Dr. Pleshette DeArmitt, chair of the University of Memphis Department of Philosophy, who passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, was a notable academic and engaging, attentive mentor and colleague according to members of the university community.
“Pleshette had a gift in bringing incommensurable positions into conversation,” said Sarah Marshall, a university graduate student and friend of DeArmitt. “This was something she did in her academic writing, in her role as chair of the philosophy department, and in her generous attention to the lives and concerns of those she cared about; fostering dialogue among diverse perspectives was a principled passion to which she remained committed.”
DeArmitt’s passing was announced Tuesday, by the philosophy department, and quickly gained national notice among her peers in philosophy.
University graduate Alex Da Ponte has worked for DeArmitt’s family for seven years as a nanny to her daughter, Seraphine. Da Ponte says the impact of DeArmitt’s passing continues to ripple internationally.
“It has been absolutely incredible to see how many lives Pleshette touched,” said Da Ponte, adding that she and DeArmitt’s husband, Kas Saghafi, are receiving messages from all over the world from people who knew DeArmitt. “ Each person comes with a story of how much Pleshette meant to them or inspired them,” said Da Ponte. “People aren't just coming forward because she was brilliant, they are coming forward because she was beloved.”
DeArmitt was born in Tarentum, Pennsylvania to Delores and Clyde DeArmitt. She had joined the University in 2006, and served as the chair since 2013. DeArmitt was the 2010 recipient of the American Post-doctoral Research Fellowship, awarded by the American Association of University Women. Her research interests included contemporary continental philosophy, feminist theory, psychoanalysis, and social and political thought.
DeArmitt is survived by her husband of 25 years, Kas Saghafi, who is also an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Memphis, and her daughter Seraphine. The family is asking that any memorials made in DeArmitt’s name be sent to LeBonheur Children’s Hospital.