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Marymount Prof Dies After Being Struck by Car in D.C.

by ARLnow.com October 1, 2012 at 3:45 pm 11,614 27 Comments

(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) Rhett Leverett, a history professor at Arlington’s Marymount University, has died after being struck by a car in Northwest D.C. this morning.

Marymount president Matthew D. Shank announced Prof. Leverett’s death in an email to students this afternoon. According to various news reports, which didn’t identify Leverett as the victim, he was struck by a car around 9:00 a.m. on the 400 block of Sixth Street NW, near the Archives Metro stop.

Leverett, 60, lived in a condo one block away, according to public records. After the accident, he was transported to a local hospital, where he passed away. D.C. police are investigating the accident.

On the website RateMyProfessors.com, students described Leverett as a somewhat tough grader, but at the same time said he was fun, introduced humor into his lectures, and had a knack for making the material interesting.

“Love his lectures and [he is] a great person,” one student wrote.

“Greatest History Professor I have ever had,” said another.

Wrote another student: “Leverett is the best! He makes class interesting and fun, but he knows what he’s talking about.”

Leverett specialized in history about modern and early modern Europe, according to the Marymount website. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1975 and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama.

In his email, Shank urged students to keep Prof. Leverett and his family in their prayers.

Dear Students,

It is with great sorrow that I write to inform you that a member of our faculty, Professor Rhett Leverett, died in an accident this morning. While walking near his home in DC, Mr. Leverett was struck by a car; he was transported to George Washington University Hospital, where he passed away.

A member of our faculty since 1991, Mr. Leverett was known as an outstanding teacher and advisor. He will be remembered for many things, including his kindness, his sense of humor, and his unfailing dedication to Marymount University and our students.

We will hold a service to honor Mr. Leverett’s memory here on campus in the near future; I will inform you of the details once the arrangements have been made.

Please keep Mr. Leverett and his family in your prayers.

Matthew D. Shank

A letter from a student of Prof. Leverett’s, after the jump.

From Janine Byas, a senior history major at Marymount:

I am typing this email through a flood of tears. I’ve just been informed that my history professor, Dr. Rhett Leverett of Marymount University, was struck by a car this morning and did not survive…

He was a great man, dedicated and inspiring teacher (one of the FAVORITES at MU), and his roots in Washington D.C. run deep as a 10-year Assistant Professor of History at Marymount University and a former government employee. He leaves behind a loving little dog named, Beth, whom he adored as his own child.

Too often stories like these come up and the victim is forgotten with nary a mention of his/her contributions to the community. Leverett deserves far better than this. He was a remarkable educator: the kind of person you go on to tell your children and your grandchildren about because he was so phenomenal and truly passionate about his work and committed to his students. He loved history, and was an expert on European events, traveling regularly to France, London, and Rome to visit the living histories. He shared DC culture, current national and world events, and anecdotes from his personal and professional life to enrich the classroom dialogue. He was loud and boisterous in class, commanding attention with his shrieks of excitement as he retold histories juiciest tidbits. Just last week, he shared an account of being a guest at a charity event of the French ambassador to the US where he met the ambassador who inquired about his profession. During his formal address to all of the guests, he called upon Dr. Leverett on the spot to answer historical questions about France and US relations (How much did the United States pay for the Louisiana Purchase?!?). Leverett knew the answers and the French ambassador was so impressed, he personally thanked the professor for attending.

This man was all heart. Larger than life… As an educator, Rhett Leverett was an American hero. These few words can not begin to do him justice…

There are many students whom I know are greatly impacted by this tremendous loss. I had a class with him last semester, and this semester I was so impressed and moved by him that I was compelled to take two more: World War II/Fascism/Holocaust and History of Modern France. Next semester I was going to take another. This semester, he was going to take our evening classes to visit the WWII memorial and the Holocaust museum. In no way, could I ever have imagined that I would be memorializing him this semester.

  • … there have been WAY too many pedestrian accidents lately. this place is just nuts w/ all the terrible drivers. my gosh.

    R.I.P. professor

  • JohnB2

    That sucks. Supposedly the driver had a medical emergency but Mr. Leverett is still gone either way. RIP.

  • novasteve


  • Tabs

    RIP Prof with the sweet face.


  • DCBuff

    Wow, how sad. Now I know who was in the ambulance I saw go by this a.m. on Constitution Ave.

  • Appreciative

    Each morning when you wake up, you really never think that your time on Earth could end that day. Or someone else that you really love.

  • SMDC

    RIP. My prayers are with both families.

  • Tabs

    WAPO comments indicate he was walking his little Highland terrier, Beth, who was unhurt.

  • Sarah

    I remember that same story with the French Ambassador when I had a history class with him as an Undergraduate student.

    He was an amazing Professor.

  • Runaway Train

    Today was a somber day on campus once it was announced. Marymount stands with his family in this really difficult time. Farewell Professor Leverett, may history remember you.

    This quote seemed appropriate given the message and who wrote it – “A teacher affects eternity: he can never tell where his influence stops.” Henry Adams

  • GMo

    This is such a tragedy. Mr. Leverett was an amazing professor. He made Euro History so much fun.

    Mr. Leverett was also a supportive mentor for me during my time at Marymount – he made quite the impression on me. I had been able to keep somewhat in touch in my post-Marymount years, though it had been more than a year since I spoke with him last.

  • SHLady

    How sad. My heart goes out to this man’s family, students, and colleagues.

  • Devin

    Rhett – I had the pleasure of being able to call you a friend. You didn’t deserve to go like that. The world won’t be the same without you and your laugh.

    Rest in peace.

  • Thanks for reporting on this Arlnow. I never had Prof Leverett when I was at Marymount, but I am saddened by the school’s loss.

  • doug drabek

    When I was considering going back to school to get a master’s in history, I took a class with him at Marymount. He was a great teacher and a very kind and decent person. Students would go to him with their personal problems as well as he was just that kind of person who would listen to and help anyone. He occasionally joked he was not only a professor but a pyschologist!

    He truly had a passion for history and enjoyed teaching. I used to stay after class with him and discuss differing interpretations of thie French history…he was knowlegdeable on all the lateste scholarly works.

    He worked in the federal government for 25 years before returned to history. He had a little dog he used to keep in his office that he was devoted to.

    I hope he didn’t suffer much.


  • IRS Buddy

    Rhett — you made everyone laugh and you were always so much fun to be around. We’re all very sad about losing you but imagine that you are already making the angels laugh!

    RIP! All of your buddies at IRS will miss you much!

  • Karen

    RIP, Dr. Leverett.
    You never taught me at MU, but you and I had a few friends in common. You always made history and life so much fun!
    Everyone will miss you so much!
    RIP, my friend.

  • Charles

    You can’t be too careful… you get nailed by a semi careening out of control on the Beltway, you get hit by goons running from a drug deal, some lady has a seizure… Poo happens.

  • Matt

    I am very sad to learn about professor leverett’s death! He was one of the few professor’s I had at Marymount because he taught a lot of nights. I will say a prayer for him. He was one of the best professors I ever had. His class on comparative revolutions was one of the best classes I ever took. Would help anyone out whoever needed it and his lectures were funny monologues about history and life. His little dog Beth was named after Queen Elizabeth, one of his favorite monarchs. God bless you professor Leverett. I will never forget what you did for me.

    • Tabs

      That’s a sweet anecdote. Thank you.

  • SaharaWind

    My deepest sympathies to Mr Leverett’s friends and family. I had the pleasure of a conversation with him and his precious Beth about a year ago while having breakfast at Au Bon Pain one Saturday morning. I don’t remember the conversation but I do remember his big, warm smile. I know he will be greatly missed by his community, friends & family or anyone who had the privilege of meeting him, even if just for a moment. My heart aches for you all….See More

  • lonnell atwater

    I’m very sorry for every ones loss I am the brother of the person who hit. Mr leverett no words can express my heart felt apologie for this tragic accident my sister will never forget that day neither will I that’s something she will live with for the rest of her life.my heart goes out to friends and loved ones of Mr leverett. RIP

    • doug drabek

      Were you in the car?

  • Silas

    I knew Chuckles personally and my heart goes out to her and Mr.leverett and the student body of marymount university as well as family. She was trying to get her college degree and make something of herself. Trying to raise 2 kids & a New born and a worthless daughter father is a tragic. Chuckles, meant the world to me and she still have a place in my heart always. Right now both families are heavy hearted and people accidents can occur at any given time. The 10 years ive known her she never had a seizure. This, I think is due to abuse in the home from a person striking her. So people be aware she is also in danger of her life. Quiet as kept ! Well, GOD BLESS both families and may your pain reflect on the good times with Mr.Leverett and his college student body.


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