In Memoriam

Charles Maurer

issue 01 | spring 2021
Charles Maurer

As director of libraries at Denison until his retirement in 1991, Charles Maurer oversaw a period of significant change and growth. The computerization of the card catalogue happened during his tenure, as well as the expansion of the William Howard Doane Library with the addition of the Seeley G. Mudd Learning Center. Charles was active in his field and well respected by his peers. In 1988, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Academic Library Association of Ohio, and he served as an Ohio delegate to the National Users Council of Online Computer Library Catalog.

He made deep friendships at Denison, including with Professor of Music Frank Belino, who also served as conductor of the Licking County Symphony Orchestra, which Maurer championed as a trustee and board member. “My father was a huge connoisseur of classical music and especially opera,” says son James ’87. He loved the music of Wagner, and in 1983, took a sabbatical to coordinate a symposium on Wagner held on campus. In a moment that lives on in Denison lore, Charles played a Wagner piece on the piano during a small fundraiser for the orchestra, accompanied by his beagle Isaac, who brayed along to the music.

Charles loved learning for the sake of learning and sharing his knowledge. Before coming to Denison in 1971, the Oak Park, Illinois, native earned a number of degrees, including a bachelor’s degree in German language and literature from the University of Michigan in 1954. He spent three years in the Navy and then enrolled at Northwestern University, where he acquired a master’s degree in 1958 and a doctorate in 1965. He taught at the University of Munich, the University of Illinois, and Lawrence University before returning to the University of Michigan to teach while earning an AMLS degree in 1970. His dissertation, Call to Revolution: The Mystical Anarchism of Gustav Landauer, was published by Wayne State University Press in 1971. Even in his retirement, says James, “he would decide that there was something he wanted to learn about, and he would just dive in.” That included learning Italian and studying navigation—especially via the sun and stars—possibly inspired by his naval experience. His librarian ethos was evident in his parenting style, recalls his son. “He would say to me, ‘James, it’s not what you know, it’s what you can look up.’”

After wife Marjorie became ill with cancer in the early 2000s, the couple moved from their longtime home in Granville to Michigan. Marjorie passed away in 2003, and Charles remained in Michigan until his death on January 11, 2021. He is survived by his son James, daughter-in-law Jill, and three grandchildren, Katherine, Samantha, and Jedediah.

Published August 2021
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