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William Henry Harbaugh

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HARBAUGH, William Henry William Henry Harbaugh, who taught for ten years at UConn during the 1940s and 1950s, died Thursday, (April 28, 2005) at his home in Virginia, at 85 years of age. His initial career plans did not include academics. After high school in Newark, he signed a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, but to his father's relief was dropped five weeks into spring training. He then went to the University of Alabama to play baseball and study journalism. After graduation in 1942, he went to Europe with the U.S. Army. Captain of Battery "A", 62nd AAA Gun Battalion, he fought across North Africa, through Sicily, Southern France, and up into the region of Germany from which his ancestors had emigrated in the 1730s. He would tell his children that his experiences in the war convinced him that "Harbaugh, you are an ignorant man." The day after disembarking in New York he applied in person, and in uniform, for admission to the Master's history program at Columbia University. He was admitted on the spot, and he always assumed that his Captain's uniform and Croix de Guerre outweighed his undistinguished undergraduate record. A year later he was hired to teach American history to veterans at the newly established Fort Trumbull branch of the University of Connecticut, in New London. He taught there for three years, leaving to enter the Ph.D. program at Northwestern. Harbaugh returned to UConn in 1953 at Storrs, where he taught seven years and served as the faculty adviser for the Young Democrats. On leave, he was a senior fellow at the Yale Law School, then resigned from UConn and spent a year at Rutgers. He taught four years at Bucknell, and 24 years at the University of Virginia. His experiences in the war and his training as a historian fueled his active opposition to the war in Vietnam. Professor Harbaugh greatly enjoyed teaching undergraduates as well as graduates. His 1961 book Power and Responsibility was for many years the standard biography of Theodore Roosevelt. His biography of John W. Davis, Lawyer's Lawyer, was a finalist for the 1973 National Book Award and a runner-up for a Pulitzer. The Theodore Roosevelt Association awarded him their Distinguished Service Medal in 2005. His wife of 52 years, Virginia Wayne Talbot, survives him, as do a daughter and two sons, Emelyn Hartridge Harbaugh of Charlottesville, William Talbot Harbaugh of Eugene, OR. and Henry Richmond Harbaugh of Bloomington, IN. For 40 years he and his family returned to the village of Chaplin near Storrs. In July, a memorial service will be held at the Unitarian Church in Brooklyn. Details will be posted at http://harbaugh.org/WHH/.

Published in The Hartford Courant on May 1, 2005
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