August 16: The Death of Vernon Squires
On this date in 1930, Vernon Squires, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of North Dakota, died after a long illness. Born on November 4, 1864, in Cortland, New York, Vernon Purinton Squires received a bachelor's degree from Brown University in 1889, a master's degree from the University of Chicago in 1895, and an honorary doctor of letters from Brown University in 1914.
Arriving in 1897 as an English professor, he became UND's Dean of the College of Liberal Arts in 1914. A deeply emotional, sentimental, and religious man, Vernon Squires wore his heart on his sleeve. He loved giving speeches. Notable examples included a lecture on the “Conservation of Culture” in 1910, a lecture praising “Anglo-Saxon Ideals” in 1917, a controversial speech denouncing Bolshevism in 1919, and a fierce speech condemning the Ku Klux Klan in 1924. He published “A Moral Code for Boys and Girls” in 1918.
But perhaps he was most well-known for teaching the early history of the University of North Dakota in lectures required for all freshmen. He also wrote a serialized history of UND in the North Dakota Quarterly.
A staunch friend of Wesley College, Vernon Squires was among the faculty who invited President Robertson to move the Methodist school from Wahpeton to a site next to UND.
Upon his death, the Grand Forks Herald eulogized, “Though not of great age he had lived a life so full and complete that his seems to have been an unusually long career. Identified with the University of North Dakota almost from its very beginning, he has been an important part of the life of that institution and a constant contributor to its progress and its development. He brought to his work there the resources of scholarship and the enthusiasm of a man in love with his work.”
Vernon Squires died at sixty-five of heart failure, surrounded by his wife and five of his six children. Hundreds of mourners, including many powerful men, would attend his funeral two days later.
Vernon Squires was a larger-than-life presence at UND.
Dakota Datebook by Andrew Alexis Varvel
- “Dean Squires Dies; Served University 33 Years”; Grand Forks Herald (evening edition); 16 August 1930; page 1, column 1; page 2, column 7.
- “SQUIRES RITES WILL BE HELD AT U MONDAY”; Grand Forks Herald; 17 August 1930; page 1, column 1; page 3, column 3.
- “Kane Pays High Tribute to Work Of Dean Squires: Man of Highest Character, Absolute Sincerity, U President Says.”, Grand Forks Herald, 17 August 1930, page 3, column 2.
- “A TIMELY RESCUE: A Modern Blucher: The Professor's Arrival Saved the Freshmen From Their Waterloo” (cartoon), The Weekly Student, 27 January 1906, page 1.
- Louis G. Geiger, “University of the Northern Plains” (Grand Forks: University of North Dakota Press, 1958), page 346.
- “'CONSERVATION OF CULTURE' DISCUSSED: PROF. SQUIRES SPOKE TO GOOD AUDIENCE AT CONVOCATION EXERCISES.”, The Weekly Student, 12 October 1910, page 1, column 3.
- “ANGLO SAXON IDEALS SUBJECT OF ADDRESS”, The Student, 23 November 1917, page 1.
- Geiger, page .286.
- “Dean Squires Is Rebuked by Geo. Totten”, Grand Forks Herald, 9 December 1919, page 10.
- “AMBROSE ARRAIGNED AS WRECKER OF CONCORD AND PREACHER OF HATE”, Grand Forks Herald, 20 April 1924, pages 1 & 2.
- William L. Harwood, “The Ku Klux Klan in Grand Forks, North Dakota”, South Dakota History (Pierre, SD: South Dakota State Historical Society, 1971), page 319.
- Vernon P. Squires, “A MORAL CODE FOR BOYS AND GIRLS”, The Journal of Education, Volume 88, Number 11 (September 26, 1918), pages 283-286.
- “UNIVERSITY HISTORY TO BE RECAPITULATED”; The Student; 8 February 1912; page 1, column 6; page 4, column 4.
- “SQUIRES GAVE LECTURE TO FRESHMAN CLASS”, The Student, 8 October 1915, page 3.
- “SQUIRES TELLS OF 'U' HISTORY AND PROMINENT GRADS”; Dakota Student, 15 November 1924; page 1, column 2; page 2, columns 4-5.
- William Caraher, “History at the University of North Dakota: 1885-1970” (Grand Forks, University of North Dakota, 2009)
- V. P. Squires, "Early Days at the University," The Quarterly Journal of the University of North Dakota, volume 18, number 1 (1927), pages 4-15.
- "The University of North Dakota, 1885-1887," The Quarterly Journal of the University of North Dakota, volume 18, number 2 (1928), pages 105-118.
- ''President Sprague's Administration, 1887-1891," The Quarterly Journal of the University of North Dakota”, volume 18, number 3 (1928), pages 201-230.
- "The First Quadrennium Under President Merrifield," The Quarterly Journal of the University of North Dakota, volume 18, number 4 (1928), pages 313-344.
- President Edward P. Robertson, “The Story of the Affiliation of Wesley College with the University of North Dakota” (Robertson Typescript), 16 February 1935, pages 67-69. Elwyn B. Robinson Department of Special Collections, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.
- Vernon P. Squires, “PROF. SQUIRES ON OUR NEEDS: SOME THINGS WHICH SHOULD BE DONE THIS YEAR”, The Weekly Student, 16 November 1907, page 4, columns 2-3.
- “VOTE IS STRONGLY AGAINST CHANGE IN THE COLORS”, The Weekly Student, 21 December 1907, page 1, column 5.
- “A LIFE OF SERVICE. (editorial)”, Grand Forks Herald, 17 August 1930, page 4, column 1.
- “Dean Squires Dies; Served University 33 Years: HEART ATTACK ENDS ILLNESS IN 64TH YEAR: Wife and Five of Their Six Children Home at Time: DEFER FUNERAL PLANS: Colleagues Praise Him as Outstanding in Loyalty”; Grand Forks Herald (evening edition); 16 August 1930; page 1, column 1; page 2, column 7.
- “STATE LEADERS JOIN HUNDREDS IN FINAL TRIBUTE TO SQUIRES: Educator's Body Lies in State at School He Served 33 Years.”; Grand Forks Herald (evening edition); 18 August 1930; page 1, column 2; page 5, column 3.