Joseph Lancaster Brent, III
An historian who published the first biography of American philosopher and "father of pragmatism" Charles Sanders Peirce, died on January 21, 2020, aged 91, from lung cancer. Dr. Brent was also a long-time civil rights activist and was one of the founders of Federal City College (FCC), the U.S. capital's first public four-year liberal arts institution, which later became the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). Born in Baltimore, Maryland on May 9, 1928 the son of a career diplomat, Joseph spent his early youth living overseas in Cairo, Paris, Jerusalem and Istanbul, before studying at Princeton University, and then obtaining a PhD in history from UCLA after serving in the Korean War. As a boy, he also cherished summers spent in East Blue Hill, Maine. After teaching at Louisiana State University-New Orleans, the College of William & Mary and the University of Maryland-College Park, Dr. Brent became the founding history department chair at FCC, which was established in 1968, and later merged with DC Teachers College and Washington Technical Institute to form UDC. He was a tenured professor of history at UDC until retiring in 1995. Brent's biography of Peirce was published in 1996 by Indiana University Press. In his spare time, Joseph was an avid outdoorsman, sailor, tinkerer and classical and jazz music aficionado. Joseph is survived by wife, Ann M. Garfinkle, sons Duncan, David and William, grandsons, Malcolm, Eli, Theo, Elliot and Julian, granddaughters, Katie, Eva and Alma, and brother Robert. The family is sitting shiva between 4 to 8 p.m., January 22, 2020, at the family home.
Published in The Washington Post on Jan. 22, 2020.