School 09

Arthur Bourgeois

November 7, 1940 ~ March 2, 2021 (age 80)

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Arthur P. Bourgeois, scholar and professor of art history, passed away at his home in Frankfort, IL on March 2, 2021 surrounded by his loving family.  The cause was pancreatic cancer.

He was born on Nov. 7, 1940, the oldest child of Eleanor (Cyr) Bourgeois and Paul A. Bourgeois in Marquette, MI.

He is survived by his wife Marilyn (Jones), a son Paul Joseph (Eden), a daughter Jeanne Marie (Stephen Swanson), three grandchildren, Evan Richard Bourgeois, Luke Joseph Bourgeois and Roslyn Delphine Swanson, a sister Mary (Denis) Skoglund, a brother Richard (Kathleen) Bourgeois, a nephew, three nieces and numerous cousins.

Growing up on the shores of Lake Superior he became interested at a young age in the history and geology of the region, an interest which remained strong throughout his life.  The Native Americans of the Great Lakes also held a particular fascination for him, evident in his publication of Ojibwa folktales.  

Upon graduation from Bishop Baraga High School, Marquette, MI, he joined the Jesuit order, leaving the order in 1972.

Dr. Bourgeois held B.A. and M.A. degrees in humanities from Wayne State University, and a Ph.D. in African/Pre-Columbian/Oceanic art with a minor in medieval art from Indiana University.  It was at Indiana University that he became acquainted with Marilyn Ann Jones who was completing a masters degree in piano performance.   They were married in 1974.

Dr. Bourgeois was University Professor of Art History at Governors State University, University Park, IL from 1977 to 2012.  Upon his retirement he was awarded the status of Professor Emeritus.  He taught courses in non-western art, namely African, Native American, Pre-Columbian, Oceanic and Asian contexts where art is viewed in a cultural matrix of ceremony, religion and mythic narrative.  His primary research interests were in African art of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, specifically of the Yaka, Suku, and their neighbors, among whom he conducted his doctoral research.  He will be remembered by his many students and colleagues as a dedicated and innovative teacher and an internationally recognized expert in his field.  He is the author of 6 books and more than 30 articles in professional journals, and lectured widely throughout the United States.

Dr. Bourgeois organized and curated numerous exhibits at Governors State University and at Tall Grass Arts Association, Park Forest, IL.  An upcoming exhibit at Queensborough Community College, “Art of the Yaka and Suku” contains significant pieces from his collection and archives.  He also provided written commentary for an upcoming exhibit at the Quai Branly Museum, Paris, France.

He had a broad range of interests, and topics he was ever ready to discuss.  He enjoyed traveling and visiting sites of historical interest.  As an artist he was an accomplished painter.  He also enjoyed projects at his workbench, and was an avid gardener.   Sharing his interests with his children and grandchildren, while enthusiastically embracing their interests, was the joy of his life.  Frequent family outings to museums and other cultural attractions as well as hiking and canoeing were enjoyed by all.

As a parishioner at St. Irenaeus Church he took part in Lenten discussion groups and assisted in organizing workshops for the liturgy committee.

In addition to St. Irenaeus Church, Dr. Bourgeois was an active member of Tall Grass Arts Association, South Suburban Archaeological Society, and Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituallity.  He and his wife enjoyed attending concerts and in particular are supporters of the South Holland Master Chorale and the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra.

In lieu of flowers contributions to the  Tall Grass Arts Association, South Suburban Archaeological Society,  Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituallity, South Holland Master Chorale and the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra would be appreciated. 

Service information is pending


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Park Forest, IL 60466-1419

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