Nagel, Paul C. Paul C. Nagel, biographer and historian, died May 22, 2011 in Edina at the N. C. Little Hospice. He was 85. Nagel, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, spent forty years elsewhere distinguishing himself as a university professor, administrator and writer. He and his wife, Joan, returned to Minneapolis in 1992. A native of Independence, Missouri, Nagel enrolled at the University at the close of World War II. He earned his bachelor's, master's and, in 1952, the Ph.D in history. In 1948, he married Joan R. Peterson, a librarian at the University. Joan, a genealogist, was a collaborator with Paul in many of his historical works. She died in 2010. Nagel began his career as a teacher and writer. After fifteen years as a professor of history, he became dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Kentucky. In 1969, Nagel was named vice president for academic affairs at the University of Missouri. In 1980, Nagel left academic administration to become the Director of the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond. In 1985, he began to devote full-time to writing for the general reader. He is best known for his three books about the Adams family of Massachusetts: Descent From Glory, The Adams Women and John Quincy Adams. Nagel then turned his attention to The Lees of Virginia. Nagel has also written three books dealing with his native state of Missouri. In September of 2010, Nagel received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Adams Institute. Only two other persons have been given this honor- David McCullough and Ted Kennedy. Other honors include designation by the state legislature of Virginia as a Cultural Laureate. He was a senior trustee of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Returning to Minnesota, Paul became active at the University of Minnesota, most notably serving as president of the Friends of the Library organization. He is survived by three sons, Eric J., Jefferson, and Steven P. (Monica) and a granddaughter, Margaret Joan Nagel (daughter of Jefferson). A celebration of Nagel's life will be held on Wednesday, May 25 from 3-5 p.m. at the Elmer L. Anderson Library, University of Minnesota. Memorials are preferred to the Joan Peterson Nagel Memorial Fund at the University of Minnesota Anderson Library.
Published in Star Tribune on May 24, 2011.