Walter G. Andrews
1939 - 2020
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Walter G. Andrews

Walter Andrews was born in Pittsburg Pennsylvania on May 23, 1939 to Louise Seeger Andrews and Walter G. Andrews, Sr. He died from cancer on May 31, 2020.

Walter grew up in the outskirts of Saint Paul, Minnesota and graduated from the Saint Paul Academy in 1957. He graduated in 1961 from Carleton College in Northfield Minnesota with a major in English. At Carleton he met and married Melinda Kohler, the love of his life. After college Walter and Melinda traveled to Istanbul Turkey, where Walter became interested in Turkish language and culture. He went on to the University of Michigan where he earned an MA in English and a PhD in Turkish Language and Literature.

Walter and Melinda came to Bellevue, Washington in 1968 to begin his life-long career at the University of Washington, where he was a founding member of the Near East Language and Culture (NELC) department. As Professor Emeritus, he continued to actively teach and do research until days before he died.

Walter was a leading scholar in the field of Ottoman Turkish Literature and published widely. In the words of his colleague Selim Kuru "Walter reintroduced Ottoman Turkish poetry into the larger fields of literature and history. These works were the first major English language commentaries on Ottoman literary tradition published in more than 60 years."

In 2006 Walter received The Lighthouse Award by the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan. The award reads "This alumnus has demonstrated years of dedication to the field of Near Eastern Studies. His work in furthering the field has been substantial and original. He has helped shape the scholarly community and shines as one of its brightest members."

He was a beloved teacher and mentor, receiving the Middle Eastern Studies Association Mentoring Award in 2008 and an Undergraduate Research Mentor Award at the University of Washington in 2018.

Walter was an innovator in the field of digital humanities beginning with the Ottoman Text Archive Project in the early 1980's and continuing with his recent work in the Newbook Digital Texts division of the NELC department. He collaborated with several other scholars using digital techniques to study the works of Baki, a famous Ottoman poet.

Walter received an Order of Merit of the Republic of Turkey in 2016, and a Long Time Service Award from the Turkish American Cultural Association (TACAWA) in the same year for his services in promotion of Turkish and Ottoman culture and literature.

Walter was an active and dedicated member of East Shore Unitarian Church where his lay ministry was dedicated to nurturing young people for over 50 years. Walter engaged children and youth through song, story, and plays. He wrote many plays and developed curriculum introducing children to Bible stories that affirmed Unitarian Universalist values. Walter embodied the best of what it means to be a UU: humility, grace, a fierce love of the faith and an understanding that our job here is to make the world better for our children and grandchildren.

Walter loved children, loved to play, and was in constant motion. If he wasn't in the woods leading a group of kids on a scavenger hunt, he was on the golf course or tennis court, running, riding, hiking, and generally making mischief with a twinkle in his eye. He was a gifted athlete, a talented poet, an amateur flutist, a skilled woodworker, a loyal friend to many, and a loving family man.

He is survived by his wife and dedicated partner of 60 years, Melinda, daughters Lisa Stilwell and Pam Sheffield, sons-in-law Mike Stilwell and Harley Sheffield, grandchildren Kristin Rossman, Madeline Machotka, and Max Sheffield, grandsons-in-law Mike Rossman and Satoshi Yamamoto, great-grandson Royce Andrews Rossman, brother Jim Andrews, and sister Martha Andrews.

We close with a stanza of Walter's poetry:

I would speak of death

to you, and mean

Of you, and love,

And life.

There will be a virtual memorial service on Saturday July 11, at 10 am Seattle time. To register for the service, visit the East Shore Unitarian Church webpage (

Memorial gifts can be made to Hopelink, Planned Parenthood, the Equal Justice Initiative, or East Shore Unitarian Church.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Seattle Times from Jun. 21 to Jul. 5, 2020.
Memorial service
10:00 AM
East Shore Unitarian Church webpage ( )
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7 entries
July 8, 2020
When I was thinking about what area to focus on/major in at the UW (and being interested in and proficient at languages), I met with Prof. Andrews who told me that as an undergrad, I would be getting a liberal arts degree in pretty much whatever area I chose to study however if I chose the Dept of Near Eastern Languages, I would end up taking/knowing some pretty cool languages. He convinced me and so I did! One of my favorite classes of his was Islamic Calligraphy (he did beautiful work) and also Ottoman Turkish/Poetry. I also remember attending the Middle East Studies Assn Annual Meeting in 1990 in San Antonio TX as part of the UW delegation and we got up really early one morning and went jogging around the neighborhoods of San Antonio and came across a mariachi band playing on a street corner (which he delighted in)! He was always supportive and encouraging and I wish I had kept in better touch over the years! Huzur içinde yatsn Prof. Andrews!
Annie (Wickwire) Delucchi
July 2, 2020
The world has lost a man of enormous spirit - a person able and willing and eager to share his great mind and great heart with others and evidently have a really good time doing that sharing. I'm so glad that Walter - I want to say King - and I were able to connect however scantily in later years. I wish we had broadened and deepened that connection.
In school days, when King seemed at times less than fully prepared for class, we didn't realize that he was probably reading something more intriguing and important than the assignment... We could see his great good nature and athletic prowess, but we did not realize the intellectual and spiritual directions he would take. I am saddened that King was not granted more time to continue his missions. I know he will be deeply missed.
Dutton Foster
July 1, 2020
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Alison Niederer
June 27, 2020

I have never met Walter, but I worked with him for more than 14 years through the emails and the internet, a lifetime! My work with him is documented at the Svobodapedia. If I can say anything about this long time is that he gave me back my faith in our human race! His generosity, will to help, to give the best he can to others, and to endeavor for their good, have absolutely no limits, no matter where they are, and what their religion or faith is! I miss his humane soul, his kindness, also his deep and unlimited knowledge, and his will to make everything correct in our work. His last email to me was to apologize to me for being unable to reply to my emails inquiring about his health, when he was in such agony because of his illness! What words do I have to describe the feeling of loss of such a person gifted with so much? To me, he was one and maybe the only one I worked with so kind and humane, or one of a rarity for sure. I pray for his utter peace and that he will be compensated generously from Allah, our Creator, for bringing happiness and support so generously to others,
Nowf Allawi. Architect, Iraq Kurdistan Region, Erbil
Nowf Allawi
June 23, 2020
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Janan Carter
June 23, 2020
My cousin Walter was a pillar of a man. In my childhood I thought he was the most "exotic" person I'd ever met. When he and Melinda (my 1st cousin) went to Turkey, then came back with stories, it was magical. His academic brilliance inspired me. He was kind, generous, filled with love and dedicated to the greater good of humankind. His wife, daughters and grandchildren are simply exception individuals who helped shape his remarkable journey. I am so proud to be part of this family. Not enough paper or ink to express the essence of this beautiful life. I Love you Walter.
Dr. Elizabeth Kohler
June 21, 2020
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