for his linguistics research. The bonus was that the children were learning about the world, the cultures of the people, and the geographical terrain in each setting. He was truly the original Indiana Jones.
Garland preferred doing non-tourist trips, so they had a vintage VW microbus and drove everywhere they could, daytime or nighttime. For accommodations, they would stay, for example, in a monastery with no electricity and no heat. The experiences were increasingly fascinating, and some of the venues featured many servants to help with the family. Garland and Pat enjoyed bridge with other adults and servants looked after the children. Cultural exchanges were substantial as daughter Liz learned Farsi from one of the cooks, while she helped him with his English.
Summer travel to Europe was next in the plans for the entire family and Pat said that the summer produced the location of every restroom in Europe because having three daughters afforded her that knowledge.
The family photo albums hold the keys to the excitement, adventures, and memories the entire family made while Garland researched and wrote some of the world's most prestigious volumes on linguistics. Together they saw the world—Brussels, Jerusalem, Cairo (with a photo of him standing on top of the great pyramid), Rome, Pisa, and Paris. Garland authored, or co-authored, books such as "The Japanese Contributions to the English Language," "The Persian Contributions to the English Language," and "The Arabic Contributions to the English Language."
Garland and Pat had a more extensive stay in a dark, dank castle in London that belonged to an heir of Sir William Jones, a scholar on whom Garland ultimately became the leading authority. Jones was considered an authority on the relationship on Indo-European languages, as reflected in Cannon's volume, "Sir William Jones, Orientalist." Jones was considered a master of 13 languages and he had a working knowledge of 28 others.
Stateside once again, the family's next stop was Skokie, Illinois, from 1962–1963, during a typical winter, where Garland accepted a position at the University of Chicago. Winters were rough, so in the summers the girls were only too happy to travel to Sterling City, Texas, and spend time with their paternal grandparents and even enrolled in school there for a time. In 1963 Garland and Pat's son, William Cannon (Will) was born and was given the name William to honor the premier linguistics scholar sometimes referred to as the "Father of Modern Linguistics."
Next, the Cannons moved, this time to New York, as Garland became associated with Queens College in New York City. Life was a little more settled for the girls and they had time to make friends in Manhasset, Long Island, during their middle school and early high school days. Times were simpler then. Pat had no concerns for her children going by themselves to the New York World's Fair in 1964. In that same year, Dr. Cannon received a grant from the American Philosophical Society for research in England.
After decades of serendipitous and amazing travel, cultural and educational adventures, and at least 17 books, hundreds of published academic articles, and countless invited international lectures, a then-expanding campus of Texas A&M University called. Dr. Cannon answered and brought his family to College Station in the summer of 1966, establishing their longest-term residence in the heart of the historic district. His specialty was the Arabic, Farsi, and Japanese languages. He received the Distinguished Achievement Award from Texas A&M in 1972 and a grant from the Indian Government in 1984, the same year he received a grant from the Linguistic Society of America/American Council Learned Societies.
Four years into their time at Texas A&M, Dr. Cannon took a sabbatical to research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for a year before returning to Texas A&M. In 1980 they went to Kuwait and their son graduated from an international high school there. As the older children grew, married and moved away, Garland and Pat decided to continue their love of travel and joined Aggie students as chaperones on trips to China and Russia and everywhere in between. Pat once determined that they had toured the entire world three times over. It could be the term "frequent fliers" was first coined for Garland and Pat Cannon!
Garland could simply not bring himself to retire completely. Follow his official retirement in 1992, as Professor Emeritus, he kept up his daily working routine. He would rise in the morning, make his lunch, ride his bike to campus, work in his library office until about 3:30 p.m. and then swim laps at the university's swimming pool before heading home.
For a time Garland and Pat considered retiring to a little chalet in Paris, one of their favorite cities together, and they continued traveling on cruises to Jamaica, Rio de Janeiro during Carnival time, and they even went to Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia for a year and he would take a visiting professorship there. They loved being anyplace they could play bridge with friends. The couple, devoted to each other all their lives, had endless energy and never sat still when travel could be enjoyed. In 2010, Pat passed away at age 85. Garland tried independent living in local retirement communities, and tried staying in touch with all of his friends, as a faithful correspondent.
Yet, for all of his knowledge and mastery of challenging languages, the one challenge Garland chose not to conquer was the modern day personal computer. So, daughter Liz found new sources to find replacement typewriter ribbons for his faithful standard word compositor, and he remained as prolific as ever. Liz became a faithful bridge partner and she participated in tournaments all over the country. A chance visit to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, in 2015 would foreshadow Garland's final happy home.
The year 1989 presented Garland with his first health challenge, his battle with prostate cancer. The prognosis was not good, and yet something he described as a miracle took place as he was on what was supposed to be his deathbed. A young Candy Striper visited his room at the hospital and asked if she could pray with him. Throughout his life he had a basic faith but not one as much as you would speak out loud. The next day following the prayer, Garland awoke and he was not only better, he was well enough to go home.
In gratitude for what he considered his miraculous healing, Garland joined St. Thomas Episcopal Church and attended faithfully. He volunteered two afternoons or evenings and visited folks in the hospital in gratitude to reciprocate for the kindness he experienced there. As he entered his final years in College Station, Garland found it challenging to cope with predictable day-after day routine, so daughter Liz was inspired to have him join her in moving. They were living in Ft. Worth at the time when she asked him, "Hey Dad, what would you think about moving to San Miguel de Allende?" His response? "I'd love it!" So, in 2017, she found a beautiful casita for him to enjoy life somewhat on his own. It was one of the happiest and most exciting parts of his life, especially the opportunity to experience new cultures. She hired a fulltime caregiver to accompany him to restaurants, trips to the Sierra Madres, and day trips exploring the beauty of nature there.
Of course Dr. Cannon was fluent in Spanish, and he was so delighted to be in the never-predictable surroundings of beauty that one day he decided he should instead be called "Orlando," a name he chose himself. His final years were as rich as they could have possibly been. With Liz and her beloved Labrador dog traveling to see her father each day, she would encounter him reading and resting comfortably, as all was right in this brilliant, gifted scholar's world. An Episcopalian priest visited him in his final days and he gave clear signs that he was joyful, at peace, and prepared to travel, one more time, to the adventure that awaited him as his life in this world ended. Garland Cannon left the world on April 25, 2020.
There is little doubt that his world was a dynamic series of adventures, that began on Valentine's Day in 1947 and lasted him throughout the next 73 years of his 95 years on Earth.
Garland is survived by daughter Margaret Cannon of Bryan and her son Nathaniel Swanson; daughter Jennifer Cannon Cokerham (Monty); daughter Liz Jacobson of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and son, William (Will) Cannon of Austin. Additional survivors include granddaughter Paige Jacobson Glier (Kip) of Houston with great-granddaughters, Mia and Sophie Glier, and grandson, Chuck Jacobson of Houston.
The family wishes to thank Stan Antrobus, formerly of Home Instead, for friendship and professional caregiving to Dr. Cannon in College Station.
A memorial service will be held at a future date. Express condolences online at CallawayJones.com.