2004-2005 Spotlight Archives
Lucian Marquis: Intellectual Inspirer
This obituary originally appeared in the Claremont Courier on Jan. 26, 2005. The remembrance of Professor Marquis’ life was written by Patricia Yarborough and is reprinted with the kind permission of the Claremont Courier.
An influence on the hundreds of devoted students he taught and mentored during a 50-year career as a teacher, Lucian Charles Marquis died on January 21, 2005 at his Claremont home at the age of 84 from the effects of Parkinson’s disease.
Mr. Marquis, whose work at Pitzer College in Claremont is recognized by the Lucian Marquis Library at the college, fled with his family from Nazi Germany at the age of 12. The family lived for a time in Rome before immigrating to Beverly Hills, California where he graduated from high school in 1937.
Mr. Marquis was a graduate of the Black Mountain College in North Carolina, a somewhat avant-garde institution of its day, in 1942.
After trying unsuccessfully to enlist in the military, Mr. Marquis used his proficiency in German, French and Italian as a monitor of German radio broadcasts for the United Press.
In 1943, Mr. Marquis joined the 86th Blackhawk Division of the US Army and served as a combat infantryman during the Battle of the Bulge and later as a scout and interrogator.
Following the war, Mr. Marquis began his teaching career at Windsor Mountain School in Massachusetts. In 1947, he was married to Jane Slater, a fellow graduate of Black Mountain College.
Graduate study followed with a master’s degree from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1951 and a doctoral degree, also from UCLA, in 1959.
Mr. Marquis joined the political science faculty at the University of Oregon where he taught until 1966. He was the university’s first director of its Honors College and received the Ersted Award for Distinguished Teaching. He also led one of the first anti-war protests against American involvement in Viet Nam.
During his years in Oregon, Mr. Marquis was a Senior Fulbright lecturer at the University of Exeter in England in 1960-61 and at the University of Turin in 1965-66. Then and in later years, he and his wife traveled extensively to Europe.
1966 brought Mr. Marquis to Pitzer College and Claremont. Here he taught political science as well as Elderhostel courses and non-traditional multi-disciplinary learning programs. He also taught at the Graduate Institute of St. John’s University in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In addition to the library that bears his name, he was recognized in 1982 by the Pitzer College Alumni Association’s Annual Academic Excellence Award “for his ability to inspire students”.
Mr. Marquis’ articles and reviews have appeared in professional journals and a number of his short stories have been published in The Yale Review, The Pacific Spectator and the North American Review. He also served for a time on the board of directors for the Southern California CORO foundation.
In Claremont, COURIER publisher Martin Weinberger recalls of Mr. Marquis, “He had a strong sense of independence. He was an intellectual in the best use of the term. He felt a very strong obligation to defeat the Nazis. He was always very conscious of intellectual as well as community involvement.”
A Pitzer College report on Mr. Marquis in 1995 stated, “Conducting a review of Lucian Marquis’ teaching is a little like a high school violinist passing judgment on the virtuosity of Issac Stern.”
Mr. Marquis is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jane Marquis of Claremont; by his son, Joshua Marquis of Astoria, Oregon; by his daughter, Annie Marquis of Claremont; by his daughter-in-law, Cindy Price of Astoria; and by many nieces and nephews, along with many former students.
A memorial service will be scheduled in March 2005 at The Claremont Colleges. The family has requested that any memorial donations by made to the VNA and Hospice Service of Southern California, 150 W. First St., Claremont 91711.