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Historians and Teachers of History Lost in 2015

Don Yoder Corinne Earnestw

Don Yoder (1921-2015) with authors Corinne P. Earnest and Patricia Suter*

The people at Passed Time were sorry to hear about the passing of our friend, Don Yoder, who died of natural causes at his home in Devon, Pennsylvania, on August 11, 2015. As many students of Pennsylvania German culture and history know, Don published seventeen books and countless articles that remain valuable resources for researchers and the general public wanting to know about Pennsylvania German families and the culture.
Together with his cousin, William Woys Weaver, Don assembled the Roughwood Collection of Pennsylvania German broadsides and ephemera. Much of this collection went to the Library Company of Philadelphia. Don’s extensive genealogy correspondence (now at the Earnest Archives and Library) indicated he began studies of Pennsylvania German families about 1942.
Don co-founded the Pennsylvania Folklife Center in 1949, and helped found the Center for American Folklife at the Library of Congress. In addition, he mentored many students of Pennsylvania German culture including its oral and print history, literary art, folk medicine, and various Christian denominations.
On a personal note, we hoped to introduce Don to Eric Suter, who then (2009) worked at the Earnest Archives and Library. Much to our disappointment, Eric picked that time to get appendicitis, and missed what turned out to be his only opportunity to meet Don.
As happens to many, we all miss opportunities to meet someone who might have influenced  our lives. We are therefore thankful for the many books and articles published by those, such as Don, willing to record and share their knowledge, experiences, and thoughts. He was not only a mentor, but also a friend. 
Others have slipped quietly from our lives as well, such as Patricia Roppel (April 5, 1938 – January 6, 2015). Roppel was an American author and educator. Born Patricia Snowden, she moved to Alaska in 1959 after receiving her degree from Oregon State University. Roppel published many books and articles throughout her career. Much of her work focused on Southeast Alaska, its people, and its industry.
Her family intends to go through Roppel's vast research and donate it to the Alaska State Library's Historical Collections. For more about Roppel's life and passions read, Remembering Pat Roppel by Mary Catharine Martin.

Mitsuo Nitta will be sorely missed by all who knew him, especially in the book collecting community. His enthusiasm for antiquarian books and efforts in promoting bookselling made significant inroads in Asian markets. More importantly, his enthusiasm influenced many-- even those from other generations. The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) set up a book of condolence to honor his memory. Mitsuo Nitta--Book of Condolence.

With the passing of Franklin Victor Spellman (1945-2015) the antiquarian book world lost another champion. For a touching tribute and Spellman's great advice (But, buying's such a harmless vice) read An Obituary by Spellman's friend Jeff Weber. 

 Lisa Jardine, professor of Renaissance studies at University College London lost her battle with cancer this year. In addition to her many dipolmas, she knew eight languages, "modern and ancient," and served in various museums and  institutions.  Kevin Rawlinson wrote about this remarkable woman for The Guardian. See  "Renowned historian Lisa Jardine."

Another influential Renaissance historian, Professor Emeritus of University of Arizona Donald Weinstein, passed. Weinstein was not only a scholar, but an army veteran who was awarded the Bronze Star after serving his country in World War II. Yale University Press, just this summer, published The Duke’s Assassin: Exile and Death of Lorenzino de’ Medici. See William Grimes article, "Donald Weinstein, Influential Historian on the Renaissance, Dies at 89."

Another great was lost with the passing of historian and author, David Cesarani. He was considered a scholar of contemporary Jewish history. He is probably best-known for his book, Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes, and Trial of a ‘Desk Murderer. For more read "David Cesarani, Holocaust Historian and Eichmann Biographer, Dies at 58" by Margalit Fox.

James Ponce was an American military veteran and historian. Ponce, known for his love of The Breakers Palm Beach Hotel, died this week at age 98. His love of history was reflected in the tours he gave in and around the hotel including walking tours of Worth Avenue. As his sister states, "He didn't have a degree in history, but he made a historian of himself by studying, and by caring." For more about James Ponce read, "Breakers Historian James Ponce Dies at 98" by Lisa J. Huriash for the SunSentinel.

Atlanta lost associate professor and historian Cliff Kuhn. Kuhn was a living library who gathered stories about Atlanta and its population. He made local appearances on television and radio shows and unsurprisingly, gave tours of his beloved city. He was just as interested in the lesser-known people of the state as those who garnered fame. For more information about Kuhn read Thomas Wheatley's "Cliff Kuhn, local historian who gathered Atlantans' tales and stories, has died."

Passed Time wants to pay tribute those who commit themselves to history. All of their contributions are valuable. Those who held vaunted positions and those like Heinrich Schliemann, the renowned discoverer of Troy, who dedicate their lives and passion to keep history alive for future generations. Thank you. You will be missed. 

*Photograph Courtesy of Private Collection






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