1914 -- 1979
The University of Michigan has suffered a grievous loss in the death of Dr. Marvin Felheim, Professor of English and Joe Lee Davis Distinguished Professor of American Culture. Professor Felheim, who had served his College and University with highest distinction for over three decades, died on July 16, 1979 at the age of 65 after a protracted struggle with serious illness. He is survived by his wife, Charlotte, and his brother, Frank.
Born October 9, 1914, Professor Felheim earned his A. B. and A. M. at the University of Cincinnati, his Ph. D. at Harvard University. He joined the Michigan faculty in 1948, and was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1950, Associate Professor in 1956, Professor in 1962. From 1971 through 1978, he served as Director of the Program in American Culture, shaping it into one of the best and most innovative in the United States.
Professor Felheim's scholarly and teaching interests were unusually expansive and unusually intense. His tastes in literature ranged from classical Greek drama, through Shakespeare and the classics of America, to the pop liter¬ature of the contemporary world. He was a pioneer in the study of film, a major art collector and an influential lecturer on contmporary arts. His many articles and books grew from his manifold interests and touch on all of these areas. But perhaps Marvin Felheim was most influential and best recognized as a great teacher: as one who touched his students - and his public audiences - profoundly; who illuminated their minds, picqued their curiosities, and stirred their hearts.
Many honors came his way. He was a Fulbright Lecturer in France, a Visiting Professor in Taiwan and Japan as well as many places in the United States. He was an Honorary Fellow of the Shakespeare Institute of the University of Birmingham and the recipient of an honorary degree from Alma College. Recognizing his unique achievement, the University of Michigan honored him with most of its major awards: the Class of 1923 Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching; the Williams Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Humanities; the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award; a Collegiate Professorship; the Joe Lee Davis Distinguished Professorship in American Culture.
These honors would not have pleased Marvin Felheim more than the affection and warm regard of his students and colleagues - the many thousands whose lives he touched. Surveying his long and distinguished career in one of his last public lectures, Marvin Felheim said that all finally could be said in one word - love. That is what we will remember - his love of literature, of art, of life, of people; our love of him for his commitment.