Obituary – David Gaffney Sansing, Sr.

Published 3:55 pm Monday, July 8, 2019

Dr. David Gaffney Sansing, Sr., 86, died Saturday, July 6, 2019, at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.  A memorial service will be held Wednesday, July 10, 2019, at 4 p.m. at Paris Yates Chapel, University of Mississippi, with Rev. Don Gann officiating. Visitation will be Tuesday, July 9, 2019, from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. in West Hall at Waller Funeral Home.  A private graveside service will be held in Oxford Memorial Cemetery.

 David Sansing’s life spanned the Great Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, Disco, the Technology Revolution, and an American stepping foot on the Moon… and so much more.  He often talked about how exciting being an American was.  As a life-long Mississippian, he was proud of the strides that his home state, a state he dearly loved, made to improve the lives of all her people, and at the same time he taught and talked honestly about its shortcomings. 

Born in Greenville, Miss., on June 15, 1933, he was part of a large and loving family.  He had four brothers and four sisters.  The siblings grew up, had families of their own, and, later in their lives, many of them took vacations together and rekindled a deep love for one another. The love among these brothers and sisters has been handed down to more cousins than we can count.

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 After two years in the Army from 1951-53, he turned his attention to pursing his dream of teaching.  But first he made the best decision in his life: he married Elizabeth Hawkins of Columbus, who was a recent graduate of The W, known then as Mississippi State College for Women and now as Mississippi University for Women.  Lib and David began a family with David, Jr., in 1956 and twins Beth and Perry in 1958. 

 David received his bachelor’s (1956) and master’s (1959) degrees from Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss.  Among his most meaningful memories was when the Order of the Golden Arrow honored him at Mississippi College in 2011.

 David began his teaching career in 1960 at a junior college in Perkinston, a little hamlet 30 miles north of the Gulf Coast.  Now known as Gulf Coast Community College, he created friendships there that lasted a lifetime. He earned his Ph.D. in History at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1969 and received it shortly before Hurricane Camille slammed into the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Soon after, he accepted a position at the University of Mississippi.  He first saw Oxford and Ole Miss as a high school student; even then, he dreamed of teaching at Ole Miss. 

From 1970 to 1994, he taught at Ole Miss.  Teaching history classes and writing books and textbooks was hardly work for him, although it was hard work.  He enjoyed teaching his students at Ole Miss about the Old South and the New South.  One Fall semester, he ended his Old South class by telling the students he would not be teaching the New South class in the Spring.  A student quickly asked, “How will we know what happened?”  But all who knew David Sansing knew his favorite class was Mississippi History.  He brought the state’s history to life for his students. 

Perhaps there is no better example than in 1972 when David invited James Meredith to talk to his Mississippi History class.  The visit was Mr. Meredith’s first trip to Ole Miss since he integrated the University in 1962.  After class the two of them, along with some students and David’s two sons, walked around the Ole Miss campus.  Mr. Meredith and David remained friends through the years, and they enjoyed tailgating together from time to time in the Circle during football season.  

Recognized and respected as a professor and a writer, David’s true purpose in life was being a husband, father, grandfather, and friend. Coming from the opposite ends of Highway 82, he and Lib were married for 64 years.  They met at the Baptist Church in Bruce, Miss.  Their love for each other served as an endearing model for their children.  Beginning in 1984, they were blessed with the first of five grandchildren; Cherish Marie Sansing, Mary Love McLarty, Kimberly Sansing Molteni, Michael McLarty and Elizabeth Sansing Eaves, who brought immeasurable joy to their Granddaddy and Grandmama. 

 In addition to his wife and grandchildren, Dr. Sansing is survived by a daughter, Beth McLarty, and her husband, John of Jackson, Miss.; two sons, David G. Sansing, Jr. and his wife, Cindy, of Canton, Miss., and Perry Sansing, and his wife, Jeannie, of Oxford, Miss.; a sister, Margaret Waits. of Lafayette, La.; and a brother, Bob Sansing, of Lebanon, Tenn.

 He was preceded in death by three sisters, Jane Buchanan, Mary Louise Jennings, and Laura Mae Lundy; and three brothers, Tom Sansing, John Sansing and Jim Sansing.

 Memorial contributions in Dr. Sansing’s memory may be made to The University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655. For additional information or to leave an online condolence, please call 662.234.7971 or visit