Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

The Magazine Of Queen's University

Search form

In memoriam: February 2019

In memoriam: February 2019

[photo of stained-glass windows in Grant Hall]

[photo of Dr. Joseph Polzer]Joseph Polzer, former professor and head of the Department of Art, died Nov. 17, 2018, aged 89. Born in Vienna, the only child of Karl Polzer (born in Vienna, Austro-Hungarian Empire and Mirrha Cheifitz Polzer (born in Shklov, Tzarist Russia),  Joseph spent his childhood in Berlin until 1933, then in Vienna until 1938, when Austria joined the Nazi German Reich. After more than three years hiding in Vichy France, mostly in an O.S.E.-(Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants) sponsored home for Jewish children near Limoges, Joseph and his parents came to the U.S. in 1941 sponsored by a Quaker NGO.

Joseph graduated from the New York High School of Music and Art, and received his BA and MFA from Iowa State University, followed by his PhD in Art History from New York University. His doctoral thesis was a study of the ancient Roman mosaics in Piazza Armerina, Sicily. Joseph pursued a long and productive research and teaching career at several universities before retiring at the age of 75. He received tenure at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, where he taught from 1962 to 1973. He and his family moved to Canada in 1973, where he took up a position as head of the Department of Art at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Under his leadership, the Bachelor of Art Education program was transformed into a Bachelor of Fine Arts program with a revised undergraduate curriculum. In 1982, he accepted a position at the University of Calgary, where he taught until his retirement in 2003. Among his memories of life at Queen’s, he remembered with particular fondness the art library in Ontario Hall and playing lunchtime basketball with his son, Karl, who lived in Kingston for several years while working as a reporter for theWhig-Standard, and his colleague, Geoffrey Smith (Professor Emeritus, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies.).

Joseph Polzer was a consummate teacher and scholar. His areas of disciplinary specialization began with classical Roman art, and then shifted to pre- and early Renaissance Siennese and Tuscan painting, notably, the 14th century Triumph of Death frescos in the Camposanto in Pisa. His prolific record of scholarly publication continued following his retirement, with two posthumous articles to be published in the near future. The remarkable command that Joseph had of his subject in his later life was admirably acknowledged in a report of the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society of Medievalists. As reporter Randip Bakshi noted, Joseph’s presentation, “Concerning the iconography of Buffalmacco’s Inferno in the Campo Santo of Pisa”, was delivered “with no written draft and hardly any notes to read from” and “demonstrated the rigorous and exacting nature of scholarship that can only be expected from a previous generation of scholars.”Until the end of his life, Joseph Polzer was a passionate and committed art historian.

His first wife, Julie (Prutton), BEd'85, died in Kingston in 1990. He is survived by his second wife of more than 26 years, Kathleen (Chablani), who was by his side at the time of his death, and by his five children from his first marriage: Karl,  Natalie, Benjamin,  Melanie,  and Jessica, Artsci'91, and extended family.

Joe gifted his children with a love of nature and travel, a love of art and desire to engage in all of its forms, and a focused, committed work ethic. A family memorial will take place in June in Louisville.

Stewart Fyfe, BA'49, MA'55, (PhD, Manchester), Professor Emeritus (Political Studies), died Jan. 30. Recently predeceased by his beloved wife of 64 years, Jocelyn(née Rutherford). Loving father of Andrew (Nancy), Douglas (Claire), and Peter (Jennifer). Proud "Poppa" to grandchildren Adam and Emily, Katrina and Ewan, and Ian and Julia. Proud of his Scottish heritage and prairie roots, Stewart's life was dedicated to "making a difference.";As a dedicated member of the Queen's University community for more than six decades, he taught generations of students local government, created professional development programs for municipal staff, and provided counselling for students. Working as a consultant and an educator, his work took him to Europe and Russia; and across Canada from Newfoundland to Whitehorse. He was heavily involved in local government reform in Ontario, including chairing the commission which led to the formation of Waterloo Region. In Kingston, he was instrumental in the formation of the Art Collection Society and the City's Planning Department, assisted with neighbourhood improvement projects and the City's early efforts in heritage conservation, which became the foundation of the Ontario Heritage Act. For many years he was a member and chair of Kingston's Planning Committee and the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority. A voracious reader, avid Gaels football fan and lover of cottage life with his dear family at Lake Sir John and Eagle Lake. A memorial service will be held at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church(corner of Princess and Clergy Streets) in Kingston, on Saturday, April 27th at 2:30 p.m., with a reception to follow. As an expression of sympathy, donations may be made to the Arts '49 Principal Wallace Fellowship at Queen's University. Online condolences may be shared at: www.jamesreidfuneralhome.com.

Peter Galbraith, MD’56, Professor Emeritus (Hematology) and founder of the Division of Hematology at Queen’s, died Oct. 20.
Gerrit (Gerry) Wilde, Professor Emeritus (Psychology), died Jan. 1.

If you have memories of these professors you’d like to share, please write us: review@queensu.ca. Obituaries or links to obituaries are added to this page as they are received.


[cover image of Queen's Alumni Review issue 1, 2019, showing a photo of Alfred Bader]