In Memory

Manfred Deckert

Dear colleagues and friends, Manfred Deckert has passed away in Heidelberg on the 8th of May 2017, 23 days after his 85th birthday. He is survived by his son Wulf Deckert.

I first met Manfred in February 1979 when Area Director Larry Hepinstall sent him and me to Holland to co-teach a weekend seminar on Africa at Brunssum. On our way in Manfred’s car, my jaw almost dropped upon hearing from him that he was 50 years old! Well, I was 29 then. And the striking age difference between us instantly evoked my honorific deference towards him. It turned out, on our trip back, that he had inflated his age by three years to impress me about how long he had been with UMUC. That’s how our long friendship began.

Manfred was an extremely kind-hearted man, with deep respect for students in particular, and immensely reliable as a friend; the only beings he never appeared to cope very well with were dogs; and they apparently couldn’t tolerate him either: On the numerous occasions when he came on a visit to my house near Speyer, my dog promptly felt threatened and would bark for hours on end until Manfred found good reason to take his leave.

Later on – towards the end of the first decade of the millennium - as he painfully felt the slow decline of his health and believed that he might no longer continue with his services to UMUC Europe and the usual long commutes to meet the cherished students, my conversations with him revealed an almost traumatized – at times lonely – person cutting a dejected figure and still clinging steadfastly to an eventual recovery to get himself back to a life role which, by that time and on account of the sustained military base closures, no longer held any real long-term promise for most of us UMUC Europe instructors.

Until reaching his present safe haven, the last few years had found Manfred afflicted with multiple age-related disabilities that pretty much left him unable to experience life outside his assisted living space. However, like a proverbial bounce-back kid, even in the most painful crisis of his private life, he advanced to the honorable contest again, and again - almost always with complete triumph.

For my part, I continued to visit, interact with him and routinely transact multiple bureaucratic paperwork on his behalf. As always, mentally agile and extremely fond of reminiscing about the accumulated details of our shared UMUC lore, his incessant wishes to know about old UMUC colleagues and administrators whose whereabouts I myself was no longer in a position to report on, could be veritably nervy at times... I never wavered from assuring him that he was still connected like everyone else – through our shared memories.

Manfred’s career as a history lecturer with UMUC Europe spanned over five decades. Among the motley crew of our ‘gypsy’ collective, there can be no doubt that the memory of Manfred Deckert surely deserves a special place on the lofty registry of our individual accomplishments. May he rest in peace.

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05/12/17 08:29 AM #1    

John Nolan

A lovely homage from Patrick Dua here, and I especially want to thank Patrick for his long and steadfast friendship with Manfred, standing by him through all the change the university went through in the later years of Manfred's career, and then through the years of health challenges that followed.  I am sorry to hear the news that Manfred is now gone, but thank you for passing it on with such sensitivity. You are a good man Patrick!

Manfred was a real gentleman and a scholar of a high order. I first met him when I became academic director for History in 2002, when I was priveliged to visit his class on Islam in Africa, and was able to get to know him well due to his visits to the Heidelberg HQ, which were frequent in those days and always welcome. When the weather was nice we spent many hours in the smoking areas, sharing information about two of our personal interests ( at that time), pipe smoking and old Audis ( we happened to have the same model and were both always looking for spare parts). Always a keen observor of world events, his analysis was always razor sharp and clear. It was a joy to share those conversations with him. One always learned soemthing new in every conversation with Manfred, and I can truly say I learned a lot from him.  He was, on the other hand, sometimes confused and sadened by the changes in the university, which I did my best to explain to him.  It was sometimes a little sad to see him thrown into a world virtually unrecognizable  from the one in which he started his career with us, a man whose time was passing him by. But he bore it all well with good, if at times slightly crusty, humor, and of course colorful language!  It was a great pleasure  to know him and spend time with him. I have missed my time with him for many years since my move to the UK, and will miss him even more now. Rest in Peace Manfred- and have a pipe for me on the other side.   

05/13/17 12:33 PM #2    

Diane Jones-Palm

Thanks so much Patrick and John for your wonderful memories.  I am also one who remembers his kindness and his dedication to his students and UMUC.  Indeed, was a wonderful colleague and special man.     Diane Jones-Palm

09/04/17 01:12 PM #3    

Penelope Roberts

Wulf and Adriano, being about the same age, Manfred and I hung out quite a bit when they were young.  He introduced me to the square pizza. 

I'm not sure where we went,(memory fades), except for one trip to Speyer.  I was calling out directions and Manfred was driving.  I said, "turn left," and he drove into the intersection and turned left.  The honking and confusion soon sorted itself and we carried on.  Manfred was shocked that I didn't tell him to stop at the stop sign. I was shocked that he thought he had to be told to stop when the sign was obvious.

This mishap didn't seem to have much of an impact because i can still recall driving around to some scenic forests, museums, and walking in small towns around Heidelberg.

He was sweet and very gentlemanly and never asked me anything about Adriano, accepting him as who he was.  My condolences to Wulf. 

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