Michael Bayton, 54, professor of English at Morgan State

April 21, 2004|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Michael D. Bayton, a longtime professor of English at Morgan State University, died of a brain tumor April 14 at Joseph Richey Hospice. The Northwest Baltimore resident was 54.

"We used to call him the young Dr. Bayton, the learned doctor. When he returned to Morgan, he brought a new vitality and vigor to the department and stimulated others to get their Ph.D.s," said Burney J. Hollis, dean of Morgan's College of Liberal Arts.

Dr. Bayton was born in Baltimore and raised in Cherry Hill, one of seven children. He was a 1966 graduate of Forest Park High School and earned a bachelor's degree in English from Morgan in 1971. He studied in Germany for a year with a Fulbright scholarship.

At Northwestern University, he earned a master's degree in English in 1973 and his doctorate in 1977.

Dr. Bayton, whose specialty was 19th-century American literature, returned to Baltimore in 1977 and became a mainstay of Morgan's English department until his death.

"He was an excellent role model for the students and a very demanding teacher," Dr. Hollis said. "He was quite a force in the classroom. He could light up the eyes of students and filled the classroom with joy."

Dr. Bayton was also interested in popular culture and Edgar Allan Poe, and did critical studies of film adaptations of his work.

"What Michael brought to his students was that sense of art, always on the edge of the new," said Thomas Cripps, retired Morgan professor of American history. "Central to his teaching was a sense that American pop culture -- both the written word and visual image -- were worthy of deep study."

In the early 1980s, Dr. Bayton wrote several articles for Metropolitan Magazine, including "Druid Hill Park and Summer Pleasure," "Unhappy at the Happy Hour," and a six-part series on black juveniles and crime in Baltimore.

For a number of years, he taught inmates at the city jail, family members said.

A funeral Mass was offered Monday at St. Cecilia Roman Catholic Church.

Survivors include his mother, Joan Beverly Bayton of Baltimore; three brothers, William A. Bayton of Amityville, N.Y., and Bruce R. Bayton and Lance M. Bayton, both of Baltimore; and two sisters, Michele Bayton-Noel and Gaystella E. Armstead, both of Baltimore.

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