RICHARD ELIA 1941-2O17
Wine Publisher, Professor of English
Richard L. Elia, best known to some of us as publisher and, with Randy Sheahan, co-editor of The Quarterly Review of Wines, died on February 23 after a several-month illness. He and his wife of 47 years, Harley MacKenzie, had long resided in Winchester.
He was born in the Dorchester section of Boston to Albanian immigrant parents. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees at, respectively, Providence College, Northeastern University, and the University of Massachusetts. After a time teaching at Northeastern, Richard joined the faculty of Salem State University, where, until his final illness, he was a hugely appreciated senior professor, specializing in Victorian literature.
But he was a man of many parts. Sheahan describes him as a man from another era. A fine athlete, he continued into later life as an accomplished tennis player. In addition to playing, he wrote about sports in high school, later about English novelists. He founded the wine magazine in 1977. It grew from a flimsy newsletter to a slick, full-color magazine featuring the best-known international wine writers. Richard recognized early the explosive potential of California wine. The Quarterly Review has been sorely missed since its print edition fell victim in 2O11 to the great recession.
Richard was a founding member of the Boston Guild of Oenophilists, the charitable trusteeship that guides the Boston Wine Expo. He ran public television’s wine auction for years, and did the same to benefit Salem State.
He could be bombastic and contrary, but always with a knowing twinkle and kind heart. His standards were rigorous, and he suffered not fools gladly, yet legions of former and current students turned out for his wake and funeral.
In addition to Harley, survivors include one brother, two sisters, and eight nieces and nephews, all of whom hold him in the highest regard. If inclined to make a donation in his memory, google the Dr. Richard Elia Scholarship Fund. -HARVEY FINKEL