Dr. John H. Tanton, M.D., a founder of ProEnglish, an ophthalmologist, a nationally-recognized conservationist, an author, and an essayist, died this week in Michigan. He was 85 years old.
Dr. Rosalie P. Porter, the Chair of the Board of Directors of ProEnglish, paid tribute to her longtime friend and mentor:
“John Tanton was a brilliant thinker, writer, and seer into the future. 25 years ago he believed that English, the tie that traditionally united Americans regardless of ethnicity or creed, was being gradually undermined by multilingualism. Motivated by a patriotic concern for preserving a truly ‘United States’ he founded ProEnglish with the late Bob Park, Leo Sorensen, and Gerda Bikales. Their main goal was to enact English as the official language of United States federal government operations. While he did not live to see this goal accomplished, he was deeply satisfied that over the past 25 years 32 states have enacted their own official English statutes.”
In addition to ProEnglish, Dr. Tanton also was involved in a wide range of other projects over many decades, especially those involving environmental issues. In 1975, his essay entitled “Human Migration” won the Mitchell Prize and was featured on the cover of The Ecologist.
ProEnglish offers its deepest condolences to Dr. Tanton’s devoted wife, Mary Lou, as well as to his personal family, to his wide circle of friends, and also to his even wider “family” of colleagues who labored with him on his many causes. We salute Dr. Tanton and we honor his memory. He will be greatly missed, and always remembered.