Memorial Service for Silins Planned for December 17

December 5, 2005

Long-time German and Russian Professor Peteris M. Silins H’63 will be remembered at a memorial service at 2 p.m. on December 17 in the Wabash College Chapel.

Professor Silins passed away on November 5.

Born April 27, 1930 in Leningrad, Professor Silins was professor of German and Russian 37 years at Wabash College. Prior to his teaching career, he worked as steel specifications engineer at Checker Cab Company.

He earned an undergraduate degree from Michigan State University without ever attending high school. He immigrated from Ansbach, Germany during World War II with his mother, grandfather, and great aunt to Michigan when Bethany Reformed Church of Kalamazoo, Michigan sponsored the four refugees.

He was a two-time Fulbright Scholar, studied at the University of Mainz and Goethe Institute, Germany, and served the U.S. Army Intelligence as an interpreter and linguist in the European theater during the Korean Conflict. While serving in the Army Reserves, he taught Russian at the Army Language School at Moterrey, California.

After earning a master’s degree from Indiana University, he began teaching at Wabash. He continued to study German and Russian at Middlebury College in, Vermont.

His memberships included American Association of Teachers of German; American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages; Delta Phi Alpha, honorary German language society; Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, where he served as purple legionnaire and chapter advisor; Kalamazoo Latvian Heritage Center; and Indianapolis Latvian Community Center. He served as dean of students for the summer high school at Latvian Center Garezers, Three Rivers, Michigan

He was named honorary alumnus at Wabash College (Class of ‘63) in 1992 and retired in 1995. He and colleague Dick Strawn translated Rimsky-Korsakov’s "Night Before Christmas," performed by Indiana University Opera Theater and San Francisco Opera Company, and some of Beethoven’s work.

In 1971, he suffered a heart attack and began a fitness regimen, logging more than 35,000 miles on his bicycle. During retirement, he continued to lecture on various facets of World War II and numerous post-war cultural issues.

He was born April 27, 1930, at the former Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), growing up in Latvia. He married Regina Berzins, who died in 2002.

Survivors include daughter Renate (Rob) Norrell; son Peter (Becky) Silins; sisters-in-law Vanda (Robert) Zakis and Zeltite Berzins.

Memorials may be made to Latvian Center Carezers, 57732 Lone Tree Road, Three Rivers, MI 49093, or Animal Welfare League of Montgomery County, 1104 Big Four Arch Road, Crawfordsville, Indiana 47933.

 


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