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Furia, Philip, 1943-2019



  • Existence: 1943 November 15 - 2019 April 3


Philip George Furia was born November 15, 1943 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Ethel Rose Szilagyi Furia and Philip Andrew Furia. He grew up in West Mifflin, a suburb of Pittsburgh, next to Kennywood Park, an amusement park where he worked as a barker during his high school years.

In 1961, Phil graduated from Duquesne High School in Pittsburgh and attended Oberlin College in Ohio, majoring in English. Following his graduation from Oberlin in 1965, he attended the University of Chicago, receiving his Master of Arts in English in 1966. Phil then attended the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop where he received his Master of Fine Arts and his PhD from the University of Iowa in 1970.

Upon receiving his degree, Phil started teaching at the University of Minnesota's Department of English. In 1995, he became Interim Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences for Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In 1996, he left the University of Minnesota where he had been the Department Chair, Assistant Chair, Director of Undergraduate Studies, and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs of the College of Liberal Arts.

He left the University of Minnesota to become the Chair of the Department of English at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 1996. During his tenure there, he was also the Director of the Film Studies Program, Chair of the Department of Creative Writing, and Interim Chair of the Department of Theatre. Most recently, he was a professor in the Department of Creative Writing. He also presented a weeknight segment on Wilmington’s public radio, WHQR, called "The Great American Songbook with Philip Furia" and did interviews with Terry Gross (Fresh Air) and Larry King. Phil wrote and performed many shows to benefit WHQR and the Wilmington Jazz Society and in Minneapolis performed shows with his friend, Les Block, to be benefit the Minneapolis Jewish Community Center.

Phil is best known for his appearances and contributions on the great American songbook. His publications include:

Pound's Cantos Declassified (1984); The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of America's Great Lyricists (1992); Ira Gershwin: The Art of the Lyricist (1996); Irving Berlin: A Life in Song (1997); Skylark: The Life and Times of Johnny Mercer (2004); America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley (2006), with Michael Lasser, host of Peabody Award-winning public radio program Fascinatin’ Rhythm; The Songs of Hollywood, with Laurie J. Patterson (2010); The American Song Book: The Tin Pan Alley Era, with Laurie J. Patterson (2015).

Some recognitions that Phil is received include his Faculty Scholarship Award (University of North Carolina Wilmington, 2006); Key to the City of Savannah, presented by Mayor Floyd Adams for Skylark: The Life and Times of Johnny Mercer, 2003); Scholar of the College (University of Minnesota, 1991-94); Distinguished Teaching Award (University of Minnesota, College of Continuing Education and Extension, 1989); and a recipient of a Fulbright Professorship (University of Graz (Austria), 1982-83).

Phil married Laurie Patterson and the couple had one daughter. Phil Furia died on April 3, 2019 in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Phil Furia Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: SC-MS-377
Scope and Contents

This collection contains Professor Furia's teaching documents and records, event and review materials, writings, books, VHS tapes, CDs, and a reel-to-reel tape related to his work at UNCW in the Creative Writing, English, and Theatre departments.

Dates: 1982-2018