Newsletter Fall 2010 Passings


John F. Boler

John Boler died September 4, 2009, at the age of 80. He joined the department in 1960 after four years in the Air Force and four more at Harvard. His long service to the department was broken by visiting appointments at Berkeley, Irvine, Rutgers, Michigan, and Washington University. His steady contribution to medieval philosophy won him an international reputation and a one-year membership at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies. He retired in 1992 at the end of his second stint as chairman of the department. His first stint was in 1969-70 during the height of the student unrest. John was perfectly matched to the crisis, and steered the department, which was at the center of the storm, through turbulent times with a cool, even-tempered hand. Once retired, he was delighted to return to his philosophical work, both the solitary work of writing and the public work of giving talks.

John had a wide circle of friends in the Northwest (and elsewhere); his skill as a raconteur made him an unmatched treasure at any social gathering. He was well-loved for many qualities, but his friends especially appreciated his quiet, thoughtful, and gentle presence. He was the epitome of a Gentleman, and the world became slightly less civilized with his passing.

Paul Deitrichson

A Celebration of Life, in memory of University of Washington Professor Emeritus, Paul Dietrichson, took place on Saturday, February 13, 2010, in the Walker Ames room of Kane Hall. Paul passed away on January 6, 2010.

Paul was born in Bergen, Norway in 1921. During World War II, Paul was active in the Norwegian resistance and performed numerous acts of bravery in helping Jews escape persecution. Years later this heroism was recognized by the Seattle Scandinavian community, and he was made Grand Marshal of the Norwegian Day parade. Before attending Yale and earning a Ph.D. in philosophy, he attended the University of Georgia. From Yale, he came to the University of Washington where he was an active member of the philosophy faculty for the next 36 years. He taught courses in Kierkegaard, Kant, and Existentialism. His courses reflected a passionate, sincere, deeply thoughtful approach to his topics, and were extremely well received by his students. Much of his teaching centered on the theme of moral commitment, and no one in our time has been more morally committed than Paul. His presence will be deeply missed.

Tyrel R. Mears

A memorial service for graduate student and teaching assistant, Tyrel R. Mears, was held Tuesday, October 12, 2010, in Savery Hall, room 260 at 4:00 PM. Ty died on July 4, 2010. Ty started our graduate program in the autumn of 2007. He earned his M.A. in spring 2009, and was continuing on in our Ph.D. program. Ty was an excellent teacher of philosophy. In January, 2010, some of his students nominated him for the University of Washington's Excellence in Teaching Award, one of the University's most prestigious teaching awards. Besides philosophy, Ty loved to run, bike, rock climb, water ski, snow ski, and was very fond of ice cream. Our department, and graduate program will not be the same without him. We miss him.

The Tyrel R. Mears Memorial Fund has been set up by the Mears family to honor Ty's life. The fund will support a graduate student library which will be housed in Savery Hall's Philosophy Department. Many of Ty's books have been donated to this library, and more will be purchased with the money that is donated to this fund. If you would like to donate to the fund, you can do so online at or you can send a check directly to the University of Washington, Dept of Philosophy, Box 353350, Seattle, WA 98195.

Lisa (Henry) Wong

A funeral mass for our former graduate student, Lisa Wong took place on Tuesday, March 2, 2010. Lisa is survived by her husband, Victor Wong, her five children, and her 5 grandchildren. Lisa was 61 years old.

Lisa first came to the University of Washington as an undergraduate in 1967. After taking time off for marriage and children, Lisa returned to the University and earned her B.A. in Philosophy in 1991. She continued at the UW as a graduate student earning her M.A. in Philosophy in 1995, and her Ph.C. in 1996. She had a special interest in Asian and Medieval European philosophy and for several years taught philosophy, ethics, and logic courses at the University of Washington and Seattle Central Community College. Lisa had a kind and gentle presence, and she will be missed in our philosophical community.

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