Dennis Baumwoll

The campus community mourns the passing of Dennis Baumwoll, who died on Thursday, January 14. Dennis retired in 1998 as Professor Emeritus of English after 32 years of service to Bucknell.

Dennis is remembered by his colleagues as a great talker—and a very good listener. As shared by a colleague, “he was a ‘character’ who advanced discourse (and, indeed, developed friendships) through storytelling … he did not suffer fools gladly, nor did he hide his likes and dislikes, though one had to learn how to read his twinkle and his understated, indirect irony.” He had a strong and active commitment to social justice and is remembered by generations of students and colleagues.

Included below is the complete text of the obituary, as provided by the family.

You are encouraged to visit our In Memoriam Site at bucknell.edu/InMemoriam and share personal notes of sympathy and remembrance with others.

On behalf of our entire University community, I extend our deepest sympathies to Dennis’ family, as well as to all who knew him at Bucknell.

John C. Bravman
President

_____________________________________________________________________________

Dennis Baumwoll, of Lewisburg, passed away on Thursday, January 14, 2021. He was 88 years old. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, he attended The University of Oklahoma (OU) where he received his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in English. He taught English at OU and Boston University prior to joining the faculty at Bucknell University (BU) in 1965; retiring as a full professor and Chairman of BU’s English Department in 1998.

At BU, he taught History of the English Language while acting in and directing several productions with the Cap & Dagger theatre club. The BU Wrestling Team selected him as the Faculty Wrestling Coach. He also coauthored a book about and taught English as a Second Language at Bloomsburg University. After retiring, Dennis taught literature and language courses at Bucknell’s Institute for Lifelong Learning.

Dennis was an avid civil rights activist. He traveled to witness several speeches given by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and chaperoned students who wanted to attend. This activism continued with his involvement with the Lewisburg Prison Project, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Democratic party.

In support of the local community, he volunteered during Hurricane Agnes response efforts, and served on the Lewisburg Zoning Hearing Board. For many years he read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” at Lewisburg’s annual Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony. As a Master Gardener through the Pennsylvania State University Extension Program he volunteered, lectured, and wrote for the Gardner’s Column of the local newspaper.

He was preceded in death by his sister, Roslyn Korenbaum; brother, Mortimer Baumwoll; and son Douglas Baumwoll.

Surviving are his wife of 64 years, Dorothy (Logan) Baumwoll; son, Dan Baumwoll and wife, Kerstin (Ziegler); daughter Diana Coho; daughter Dina Goeckel and husband, Gerry. Also surviving are grandchildren Marshall Baumwoll, Stanley Goeckel, and Fiona Goeckel. A proud member of the Mary Angel Family Circle, he cherished the company of cousins, nieces, nephews and extended family from fourteen states.

A memorial honoring Dennis will be held at a later date.

3 Responses to “Dennis Baumwoll”

  1. gruver says:

    Early in my career at Bucknell Dennis and I were introduced, which led to a series of get acquainted lunches. In those meetings I found Dennis to be one of the most inquisitive, thoughtful and insightful persons that I had ever met. I still feel the same way about him now 25 years later.
    Bill Gruver
    Emeritus Professor

  2. Offices of the President and Human Resources says:

    The following thoughts were shared by retired professor Greg Clingham:

    I got to know Dennis Baumwoll quite well from the time I came to Bucknell (fall 1993), but especially in the years after he retired (1998). I used to stop at their house on the way home for a beer a few times a semester, and while I always intended staying for just an “hour or so,” those visits invariably turned into marathons. Because Dennis was a great talker — and a very good listener — and one topic, one event, and one global injustice always turned into another, and each had to be fully talked out and sorted in our minds, accompanied by a lot of bad language, verbal gesticulating, and ironic laughter at the absurdity of the world. The very first time I met Dennis, at my interview in a very cold February, I realized that he was a “character,” who advanced discourse (and, indeed, developed friendships) through story telling. I loved listening to his stories about hot summer nights in the Bronx when he was a child (no A/C = they slept in the park), or about his relatives from Central Europe or Argentina, or his Jan plans in London, or about the time when he and Karl Patten had their phones tapped by the FBI because they were protesting against the Vietnam War and developing the outreach program at the Lewisburg Penitentiary. He and Karl shared a strong and active commitment to social justice. But he did not suffer fools gladly, nor did he hide his likes and dislikes, though one had to learn how to read his twinkle and his understated, indirect irony. Indeed, Dennis was not an easy man nor a transparent one, but if one could get through the crustiness (and, in my early days, the smoke) — as some students and some colleagues did — it was possible to discover someone real who became your friend.

  3. lv006 says:

    Among his many accolades, the people of downtown Lewisburg will cherish the memory of his deep and emotive voice capturing the magic of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” at the annual tree lighting ceremony. “…and to all a good night.”

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