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Professor Franz Langhammer passes away
Author: Victor C. Dahl
Posted: April 15, 2013

In Memoriam: Franz Langhammer (1925 - 2013)

Emeritus Professor of German Franz Langhammer, died at his Salem home on February 18, 2013, after an extended illness.

Professor Langhammer devoted his life to a long, effective teaching career, beginning as a teaching assistant at Northwestern (1950-52) followed by an instructor appointment (1955-56) in German and French at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He next served as assistant professor at the University of Oregon (1956-1960), which led to participating with the original faculty of Portland State's Deutsche Sommerschule Am Pazifik in 1957, an academic connection that he maintained for a half century.

In 1960, Dr. Langhammer joined PSU’s Department of Foreign Languages as an assistant professor and during the ensuing decades he carried out a distinguished career as a scholar devoted to German language and culture. He was especially devoted to teaching 19th century Germany poetry. The energetic, intellectually-encouraging climate that he fostered in highly popular classes at all levels attracted large enrollments. His course offerings contributed significantly to generating interest in language and area studies on campus and in study-abroad programs as the University strengthened its international curricular dimension during the decades after 1960.

At the 1984 opening of the Deutsche Sommerschule, the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany awarded Professor Langhammer the Verdienstkreutz (service cross), that nation’s highest civilian honor, in recognition of his life-long work promoting German language instruction and culture. His exemplary career reflected highly favorably on the University and we owe him a debt of gratitude for his devotion to our academic mission.

Professor Langhammer was born January 19, 1925, in Emden, Germany, and attended public schools until his late teenage years when he was conscripted for military service. Near the end of World War II he underwent Luftwaffe pilot training prior to his capture by the United States Army in May 1945, at the Elbe River. His first experience with the United States began while he was a prisoner of war.

West Germany’s post-war reconstruction environment posed severe obstacles to furthering higher education. Even so, Professor Langhammer earned a Diploma at Aachen’s Deutsche Journalistenschule (German Journalism School) in 1947, before going on to university studies at institutions in Hamburg (1947-49) and Zurich in Switzerland (1949-50). After admission to graduate studies with scholarship support (1950) at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, he completed an MA (1952) in speech and a PhD (1956) in German literature. In 1954-55 he pursued additional graduate studies at the University of Paris.

In 1962, Professor Langhammer married Sandra Dolores Wheeler, who graduated from PSU and carried out graduate studies at the University of Oregon. They divorced in 1973. Their son, Marc, and grandchildren, Hannah, Kai, and Ren survive him, as does his brother, Egon who lives in Marengo, Illinois. His daughter, Monica, predeceased him.

Victor C. Dahl, Emeritus Professor of History, April 2, 2013