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In memoriam

MSU Denver mourns the passing of Professor Donald Wall, Ph.D.

By Lindsey Coulter

July 20, 2020

Trees blooming on campus; St. Cajetan's in background.Professor Donald Dale Wall, Ph.D., died May 17 at age 86 of pneumonia related to COVID-19. Wall taught in the Metropolitan State University of Denver History Department from 1968-2002 and will be remembered for his kind and gentle nature, his skill as an educator and his passion for the study of history.

Wall was born in Brighton in 1933 and graduated from high school with honors in 1951. After studying history, German, music and teaching at Concordia Teachers College, he received a master’s degree from DePaul University in 1959 and earned his doctorate from the University of Colorado Boulder in 1969. Wall received a Fulbright scholarship to conduct research in Germany before accepting a teaching position at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. There he met Carrie Jean Higley, to whom he was happily married for nearly 52 years.

Upon returning to Colorado, Wall joined the MSU Denver faculty. As an educator and historian, Wall focused on the study of World War II, particularly the enduring relevance and impact of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany, publishing a textbook on the subject and receiving prestigious grants.

In addition, Wall was a fan of classical music and the songs of Gilbert and Sullivan, and he enjoyed playing the guitar, organ and piano. He was also active in his faith and church community and will be remembered for his compassion, humor, integrity and easygoing nature.

“Don was a gentle person, always willing to listen, a humane, humble man of great intellectual and spiritual depth,” said Steve Leonard, Ph.D., professor, History. “He was a dedicated teacher who attracted large numbers of students and who never complained about his class sizes. The course he created on Nazi Germany was among the History Department’s most popular.”

Shortly after retiring from MSU Denver, Wall was involved in a serious car accident that caused a number of significant health issues in his later life, but he continued to persevere with the help of his family and his resilient spirit. He will be remembered by his wife, children and grandchildren as well as by his many friends and colleagues.

Memorial donations in Wall’s name can be made to refurbish the pipe organ at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 700 S. Franklin St., Denver.

Topics: Community

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