Lost to COVID-19 | Ghanaian-born University of Akron professor hosted international students at his house every Thanksgiving

By Jennifer Pignolet | Akron Beacon Journal

Baffour Takyi knew what it was like to be far from home. The University of Akron professor was from Ghana, and he still had deep roots, including extended family, in the African nation. So every Thanksgiving, he and his wife invited Akron’s international students to their house for a meal. 

“He was an immigrant who came here to study as well, so he very much understood the loneliness,” said Damson, who is also from Ghana.

Just before Thanksgiving this year, Takyi died Nov. 18 of COVID-19. He was 64.


“The Ghanaian community in Akron has lost a kindhearted and dedicated mentor,” Damson said in a campus-wide email announcing Takyi’s death. “He offered so much to his family, friends and the African community. Thanksgiving will never be the same without him and I miss his enduring friendship already.”

The university said Takyi taught two classes this semester, both of which were online. 


“We join the Department of Sociology and the entire university in expressing our most sincere sympathy to Professor Takyi’s family and friends,” Miller said. “The university community has lost a great colleague.”

President Gary L. Miller said in the campus email that he and his wife, Georgia Nix Miller, were deeply saddened to learn of Tayki’s passing.

Takyi, who had three grown children and one grandchild, was a professor of sociology and came to Akron in 1997. 

He was beloved by his students and peers, Damson said. The family held a funeral that was livestreamed, and the program included several pages of speeches and remembrances. Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.

Family members boasted he was the first in the family to go to college, and even as a young professor, used part of his salary to further the education of others in the family. 

A tribute from Akron’s sociology department noted a sizable loss for both the faculty and students. 

“His students quickly recognized him as being not merely a thoughtful teacher but a father-figure and mentor who was most concerned with how they were doing as a person, not merely as a student,” the tribute read. “His wisdom and support will be missed by all – matched closely by how much we will miss his hearty laugh and his unique ability to cut to the heart of the matter in all things sociological and of the utmost human concern.”

One student described him as “a very compassionate, thoughtful, considerate, devoted, intelligent, selfless, and a stellar professor and dear friend who is willing to do anything humanly possible to support and assist his students.”

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“Prof’s guidance, counsel, unflappable composure, depth of knowledge, and keen insight have shaped and hone our lives,” the student wrote. 

Takyi taught undergraduate and graduate courses. His work included studies of demographic and health outcomes in Africa, family dynamics, maternal and child health, religion and reproductive outcomes, the intersection of gender and power on f8ertility decision making and the experiences of Africans and other black immigrants within the United States. null

He also previously served as director of the Pan African Studies Program from 2005-2011. 

Before coming to Akron, Takyi served as an adjunct professor in the African Studies Department at State University of New York at Albany and a policy research analyst for the New York State Department of Social Services and New York State Department of Health. 

He was born in 1956 in Ghana, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology. After teaching in Nigeria, he moved to the United States in 1983. He earned his master’s and doctorate from SUNY-Albany.

Damson said he and Takyi both had family in Canada, and took many international trips together. They were Akron’s two university professors from Ghana, and they were often seen together on campus.

“It’s going to be a lonely place for me without him,” Damson said. 

Read from source Beacon Journal