In Remembrance of Professor Donald Treadgold
Professor Donald Warren Treadgold, long-time professor of Russian History at the University of Washington, died unexpectedly from acute leukemia on December 13, 1994. He was born 72 years ago in Silverton, Oregon, and he had a long, illustrious career as a great scholar and teacher. He earned his B.A. degree in 1943 at the University of Oregon. His studies were interrupted by military service between 1943 and 1946 in Europe where he rose to the rank of captain in the military intelligence. In 1947 he earned his Master's degree at Harvard and his Doctor of Philosophy three years later at Oxford. In 1949 he joined the University of Washington from which he retired at the end of June 1993.
To his colleagues, Donald Treadgold was best known as a superb and prolific scholar. He produced literally hundreds of articles, monographs, book reviews, and other publications, including such seminal monographs as Lenin and His Rivals (1955), The Great Siberian Migration (1957), The West in Russia and China (1973), A History of Christianity (1979), and Twentieth Century Russia (1959), the eighth edition of which will be published posthumously by Westview Press. He co-edited numerous other publications, such as Gorbachev and the Soviet Future (1988, with Larry Lerner), seven volumes of A History of East-Central Europe (with me), and his last editorial accomplishment Render unto Caesar: Religion and World Politics (with Sabrina Ramet).
Donald Treadgold was also instrumental in the success of The Slavic Review, the well-known journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (AAASS). He was managing editor of the journal from 1961 (when its name was changed from The American Slavic and East European Review) to 1965, and under his management it became a first-rate scholarly periodical. The journal's success was the result in no small part to his thoroughness as editor -- he is the only editor I ever knew who would not approve an article for publication until he checked every footnote to make certain they were absolutely correct! That this took much time did not matter to him; he had to do what he considered to be the proper and required job. When the publication ran into some difficulties again, it was Professor Treadgold who was asked to resume the job of Managing Editor for a second time, from 1968 to 1975, although he had to add this burden to the already time- consuming position of Chairperson of the History Department. This was typical of Donald Treadgold, who never refused to step in when help was needed by an organization or a friend.
To do things properly and correctly was part of Donald Treadgold's characteristics and values. Added to this was a certain noblesse oblige, which made him accept assignments from university departments and scholarly organizations. The services he rendered are too many to list, as are the major awards and honors he received.
Professor Treadgold was an exceptional teacher of both graduates and undergraduates while upholding the highest academic standards and values of scholarly research. His interest in his students went far beyond the class room. Every day, when the University was in session, he appeared at 9:30 in the cafeteria of the Student Union where any student could join him and discuss academic, national, world and private problems with him. The number of foreign students who found out what Thanksgiving is by joining the Treadgolds is large. His students became attached to him for life. At every AAASS meeting members of The Gang, as these ex-students call themselves, had a reunion dinner with their master and friend. Not only the students of the University of Washington profited from Professor Treadgold's ability to share his knowledge. He gave lectures at some fifty other institutions and served as visiting professor/scholar at the National University at Taipei, the University of Hawaii, the Academy of Sciences in Moscow, and the Toyo Bunko in Tokyo.
Students were not the only ones who benefited from Professor Treadgold's interest in their well being and from his friendship. So did numerous colleagues including myself. As I wrote elsewhere: "Don was a man who fostered not only his own but many other careers with his encouragement and suggestions. He had his own vision of things, but he was able and willing to listen to those of others..." He not only listened, but helped when he could. In a letter which I received from a respected colleague after Professor Treadgold's death I read: "...when I wrote something for publication I usually had Don in mind as my main reader. I wanted what I wrote to be something that he would approve..." The number of colleagues who thought this way and were helped by both the criticism and the approval they received from Donald Treadgold is numerous indeed.
We lost a great scholar and teacher, but those of us who knew him - and this includes a great number of friends all over the world - lost an exemplary human being. I already wrote about his helpfulness, his belief that things must always be done well as one's ability permits, but if I have to list his main characteristics, I must begin with loyalty. This belonged, first, foremost and always to his family for whom he always had time even in the midst of the most hectic circumstances. His love for them was boundless and unconditional. He was more proud of them than of anything else in life. Next came his friends Even if they disappointed him on occasion, they remained his friends and their weaknesses were overlooked.
Donald Treadgold loved travel, good food, fine wines. He loved classical music, especially opera, and he relaxed in the swimming pool and on the hand ball court. This much everybody knew who had more than a passing acquaintance with him. What most people did not realize was that he had a magnificent sense of humor and appreciated a good joke, even a practical one at his expense. This is something those of us who had lunch with him regularly will miss together with everything else which he represented. Their feeling of loss is shared by the many colleagues and friends, in and out of academia, all over the world who profited from Professor Treadgold's help and advice, enjoyed his company and loved him. I am certain that Professor Treadgold had his weaknesses and faults like all human beings, but well and closely as I knew him, I cannot think of anything that would have bothered me in his case.
Peter F. Sugar
Professor Emeritus of History
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