In Memory

Bill Harlowe

submitted by Daniel Curzon-Brown
William (“Bill”) Harlowe died in London  on March 19, 2020, from an infection at the age of ninety-two. He was born in Shreveport, Louisiana on December 8, 1927.
He earned the B.A. and two M.A. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley, and with Maryland taught a variety of courses in government and history.
His teaching career with the University of Maryland Overseas Program stretched over about 45 years---from the late 1960s to the early 2000s. In his early years, with Maryland, Bill often went back and forth between the European Division and the then Far East Division. Certainly, he taught in many far-away places with strange sounding names---and was always able to handle the situations with outstanding classroom teaching no matter the geographic assignments that came his way. During the latter half of his teaching career with Maryland, he taught primarily in the U.K. But he visited Heidelberg frequently to attend Commencements, faculty meetings, and to serve as the U.K. Faculty Representative.
Something of an eccentric, but in an always friendly, positive manner, Bill apparently never completed the formal application for his retirement benefits. Rather, he got by on Social Security and a rent-controlled apartment in London.
A sophisticated gentle person, Bill enjoyed the cosmopolitan advantages of a large city such as  London---frequenting the theatre, concerts, the cinema  (both new and vintage), the opera, and museums. He hated cats, garlic, grease on French Fries, and loved good conversation. He was a die-hard liberal until the end.

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03/29/20 11:55 AM #1    

Sharon Skibinski (Kissick)

Dear Bill,

Thank you so much for all you taught me...and although a liberal to the end, you always taught with balance. You were one of the smartest people I have known.  I'll never forget when you taught LIBS150 and although not your favorite class, you taught it...I had vowed to avoid your classes....until you taught a government class at the last minute and I was in education love.  Your mild manner...plastic bag toting...(were those papers and tests lost in those bags somewhere??)...your brain squeezing essay exams...and dry humor you shared.  I gained a love of politics and history taking your classes and went on to take 5 or 6 more with you.  Thank you for all I learned from you and the brain food you provided.  I will live wondering if my term papers were in a plastic bag in the depths of that London apartment somewhere....

Sharon Kissick

03/29/20 12:08 PM #2    

Stephanie Bechtel (Gooding)

Ah, I am so sorry to hear that Bill has died. Bless his heart. He was such a sweet man. I first met him at 7 North Audley in London when I was first working for City Colleges, before I taught for UMUC. That was in 2001. I was not, in any way, computer literate. I passed by him one day as he looked very puzzled while staring at the computer screen.

He said, "Steph, do you know how to get to the bottom of the page?"

I said, "Here, Bill, this is how you scroll down."  At that time, that was about the extent of my knowledge.

However, from that time on if anyone had an I.T. problem, Bill would say, "Oh, just ask Steph. She knows all about these things." I had NEVER been anyone's computer expert before that or since, only  Bill's.

He told my second, and much younger,  husband one time that I was a "free spirit," and my husband brings that up frequently when I do anything "odd."

I taught on RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath bases along side him for many years. He was such fun and such a kind soul. 

I last saw him when Raju and I had lunch with Bill in London several years ago at a Middle Eastern restaurant. I will miss knowing he is sharing this earth with me. Rest in peace, old friend.

Stephanie Gooding

03/29/20 02:24 PM #3    

Hugo Keesing

In my year as Area Director, UK (1973/74) Bill was already a valued member of the "have notes - will tavel" faculty.  He was willing to teach where needed and popular with and respected by his students.

Hugo Keesing

03/30/20 04:15 AM #4    

John Nolan

Oh no- I'm sorry to hear this. I had so many great expereinces talking to Bill over the years, he was always so welcoming to a much younger colleague. My favorite Bill memory  though, is the time  that we at headquarters were tasked with tracking down all outstanding expenses claims. I called Bill, and after some extensive arm twisting, got him to agree to track down his records and actually file- he said he hadn't  gotten around to it for a little while. Well, when we got his report, it turned out he hadn't claimed expenses in over TEN YEARS, and we owed him something in the realm of 33,000$!  He also had a great story he told me about hitchhiking in Vietnam while he was teaching there ( during the war), only to discover they had gotten a lift with the Viet Cong! A real one of a kind character.   

A great teacher beloved by his students and colleagues, a knowledgable scholar, Bill will be sorely missed. 

03/30/20 06:36 AM #5    

Ronald Schlundt

As a fellow Faculty Representative, I knew Bill well, especially from our long sessions with the administration in Heidelberg and during many history/government faculty meetings   His eccentricities were legendary indeed—one of the most famous was his aversion to filling  out expense voucher forms.  Although the “rule” was that they had to be turned in once a year, Bill was noted for submitting  five years or more at a time. For him, the Heidelberg office always ignored the policy and paid him in full—the Harlowe exception.  He will be much remembered and missed.


Ron Schlundt  

04/01/20 12:20 PM #6    

Teresa (Terry) Castaldi

As a new instructor for the Asian Division in 1983, I had been told by a senior faculty member during orientation that I would hate Korea, my first assignment.  "It's dirty, crowded and just awful.  You'll never be able to keep your clothes clean," he said much to my dismay.  The next day, after flying into Japan, I was introduced to a colleague with a sunny smile which matched his optimistic demeanor.  "Why you're going to love Korea, Terry," he exclaimed.  "I just love it there.  The people are wonderful, and you'll love it, too."  That ws my first introduction to my dear friend Bill Harlowe, a kind and gentle soul, who always radiated good will and cheer.  It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.  And, indeed, we went on to share many a meal and conversation together in Korea and then Japan, including a memorable Thanksgiving feast at Osan AFB.  After I left UMUC, we met up in NYC, my hometown, whenever Bill was visiting and took in a play, a museum exhibit or just had lunch together to reminisce and discuss the news of the day - usually politics.  We also met in London one year.  With Bill, it didn't matter how many years had passed by before we got together, for we immediately fell back into an easy friendship  despite the passage of time.  Bill was one of a kind:  a brilliant scholar, gentleman, a great conversationalist with a terrific sense of humor and a kind and caring friend.  I'll miss you.  Rest in peace, dear friend.  And Bill ws right:  I loved Korea!

Teresa (Terry) Castaldi

04/01/20 09:53 PM #7    

Chris Payne

I was very sorry to hear of the death of Bill Harlowe. I got to kn0w him well during the twenty  years or so I spent teaching for UMUC in the UK. Bill was a great man to know - an excellent conversationalist, unfailingly positive and cheerful. We often talked of the arts - Bill liked film, music, drama - and politics. A geek like me was able to I learn a lot from him. He was a mainstay of the UMUC setup in England and, as an anglo[phile,  he enjoyed living there. He will be sadly missed by all his very many friends, not to mention the thousands of students whose lives he touched.. My sympathy to all those who were privileged to have known a great teacher, colleague and human being.

04/05/20 08:22 AM #8    

Pauline Fry

I vividly remember Bill Harlowe, always interesting, and a good listener, a rare gift. We passed many hours together as faculty reps at meetings in Heidelburg. Over the years, Bill  slowly revealed aspects of his life in Bloomsbury that he loved-- plays, new books, a particular restaurant. He also loved teaching and his students, though as we moved into the 21st century he was less happy with the technology we were asked to master!

The mental picture I will always have is Bill entering a room, dressed as an eccentric professor which in many ways he was; always cheerful, smiling, and then disarming one with a perfect ironic comment. 

Good-bye Bill Harlowe, you were a great addition to all our lives.


--Pauline Fry




04/13/20 08:40 PM #9    

Ggisela Nass

It is still difficult for me to accept that Bill has left this earthplane. He was such a brilliant,  insightful, humble man; a world-wide traveler who observed other cultural traditons, history and art with a keen and sincere interest; a trusted and non-judgmental friend. Our friendship goes back very many years to Asia. Later, during the 1990s, we enjoyed his annual New Year's visits in San Francisco; and during more recent years, when visiting my family in England, we would always meet at the British Museum for long lunches and catch-up discussions. Knowing Bill has made my life so much richer; I will always treasure his memory.


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