Kansas City Star (MO)
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
DR. EDWIN JUERGEN FRIEDRICH WILHELM WESTERMANN
Dr. Edwin Juergen Friedrich Wilhelm Westermann , professor emeritus of history at UMKC, passed away peacefully on Monday, May 19, 2003. Dr. Westermann was born, as he put it, "One mile east of Bremen" (Kansas), the oldest child of Ernst Friedrich Heinrich and Anna Christina (Frauhiger) Westermann on May 23, 1913. He grew up in the farmhouse in which he was born until age six, when his father moved the family to Brighton, Colorado. He spent the rest of his childhood and youth in that town where he was confirmed at Zion Lutheran Church and graduated from Brighton High School. In 1933 he began to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder, and supported his studies by working in the Great Western Sugar factory in Brighton. At the university, he discovered a love for history, and went on to receive a bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. in European and English history with an emphasis in Medieval History. Dr.Westermann wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, whose "Dicta" became a life-long research interest.
In 1942 he married Esther Elizabeth (Heckman). After teaching briefly in LaGrande and Ashland, Oregon and Trinidad, Colorado, he moved to Kansas City in 1946 where he began teaching history at UMKC (then University of Kansas City). After teaching for several years, and becoming a chairman of the Department of History, he became Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1960, a position he held until 1973. He fully retired from teaching in 1987.
Among those who will miss him are the many students whom he influenced and who remember him with deep affection and gratitude. In 2001, Dr. Westermann was honored by the establishment of the Westermann Medieval Studies collection at the UMKC Library. This collection was established by a former student, Thomas D. Barr and his wife, Cornelia, to honor Dr.Westermann 's teaching and research. Mr. Barr, an attorney, credited Dr. Westermann for the lifelong love and interest in history which enriched his practice of law. Mr. Barr and other students also established the Edwin J. Westermann Scholarship Fund, which supports the UMKC Chancellor's Scholar Award.
Dr. Westermann was preceded in death by his wife and an infant daughter, Erica Louise. He is survived by his daughter, the Reverend Christine Mote Gilson, a son-in-law, Dr. Preston A. Gilson, both of Lebanon, Missouri; a granddaughter, Genevieve Rose Gilson of Athens, Ohio; three sisters, Annette Waiss, Irma Bettger and Lenore Westermann , all of Brighton, Colorado; a brother, Ernst J. (Bud) Westermann of Loveland, Colorado; several nieces and nephews, and many friends.
Services will be held Friday, May 23, at 10 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, 5601 W. 62nd Street, Mission, Kansas 66202. Burial will be at Memorial Park Cemetery following the service. Visitation will be held 5-7 p.m. Thursday at D.W. Newcomer's Sons Overland Park Chapel, 8201 Metcalf. Memorials may be made to Trinity Lutheran Church or to the Westermann Medieval Studies Fund at UMKC Libraries, 5100 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO 64110. (Arrangements: D.W. Newcomer's Sons Overland Park Chapel, 8201 Metcalf (913) 648-6224)