Bruce P. Berlind (1926-2014)
Bruce Peter Berlind, Charles A. Dana Professor of English, emeritus, died peacefully in his sleep at home on Nov. 1, 2014. He was 88.
Berlind began his teaching career at Colgate in 1954, specializing in modern American poetry. He founded the English department’s visiting writers’ series in the 1960s when he began hosting readings by American and British poets on campus.
A poet himself, Berlind saw “the obligation to confront yourself and your world as honestly as you can. A poet … must examine the worst as well as the best,” he told the Colgate Scene in 1988.
Berlind also made the work of important international poets available to English readers through his translations, which were published in a variety of collections and literary journals. “The greatest challenge is to make as good an English-American poem of it as I can, at the same time staying as close to the original as possible,” Berlind told the Scene in 2009. In addition to French and German, he was best known for his translations of Hungarian poetry, which included work by Gyula Illyés, Otto Orban, Imre Oravecz, Agnes Nemes Nagy, and Dezo Tandoori. He was awarded the Hungarian PEN Memorial Medal in 1986.
At Colgate, beyond his teaching, Berlind devoted longtime service as department chair, directed Core 210, served on the new general education steering committee, served on and chaired the graduate fellowships committee, and served on the promotion and tenure committee.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1926, Berlind attended Princeton and Johns Hopkins universities. He served in the U.S. Army in intelligence, being stationed in Germany after VE Day and then in Japan during the Korean War.
He is survived by his wife, Jo Anne Pagano, professor of educational studies, emerita; daughters Lise Blumenthal (Boulder, Colo.), Anne (Portland, Maine), and Sasha Frey (Sudbury, Mass.); sons John (Burlington, Vt.) and Paul (Leander, Texas); 10 grandchildren; and three brothers, Alan (Bordeaux, France), and Roger and Robert (New York City).
A memorial service was held at Colgate’s Chapel House on Nov. 15, 2014.
— Photo by Andrew Daddio