Remembering Dennis Wachtel

The Maryville University community mourns the loss of professor emeritus of history Dennis Wachtel, PhD.

Wachtel was a professor in the Social Sciences teaching both psychology and history from 1964 until his retirement in 2017. His remarkable 53 years of service is a tribute to the thousands of Maryville students that he touched and to his commitment to his discipline.

Wachtel was an avid reader of history, passionate about its importance in the full education of Maryville students and all citizens. His quiet enthusiasm and creativity in the classroom was a model of excellence for all familiar with his work. He took delight from the fact that he was always learning new things about history, alongside his students.

In a 2009 interview with Maryville Magazine, Wachtel said: “If you ever came to my house you’d have trouble finding your way to a seat for all the books I have piled up all over the place. Every now and then I think, ‘I need to do a course on this.’ I’ve never lost my interest in my discipline and that keeps you going.”

Professor of philosophy John Wickersham, PhD, remembers that upon arriving at the Maryville campus on a September morning in 1963, the first person he met was Wachtel.

“He was standing by the entrance of the Liberal Arts Building (now, Reid Hall). After introductions, Dennis said that he taught history, and I, philosophy. Those two facts were the basis of a half-century friendship. We had many a wonderful conversation ranging over the history of ideas. Dennis was a polymath, deeply learned in all the liberal arts disciplines, and his powers of retention and recall were prodigious.

“Dennis was beloved by his students and respected by his colleagues. For 20 years, when we were hale and strong, Dennis, Norman Woldow and I were the watchdogs of faculty prerogatives, for which we were called the ‘Terrible Ws.’ We cherished that cognomen.
Those were the days. We shall not see his like again.”

To honor Wachtel, contributions may be made to the Dr. Dennis Wachtel Endowed Scholarship Fund at Maryville University.

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