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Cremation Society of the SOUTH
595 Franklin Rd SE
Marietta, GA 30067
(770) 420-5557
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Robert Detweiler


Family-Placed Death Notice

DETWEILER, Robert Robert Detweiler died Sunday morning, August 31, 2008. He was 76 years old. Robert was born in Souderton, Pennsylvania. He earned his undergraduate degree and a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Goshen College (then Goshen Bible College). He did graduate work in religious studies and philosophy in Hamburg, Germany, and received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Florida. Robert retired, as Full Professor, from Emory University in 1996 and lived with his spouse Gertrud on St. Simon's Island, Georgia. Robert was born and raised a Mennonite and spoke often and fondly of his childhood in Pennsylvania. After college he traveled to Germany to assist in the post war rebuilding of the country. While there, he met his future wife, Gertrud Frank. Robert always loved his Mennonite tradition and its commitment to peace and justice, and nothing pleased him more than to gather with choral groups to sing old Mennonite hymns. Robert began his academic career at Florida Presbyterian College (now Eckerd College) in St. Petersburg, Florida. From Florida Presbyterian, he moved to join the faculty of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, where he was an award winning teacher and scholar, as well as one of the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts' most successful directors. His work in the areas of religion and literature was groundbreaking in the field. Robert's most recent books: Breaking the Fall: Religious Readings of Contemporary Fiction, 1987 and Uncivil Rites: American Fiction, Religion, and the Public Sphere, 1996, not only were award winning texts but also set the standard for religious and ethical conversations about works of literature. Robert was also internationally recognized for his work in literary theory as well as his work with the authors John Updike and Saul Bellow. In 1994, a group of Robert's former students and colleagues published a collection of essays in recognition of his contributions to the academy and the intellectual community: In Good Company: Essays in Honor of Robert Detweiler, David Jasper and Mark Ledbetter, editors. Robert was also professionally active on numerous committees at Emory University. He was a past President of the American Academy of Religion and was a member and past officer of the Modern Language Association. Robert won numerous Fulbright awards for research and teaching in Europe. One of the most distinguished aspects of Robert's commitment to higher education was his love for his students. Robert was passionately committed to his classroom, to assisting his students in finding jobs post graduate school, to late night conversations about art, theory, "the most recent book read" over a Guinness or a single malt scotch. Robert made each student feel as though she or he was the most interesting person he'd ever known. Robert was a gifted teacher who brought humaneness to pedagogy. An international academic community that depended on the rigors of his intellect will miss Robert Detweiler. Former students, who teach in places all about the world will miss Robert's wise counsel. And his friends and family will miss Robert's wit, his love, his compassion, and his companionship. Robert is survived by his spouse of 53 years, Gertrud Detweiler, and by his daughter Bettina Detweiler of Atlanta GA, his son Dirk Detweiler and spouse Deborah Burek of Aspen, CO, and by his grandchildren Jordan Detweiler, Kira Ciminel and Andy Blakely of Atlanta, GA and Demian Detweiler of Aspen, CO. Robert's body will be cremated and a memorial service will be held for him on Sept. 6, 10:00 am at the Canon Chapel, Emory University. Cremation Society of the SOUTH is in charge of arrangements (770) 420-5557.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from Sept. 1 to Sept. 3, 2008
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