It is with great sadness that we announce that former Maryville professor Dr. Johannes Wich-Schwarz passed away this week from pancreatic cancer.
Johannes taught full-time at Maryville from 2007-2020 and part-time from 2020-2022. He left an indelible mark on the students, faculty, and staff that he touched. He was a true gentleman, scholar, teacher, and he brought joy and thoughtfulness to everyone who knew him.
Below is an obituary tribute to Johannes prepared by several of his longtime colleagues and friends.
A remembrance will be held in September with more details will follow.
Johannes Wich-Schwarz passed away on April 17, 2023, after suffering from pancreatic cancer for several months.
Johannes studied literature, philosophy, and religion in Germany, England, and the United States, and earned his PhD in religion and literature from Boston University. His research interests included Modernism, post-Holocaust poetry, and literary translation. His best-known book is Transformation of Language and Religion in Rainer Maria Rilke (Peter Lang, 2012).
At Maryville, Johannes served as a full-time English and Humanities faculty member from 2007-2020. He made powerful contributions to the Humanities program, developing numerous courses and helping to update the English and Philosophy curricula. His colleagues especially appreciated his penchant for catchy, clever course titles.
As a teacher, Johannes drew upon contemplative psychology — his classes often began with a few minutes of quiet consideration, and he preferred to arrange his classrooms so everyone could sit in a circle. He included active listening and one-on-one conferences in all of his courses, helping students develop their unique voices in a supportive atmosphere.
A brilliant person of many interests, Johannes also loved music of varying styles (from classical to Laura Nyro), blitz chess, science fiction magazines, and the philosophers of the Vienna Circle. In his last months, he was studying Judaism and the Hebrew language, and working on a children’s book entitled Cathy and the Lost Spaceship.
Johannes was generous and warm, and always eager to truly listen to students and col-leagues. He was much loved, and we will miss him.