John died April 9, 2021, in Champaign, Ill., after a long battle with cancer. He was 74 years old. 

John grew up in Emporia, Va., earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Virginia in 1969, and a Ph.D. in history from Princeton in 1973. At Princeton he was a jovial friend to many fellow graduate students and a founding member of “le beau monde,” a private eating club devoted as much to the arts and as little to sports as possible. John’s doctoral dissertation, “The Parish Clergy under the Later Stuarts,” was published in 1978.

John taught American history at the University of Illinois from 1973 to 2002. He urged students to challenge the shibboleths and clichés about American history and reach their own conclusions based on their readings and their own sensibilities. 

John’s parents, Anne Weaver and Cato Pruett, were descendants of the founding families of Emporia, and he had a deep affection for Southern manners and history. He was not especially religious and once commented that his Bible was Gone With the Wind. 

John is survived by his longtime partner, Kent Adams; his sister, Lane Jacobsen; nephew Eric; and niece Lindsay.

Graduate alumni memorials are prepared by the APGA.

Graduate Class of 1973