Dr. E. Digby Baltzell. The Department of Sociology plans a campus memorial service this month, to be announced shortly.

Dr. Digby Baltzell: Philadelphia Gentleman and Scholar

Dr. E. Digby Baltzell, the renowned Penn sociologist whose studies of the White Protestant Anglo-Saxon establishment and the creation of its acronym, WASP, made an indelible impression on the American consciousness, died on August 17 at the age of 80.

Dr. Baltzell, who had houses on Delancey Place in Philadelphia and in Wellfleet, Mass., was vacationing at his summer home when he was stricken with chest pains and hospitalized at Hyannis, then moved to Boston, where he passed away at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

As the East Coast's media learned of his death, reams of newsprint were once again devoted to Dr. Baltzell's work, just as they had been each time he delivered a new insight into the workings of the ruling elite of America.

Edward Digby Baltzell was born in Philadelphia to a comfortable but not privileged family, and grew up in Chestnut Hill. He took his bachelor's degree at Penn in 1940. After World War II service as a naval aviator he earned his Ph.D. from Columbia and returned to Penn to become one of the University's most popular and influential teachers as well as a best-selling author whose books were popular with the general public and at the same time respected by colleagues.

An outstanding teacher who built lifetime ties with many of his students, he won SAS's Ira Abrams Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1985, an Alumni Award of Merit, the Philadelphia Athenaeum's Nonfiction Book Award, and honorary degreees from LaSalle College and the University of Pennsylvania.

Outside the University, Dr. Baltzell's fame rested primarily on four well-known books.

Two that were produced early in his career (the 1958 Philadelphia Gentlemen : The Making of a National Upper Class, and the 1964 The Protestant Establishment : Aristocracy and Caste in America) established his reputationamong American social commentators as well as scholars and studentsas a man with something new to say and a persuasive way of saying it. He had studied the haves as other sociolgists studied the have-nots, identifying sociological factors that he believed would bring about a decline in leadership if the ruling elite did not take its responsibilities and at the same time open its doors to rising new energies.

Decades later his Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia: Two Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Authority and Leadership contrasted two styles of urban aristocracy, with Philadelphia coming off second best in the book though not in his own estimation as the preferred city to live in. Last year in Sporting Gentlemen: Men's Tennis from the Golden Age of Amateurism to the Cult of the Superstar, he identified Arthur Ashe as the "last best example of the gentlemanly values of the amateur."

Dr. Baltzell, whose first wife, the artist Jane Piper, died in 1991, is survived by two daughters, Eve and Jan Baltzell and by his second wife, Jocelyn Carlson Baltzell and two step-daughters Justina Carlton and Julie Carlson Groves. He is also survived by a brother, Dr. William Baltzell, and a niece and two nephews.

Fr. Hermann Behrens. A campus service will be held September 12 at 4 p.m. in the Museum.

Rev. Hermann Behrens, Sumerian Scholar and Pastor

The Rev. Hermann Behrens, a distinguished Sumerologist and who had been one of the core group of scholars in the University Museum's Sumerian Dictionary Project for the past 15 years, died on August 1 at the age of 52.

Only a month before his death Father Behrens had been named editor-in-chief of the dictionary project, a massive effort involving some 250 scholars worldwide who are working to produce 20 volumes (three have been completed so far). Considered a top-ranking Sumeriologist at 52, he was expected by his Museum colleagues to be the leader who would carry the project into the twenty-first century. He had just returned from a visit to his native Germany when he died, apparently of a heart attack in his sleep, at the Rectory of St. Frances de Sales in West Philadelphia.

In addition to being an outstanding linguist and scholar of the world's first oldest known written language, Father Behrens was also the choir director and pastor-in-residence at St. Frances de Sales, active in parish and community life in his adopted city. Born in Ankum, Germany, he was a member of the Order of the Sacred Heart who received his doctorate from Freiberg University and began his scholarly work as a student and teacher of the Old Testment. After participating in an archaeological expedition to Kamid el-loz in Lebanon in 1971-72, and after further study, he began teaching Near Eastern archaeology and Sumerology at Frieberg in 1979.

The author of three books on Sumerian historical texts and one on Sumerian literature, he joined Penn in 1981 as a research associate on the Dictionary Project. He also taught courses in Near Eastern geography at Penn.

A funeral mass was held on August 5 at St. Francis de Sales, celebrating his life as a scholar and priest noted for his warmth and humanity. On Thursday, September 12, University colleagues will hold a memorial service at 4 p.m. in the University Museum.

Dr. Ernest Dale of Management

At presstime Almanac was notified of the death of Dr. Ernest Dale, a longtime professor of management in the Wharton School whose worldwide scholarship and consulting influenced economic development across national boundaries. Details of his career will be published next week.


Volume 43 Number 2
September 3, 1996

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