At a recent SCS Annual Meeting, with Lou Bolchazy holding forth across an aisle of the book exhibit, his nominator for this award said to a distinguished member of our profession, “If anyone deserves our Distinguished Service Award, Lou does.” Sadly, Lou passed away in the summer of 2012 before this award could be given to him in person.
To most members of the SCS, Ladislaus (“Lou”) J. Bolchazy was best known as the founder of Bolchazy-Carducci publishers and as a lively, indefatigable presence not only at SCS/AIA meetings, but also at gatherings of regional and other classical associations. Fewer may know his book, Hospitality in Antiquity, or his radio series on myth broadcast by Loyola University, or his work as founder and editor of Ancient World and as editor of Classical Bulletin from 1991 to 2008. In addition, not many may know that he taught for several years at both the college and secondary levels before embarking upon his career in classics publishing.
Lou was born in Slovakia in 1937 and came to the United States when he was eleven years old. After earning a BA in Philosophy, he received an MA in Classics from New York University and a PhD in Classics from the State University of New York at Albany. He also held a permanent New York State Teaching Certificate in Latin. He taught in New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois, holding his last academic position at Loyola University of Chicago.
Lou had a difficult time getting a permanent teaching position. Not wanting to travel around the country any longer to try to stay in academia, he decided to start his own classics publishing company. From that tiny and personal beginning developed a company, Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, which today is a major source of textbooks for the classics profession.
As a publisher, Lou had a genius for bringing to birth the idea that you would never have thought you could publish, the educational strategy that you never thought would make a book, or the vision for a textbook that no one else believed would work. Priding himself on creating a publishing company by and for classicists, he assiduously promoted the value of the classics at every opportunity he had. The company motto “A Better Future Through the Lessons of the Past,” reflected Lou’s sense of the transformative potential of the classics. He was devoted to classics teachers and their classroom needs, always asking teachers what was missing, trying to fill the perceived gaps, while developing innovative materials as well. Lou sought to support good teaching at all levels of classics instruction from beginning to advanced, in colleges and in the schools. He even ventured into some more general classics publishing aimed at young children as well as the general public.
The fact that an obituary notice appeared on both the American Classical League website and the American Philological Association website is testimony to the fact that Lou’s reach extended to the entire classics profession in this country. Most of us have a lasting image of Lou at that ACL or SCS book exhibit, always willing and eager to talk about another book we might use. One young member of the profession recently recounted how she left the booth with the books she came for and, of course, several more at Lou’s suggestion! Such was his belief in his products, his talent for promotion, and his passion for keeping alive the field of classics he loved so much. For his tremendous impact on the field of classics through publishing, we honor him today.
We present to Lou Bolchazy the SCS Distinguished Service Award for his extraordinary service to the profession of classics and the American Philological Association.