Orange Alert

Memorial service planned for Gerlinde Ulm Sanford Nov. 9

German professor spent more than four decades at SU

Oct. 14, 2010, by Rob Enslin

Gerlinde Ulm Sanford, a German scholar-teacher of international repute, will be memorialized in a public service on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 4 p.m. in Syracuse University’s Hendricks Chapel. The program includes music by Mozart and Mahler, as well as readings and remembrances by members of The College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics (LLL), with which Sanford was affiliated.

The service is being organized by Arts and Sciences Dean George M. Langford, who will host a public reception afterward in the Killian Room (room 500) of the Hall of Languages. For more information, call at 315-443-2201.

Sanford joined the LLL faculty in 1969, eventually rising to the rank of professor and to chair of the department. Also, she served as the German Program Coordinator and briefly directed SU Abroad programs in Vienna, Florence, and Strasbourg, a position that earned her SU’s Distinguished Service Award. She died on Tuesday, April 27, at the age of 70, following a long illness. 

“Gerlinde was an inspiration to students and faculty alike,” says Langford. “She was a disciplined worker who never complained once, and always motivated people to do their very best. Her death has left a void in the community.”  The dean will also memorialize her at a College faculty meeting on Friday, Oct. 29.   

Born in Austria, where she earned a Ph.D. in German at the University of Vienna, Sanford came to the United States in 1965 and taught briefly at Mississippi State University. Her interest in linguistic studies, the German writer Goethe, and modern Austrian literature led her to SU, where she achieved recognition as a scholar, teacher, and administrator. Sanford is remembered for editing the extensive correspondence between Goethe and his son, August, in addition to publishing a dictionary of Viennese professional names and a concordance for Friedrich Schiller’s philosophical and esthetic writings.

Colleagues estimate that Sanford taught no fewer than four dozen German courses at SU, advised nearly a thousand students, and served on more than 80 academic committees.

“The combination of extraordinary dedication to others and the huge amount of outstanding scholarly work made her truly exceptional,” says Karina von Tippelskirch, assistant professor of German in LLL. “She has been one of the most caring people of my career.”

Erika Haber, associate professor of Russian, echoes these sentiments. “Gerlinde was the kindest, most genuine person I’ve met at SU,” she explains. “She gave absolutely everything she had to her students, to her colleagues, and to her research, right up until the very end.”

Sanford is survived by her husband, William Sanford, of Hattiesburg, Mississippi; her sisters Helga Meiler (Germany), Edith Koestler (Austria), and Gertrude Hillebrand (Austria); her brother, Wolfgang Ulm (Austria); and three nieces. All three of Gerlinde’s sisters and one of her nieces are scheduled to attend the memorial. 

Media Contact

Rob Enslin