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In Memoriam: Ernst S. Dick (1929-2014) Professor Emeritus Ernst S. Dick died peacefully at his home in Lawrence on March 11, 2014. Born April 7, 1929 in East Prussia, Ernst, together with half of his family, survived the horrific “Trek” to the West in 1945. At the University of Münster, he studied under the renowned philologists, Karl Schneider and Jost Trier, receiving his Dr. phil. “summa cum laude” in 1961. The “stations” of Ernst’s academic career included the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Montana, the University of Virginia, and the University of Wisconsin. He joined the faculty of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Kansas in 1968. His courses and seminars on topics ranging from Old High German, Middle High German, Gothic, Old Saxon, Arthurian Romance, Heroic Epic, Spielmannsepik, to the Novelle, Germanic Mythology, Idiomatic Expressions, and Friedrich Dürrenmatt never wanted for participants – on the contrary! Despite his scholarly brilliance, Ernst was a remarkably modest man, and it is unlikely that he would have desired more than just a few lines, if that, about himself in an epitaph. He might well have agreed with Martin Heidegger’s remark that the most important aspects of a biography (in this case, of Aristotle) could be summed up in the laconic formulation that he “was born, lived, and died.” Scores of former students, colleagues, and friends, however, can provide eloquent testimony to the way in which Ernst Dick lived, to his dedication to medieval Germanistik and his erudition, to the effect he had on their lives in more than four decades as a teacher and scholar, as well as to his professionalism and integrity, and the high respect he enjoyed among his peers in the academic world. His guidance of a Medieval Studies Group in the early Seventies was only one of many examples of the time and effort he devoted to his students outside the classroom. Whether they elected to specialize in Medieval German Literature, or simply participate in his seminars, Ernst’s students were drawn by his infectious enthusiasm, his dedication to his charges, and his profound erudition, complemented by his superb and lucid presentations. Ernst extended his assistance, and his mentoring, to younger colleagues beyond the University of Kansas. He was a stranger to none in his discipline at the annual Medieval Congress held each May in Kalamazoo, Michigan. When the news of his death had spread, former students and colleagues responded with comments such as “a model mentor,” “a most cherished colleague,” “a great human being,” “modest, disinclined to draw attention to himself,” “indeed someone special.” We are, as one former student stated, “deeply, deeply saddened” by the news of Ernst’s death. We are consoled, however, by the realization that his life was an incredibly full one, that he touched so many people through his selflessness and his dedication to his students, his profession, and his family. 10

He was my mentor, my adviser, my friend. When Ernst arrived on the KU campus in Fall, 1968, I had already decided to pursue a Ph.D. in History upon completion of the M.A. After one semester of courses with Ernst, I withdrew all of my applications to other departments, and from that time on, never left “Germanistische Mediävistik.” Once again, I find myself reading— studying—his “AE Dryht und seine Sippe. Eine wortkundliche, kultur- und religionsgeschichtliche Betrachtung zur altgermanischen Glaubensvorstellung vom wachstümlichen Heil.” A brilliant work of scholarship by a man to whom I owe whatever I have achieved in my career. Carl G. Jung once stated: “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.” Ernst was such a person and it is as such that he will be fondly remembered by all who were fortunate enough to have known him. Winder McConnell Professor Emeritus University of California-Davis

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Newsletter of the Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures, University of Kansas, Spring 2014 (ed. by Prof. William Keel)

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