David Chaplin obituary

Contact: Jeanne Baron
Photo of Dr. David Chaplin.


Dr. David Chaplin, a professor emeritus of sociology at Western Michigan University, died July 27. He was 86.

Chaplin joined the WMU faculty in 1972 to serve as chair of the Department of Sociology and retired in 1992 after 20 years of service to the University.

He chaired the sociology department from 1972 to 1989. Only the second person to serve in that post, he succeeded Dr. Leonard Kercher, who founded the department in 1934. Chaplin helped guide the unit as it solidified its academic offerings and launched a new undergraduate major and doctoral specialization in criminology.

Dr. David Chaplin

While conducting research for his dissertation, Chaplin lived for two years in Peru. Many of his scholarly writings focused on that country's industrial labor force, domestic servants and family planning. His books, "The Peruvian industrial labor force," "Peruvian nationalism: A Corporatist Revolution," "Population Policies and Growth in Latin America" and "Domestic Service and Industrialism," also were influenced by his time abroad.

Chaplin served on numerous national organizations and panels and was a member of such professional groups as the American Sociological Association; American Association for the Advancement of Science; and Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters.

He served three years on the National Science Foundation's graduate fellowship committee and a year on the Executive Council of the Latin American Studies Association. Plus, he chaired a Latin American Studies Association task force that was a follow-up to President Jimmy Carter's special commission report on Foreign Languages and International Area Studies.

Before coming to WMU, Chaplin was a tenured faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and taught at Bucknell University and the University of Delaware. After retiring from WMU, the Maine native moved back to his home state.

He earned a bachelor's degree in American history from Amherst College and master's and doctoral degrees in sociology from Princeton University.


Services have taken place.


The family obituary and message book are available at obits.mlive.com/obituaries/kalamazoo. Messages to Joyce Chaplin may be mailed in care of Scott Chaplin, PO Box 374, Freeland, WA 98249 or emailed to joyce.chaplin@icloud.com.

Memorial gifts may be made to Harpswell Community Television in Maine or the Maine Historical Society.