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Wendell S. Dietrich

April 13, 2017
Wendell S. Dietrich
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Obituary for Wendell S. Dietrich
Wendell S. Dietrich, 86, a resident of Laurelmead in Providence, Rhode Island, died on April 13th from complications of Parkinson’s disease. Wendell was born in Syracuse, NY, the son of Sanford and Mary W. Dietrich. After his father’s death, Wendell moved with his mother and sister, Sylvia, to Princeton, NJ, where he started his academic career as a student at the Lawrenceville School, then continued on to obtain a B.A. from Princeton University. He subsequently completed his studies at Yale University, where he obtained a Bachelor of Divinity and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies. He became a Professor of Religious Studies and Judaic Studies at Brown University, where he remained from 1958 until his retirement in 2000. During his career, he also held visiting positions at Dartmouth College, Princeton University, and the Kaplan Center for Jewish Studies at Cape Town University in South Africa and was elected to the American Theological Society. During his time at Brown, he was a very active member of the University Community, and engaged with colleagues across the university while serving in many roles, including Chair of the Department of Religious Studies. He also was a passionate teacher who took immense pride in both challenging and mentoring his undergraduate and graduate students. He characterized himself as a Christian theologian interested in the history of Christian doctrine and moral traditions.
Wendell is survived by Betsy B. Dietrich, his loving wife of 52 years, his daughter Sarah Dietrich, her partner Susanne May, his son John Dietrich, daughter-in-law Dinusha Dietrich and grandchildren Lia and Timothy Dietrich.
A service to celebrate Wendell’s life will be held at the Barrington Presbyterian Church, 400 County Rd., Barrington, RI on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 11AM, with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to “Brown University” c/o the Brown Annual Fund-Scholarship Aid, Box 1877, Providence, RI 02912.
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