Passings: Walter Beringer, professor emeritus of history, was a scholar of ancient Greek and Latin

York University Professor Emeritus of History Walter Beringer died in his sleep in a care home in Nelson, B.C. on March 23. He was a beloved teacher and colleague, whose academic career was entirely at Glendon College where he taught courses in history and the humanities, namely Greek and Roman myths, Greek and Roman history, and the history of religion.

Walter Beringer

Walter Beringer

After receiving his Dr Phil from the University of Tübingen in 1956 and passing the Staatsexam in 1958, he was appointed a Wissenschaftlicher Assistent in the Historischer Seminar of the University of Tübingen. In 1962/1963, he had a Fulbright fellowship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1963, he was offered the position of Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkley, which he held for two years, and in 1965 he accepted a position at York University, electing to stay at Glendon College as a member of the History Department. He retired in 1993 and moved to Nelson B.C., where he was involved initially with the David Thompson University Centre in Nelson (now closed), with the local Lutheran Church, and with the local community radio station. With his wife Mary, née Davies, whom he had met in Tübingen where she was studying German and married in 1959, he put together a season-long series of broadcasts on Wagnerian operas. His wife Mary pre-deceased him in 2010.

Prof. Beringer’s doctoral dissertation was in the field of Greek social history and he published articles on that subject in Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte. He had studied ancient Greek and Latin but also had a reading knowledge of Hebrew and French in addition to being fluent in German and English. It was thanks to Prof. Beringer that Glendon’s graduation ceremonies included Latin invocations until recently. His great passion was teaching, a passion that his students and colleague felt and appreciated. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Greek, Roman, and European history and enjoyed discussing the past with colleagues and students. Together with his wife Mary, he often entertained colleagues and the many friends they had in the German community in Toronto. One year he organized a series of Wednesday evening meetings at their home for interested friends and colleagues to see and discuss the art series Civilisation: A Personal View by Kenneth Clark— a television documentary series outlining the history of Western art, architecture, and philosophy since the Dark Ages. He also distinguished himself from his colleagues at Glendon College by always wearing an academic gown in class.

Prof. Beringer was open to all views and yet steadfast in those he held. He had a delightful and cheery disposition, always ready to help colleagues who sought his assistance, and he was a consummate professional when it came to teaching. After moving to Nelson, he kept in contact with colleagues and friends until his health, in the past few years, made it difficult even to speak on the telephone.

Prof. Beringer is survived by his son David and wife Valerie in Nelson and his daughter Alison Beringer, professor of Classics and General Humanities at Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, and her husband Dr. Aaron “Rick” Wright.

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