Claremont, Calif (July 23, 2009)—Werner Warmbrunn, founding member of the Pitzer College faculty and professor of history for nearly three decades, died peacefully at home on July 19, 2009, at the age of 89.
Professor Warmbrunn was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1920. He immigrated to the United States in 1941. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Cornell University, he began his teaching career at Putney School in Vermont. He received his PhD from Stanford University, where he later served in a variety of administrative posts for 12 years. In 1963, he was recruited by Pitzer’s first president, John Atherton, to be Pitzer’s first professor of history.
Professor Warmbrunn helped design the academic programs for the new college in months before and after the arrival of Pitzer’s pioneer class of students. He is perhaps best known for his work in developing Pitzer’s unique community governance structure. He served on many committees, including the Faculty Executive Committee and two presidential search committees. Professor Warmbrunn ensured that Pitzer’s history would be recorded by founding an archive where papers, announcements and documents were preserved.
A passionate and committed teacher, Professor Warmbrunn was a recipient, in 1985, of the Pitzer College Alumni Association’s Academic Excellence Award. He was awarded a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship to continue his research on Belgium under German occupation during World War II. He became a professor emeritus in 1991.
Warmbrunn’s published works include The Dutch Under German Occupation and The German Occupation of Belgium. In recent years, he was active in the Claremont Democratic Club, serving as a senior author of The Claremont Manifesto.
He is survived by his wife, Loretta; daughters Erika and Susan; his step-children Linda Schone, Wes Fretter, Dianna Davis and Cynthia Fretter; and his grandchildren Andrea, Breanna, Zach, Matt and Lindsey.
A private family memorial will be held. Donations in honor of Professor Warmbrunn can be made to Pitzer College, where a scholarship will be created in his name.
A public memorial will occur at Pitzer College this fall.
Update 07.29.22: A previous version of this announcement stated that Professor Warmbrunn was Pitzer’s founding dean of faculty; he was the College’s first academic assistant to the president; Charlotte D. Elmott was the first dean of the college, according to the Pitzer College Bulletin: 1964-65 Catalog.