In Memoriam: Robert A. Seelinger

(Written by Ted Tarkow)

An alum of Dickinson, Brown, and the University of Missouri (MU), Bob Seelinger (1951-2018) taught classics at Westminster College in Fulton, MO, from 1979 until taking early retirement in 2015, necessitated by a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.  By the time of his death, he had served as professor of classics for over 20 years and in addition had served as Dean of the Faculty and Vice President of the College for over a half dozen years at the campus made famous by the “Iron Curtain” speech delivered there   in 1946 by Winston Churchill.

A beloved teacher, Bob taught all levels of both languages as well as a wide range of general education courses.  Not surprisingly to the scores of Westminster students who had studied with him, he received the APA Award for Excellence in the Teaching of the Classics, the Governor’s Award for Teaching, and the Parents’ Association Award for Teaching, among many other recognitions.    But his career also allowed presentations and publications in some of his favorite authors, from Apuleius (the focus of his PhD dissertation), to 4th century, Republican, and early Imperial authors and genres.  His abundant time at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, as well as at two NEH Summer Seminars, enabled other students and scholars to make the most of their time there.

A devoted family man, Bob met his wife Cathy Callaway, herself an accomplished professional in the field, when they both studied classics at MU where their son, not surprisingly, also majored in classics, as well as in political science. The family enjoyed traveling together, most notably to Greece, where they enjoyed three different sabbatical  years, the last one in 2005-06.

Until just weeks before he passed away, Bob was working on two projects:  an update of William Parrish’s Westminster College, An Informal History (with Margot McMillen) and an analysis  (with Cathy Callaway) of a Greek funeral stele (2nd-3rd century A.D.) dedicated to Heliodora in the Museum of Art and Archaeology at MU.   He never lost his zeal for research, and his love of teaching.

The proud tradition of classics in the “Show Me” state is honored to acknowledge, with abundant admiration, the life and legacy of a talented exemplar of our profession, a true kalos kagathos for whom more modern adjectives seem especially appropriate:   learned, kind, thoughtful, and brave.

(Written by Cathy Callaway)

ROBERT ADAM SEELINGER died on September 22, 2018, on his father’s birthday, after a four- and a-half-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was born at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington DC on October 16, 1951. An Eagle Scout, he attended Rogers High School in Newport, Rhode Island, and Dickinson College, in Pennsylvania. He spent his junior year in Rome. He received an MA from Brown University, and a PhD in Classics and Classical Archaeology from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1981. Seelinger learned Latin at an early age and continued to read, write, and teach it his whole life. He was also a scholar of ancient Greek, and during his three sabbatical years in Greece he became fluent in Modern Greek.

He moved to Columbia, MO in 1974 to pursue his PhD in the Department of Classical Studies. He started teaching Latin and other Classics courses part-time at Westminster College in 1979. The position became full-time and tenure-track in 1981.

From 1999-2005 he served as Dean of Faculty and Vice President of the College. He was a leader in the initiative to start a Westminster campus in Mesa, AZ and was grateful for the support and dedication of all those who were involved in that project. He was gratified by the fact that many of the Mesa students continued their Westminster experience on the Fulton campus. He was deeply moved by the retirement celebration he shared with other colleagues in 2016.

He is survived by his wife, Cathy Callaway, his son, Nicholas Seelinger, his sister, Barbara (Robert) Beebe of Middletown RI, and nephew Adam Carter of Tacoma WA, and two great nephews. He also leaves behind a beloved host of relatives on Cathy’s side that consider him family; several were present at his peaceful death in his home. Thanks to the people at Hospice Compassus and Dr. Anna Hulbert for making this possible. We would also like to thank ALL the health care professionals, at the University Hospital in Columbia, at Mayo in Rochester MN, at Barnes in St Louis, and the Emergency Technicians in Fulton, who showed such compassion, care, and expertise every time they worked with him to cope with the challenges of this disease.

Celebration of Robert's life will be 2:00 pm Sunday, October 21, 2018 at the Church of St. Mary Aldermanbury located on the Westminster College Campus, 501 Westminster Ave. in Fulton, Missouri. A reception will follow the service. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be directed to either Westminster College, Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN, or the Fulton Soup Kitchen c/o Debo Funeral Home, 833 Court Street, Fulton, Missouri 65251.

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(Photo: "Candle" by Shawn Carpenter, licensed under CC BY 2.0)   

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The message below was sent to all APA members for whom we have a valid e-mail address on January 20, 2012.

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Dear Colleague:

Our joint annual meeting just completed in Philadelphia attracted over 3,000 registrants—one of our largest meetings ever.  Daniel Mendelsohn got us off to a wonderful start by movingly reminding us why we devote our lives to the study of classical antiquity.  Kathleen Coleman’s Presidential Panel entitled “Images for Classicists” showed us new ways to carry out our work, and new initiatives from the Program Committee improved both the presentations at sessions and the discussions they stimulated.  And to judge from the number of institutions conducting interviews through the Placement Service, even the job market (knock on wood) was improved over the last two years.  All these efforts produced an energy that carried over to the book display, the CAMP performance, and, of course, the receptions.  I look forward to working with you to maintain that energy during my Presidency.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Sat, 01/21/2012 - 6:47pm by Adam Blistein.

Search for Editor of Transactions of the American Philological Association

Professor Katharina Volk has indicated her intention to complete her term as Editor at the 2014 Annual Meeting.  The Editor, who must be a member in good standing of the Association, is initially appointed for four years, with the possibility of extension for a maximum of two additional years.   The new editor's term officially begins in January 2014 and will cover volumes 144-147 and the years 2014-2017.  As Editor Designate, however, the new editor will begin to receive submissions in early 2013 and spend the summer and fall of that year preparing the 2014 issues for the press.  Professor Volk will complete the two issues for the year 2013.

The editor of TAPA has sole responsibility for editorial content, and must acknowledge submissions, select referees, and inform authors whether submissions have been accepted.  In addition, the editor must work closely with the journals division of Johns Hopkins University Press, which typesets, produces and distributes each issue.  A lively interest in the future of scholarly publishing in the digital age will be a welcome qualification.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Sat, 01/21/2012 - 6:31pm by Adam Blistein.

"Latin is a bit like a zombie: dead but still clamoring to get into our brains. In one discipline, however, Latin just got a bit deader. For at least 400 years, botanists across the globe have relied on Latin as their lingua franca, but the ardor has cooled. Scientists say plants will keep their double-barreled Latin names, but they have decided to drop the requirement that new species be described in the classical language. Instead, they have agreed to allow botanists to use English (other languages need not apply). In their scientific papers, they can still describe a newly found species of plant — or algae or fungi — in Latin if they wish, but most probably won’t."

Read more online at The Washington Post.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sat, 01/21/2012 - 6:23pm by Information Architect.

"A university professorship which has been dormant for more than a decade is to be revived after a £2.4m bequest from the last person to hold the post. Professor Douglas Maurice MacDowell held Glasgow University's Chair of Greek between 1971 and 2001. After his death in 2010, aged 78, Prof MacDowell's will stated his portfolio of stocks and shares be used to re-establish the position. The new Chair of Greek is expected to be in place for September this year." Read more at the BBC online.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 01/19/2012 - 9:54pm by Information Architect.

From the Truman State University Index:

"Despite its small numbers, the classics department remains alive even though their languages are ancient. There are 19 declared classics majors, five of whom will graduate this year, 27 minors and four full-time staff members, said Clifton Kreps, classical and modern language department chair. The Missouri Department of Higher Education reviewed all programs with fewer than 10 graduates a year during Fall 2010. Truman State thus was required to provide a written justification and answer a questionnaire regarding enrollment data for the small number of graduates in classics, along with art history, Russian, German, interdisciplinary studies and bachelors of music. The explanation satisfied the MDHE for the time being, but another review is scheduled for 2014. No further information regarding the format or consequences of the next review has been provided to the University."

Read more here.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 01/16/2012 - 2:48am by Information Architect.

Adam Kirsch reviews Rome: Day One, Rome and Rhetoric, The Romans and Their World, Caligula, Invisible Romans, and Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History in the January 9th issue of The New Yorker. An abstract of the review is available online for free; subscribers have full access.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 01/16/2012 - 2:41am by Information Architect.

"You might not think that a collaboration to study the chemical and physical properties of ancient Attic pottery would have anything to do with space missions, but, well, you'd be mistaken. Earlier this year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded nearly $500,000 to scientists from the Getty Conservation Institute, Stanford's National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) and the Aerospace Corporation to do just that."

Read more at discovery.com.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sun, 01/01/2012 - 7:31pm by Information Architect.

"Emmett L. Bennett Jr., a classicist who played a vital role in deciphering Linear B, the Bronze Age Aegean script that defied solution for more than 50 years after it was unearthed on clay tablets in 1900, died on Dec. 15 in Madison, Wis. He was 93. His daughter Cynthia Bennett confirmed the death. Professor Bennett was considered the father of Mycenaean epigraphy — that is, the intricate art of reading inscriptions from the Mycenaean period, as the slice of the Greek Bronze Age from about 1600 to 1200 B.C. is known. His work, which entailed analysis so minute that he could eventually distinguish the handwritings of many different Bronze Age scribes, helped open a window onto the Mycenaean world."

Read the entire obituary online at The New York Times.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Sun, 01/01/2012 - 4:28pm by .

APA Annual Meeting Session 35 (Saturday, January 7, 11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m., Marriott Grand Ballroom I), is a discussion of the literary, historical, art historical, religious, and political possibilities raised by John Miller's Goodwin Prize-Winning book.  Incoming President-Elect Denis Feeney will be the moderator.  Panelists will briefly summarize their papers but will not read them in their entirety so as to leave more time for discussion.  The papers are therefore posted here.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 12/30/2011 - 4:01pm by Adam Blistein.

To complement her Presidential Panel, “Images for Classicists,” to be held at the 2012 Joint Meeting of the APA/AIA in Philadelphia, Kathleen Coleman has assembled an online resource to help scholars locate and use images in their teaching and research.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 12/26/2011 - 5:59pm by .

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