Samuel Atkins, professor emeritus of classics at Princeton University, died March 20 at the age of 91 in California. Atkins, who served on Princeton's faculty since 1937, died of congestive heart failure.
The emeritus Professor of Classics on the Andrew Fleming West Foundation, Atkins was an expert in Vedic philology and Indo-European linguistics. He served as chair of the classics department from 1961 to 1972. His areas of interest included Hellenistic literature, Greek and literary criticism of Greek and Latin texts, and he also taught Sanskrit in the East Asian studies department.
Born in Madison, N.J., Atkins attended Princeton as an undergraduate and was awarded the George Wood Legacy Prize, presented for academic excellence during the junior year. He graduated in 1931, and went on to earn a Ph.D. degree from Princeton in Oriental studies in 1935.
After spending two years as an assistant professor at Baylor University, Atkins returned to Princeton as an instructor in 1937. His teaching career was interrupted twice by wartime duty with the Armed Forces. From March 1942 until June 1946, he was a communications specialist with the Navy and returned to civilian life with the rank of lieutenant commander. With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 he was recalled by the Navy and served for 17 months. He was appointed Professor of Classics on the Andrew Fleming West Foundation in 1962.
Atkins published "Pusan in the Rig-Veda" in 1941. He also was a regular contributor of reviews and articles to the Journal of the American Oriental Society, Language, Classical Weekly and the Journal of English and Germanic Philology.
In 1959, Atkins spent a year in Thailand as a Fulbright Research Scholar studying the application of the principles of modern linguistics to the teaching of English as a second language. He was active in the American Philological Association, heading the organization's Committee on Educational Training and Trends.
Atkins transferred to emeritus status in 1978 and subsequently moved to Pomona, Calif. He is survived by his wife, Jeannette; his three children, Samuel Atkins Jr., Bowman Atkins and Pamela Ibrahim, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601