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Queen’s remembers Professor Emerita Anna Matzov

Anna MatzovThe Queen’s community is remembering Professor Emerita Anna Matzov, who died Jan. 16. She was 88.

Dr. Matzov taught Russian language and literature at Queen’s for 30 years and was a recognized authority on Boris Pasternak (Dr. Zhivago), and Mikhail Bakhtin and Literary Criticism.

Dr. Matzov was born in 1933 in Pinsk, Poland (now Pinsk, Belarus) and grew up under Stalin’s rule. Around the age of seven, her family was exiled to Siberia. Ironically, this exile likely saved their lives as the rest of her extended family in Poland tragically perished under Hitler.

In 1946, she and her family wound up at a displaced person’s camp in Germany for four years where she started her high school studies. In 1950, the family immigrated to the new state of Israel. Dr. Matzov embraced her new country and life, quickly mastering Hebrew (her fifth of six languages). After serving in the army, she earned her first degree in 1956 (Physics, Math & Statistics) at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She followed her passion for teaching, earning her Teaching Diploma a few years later.

In 1967, Dr. Matzov, her husband and her young family immigrated to Canada, settling in Kingston in 1968 where she embarked on a new career path. In 1970, she earned a BA Honours (Russian and Math) from Queen’s, followed by her MA (1973) and PhD (1984) in Slavonic Studies from the University of Ottawa.

Shortly after she was hired at Queen’s and during her time introduced Scientific Russian, an innovative course which she taught at Queen’s and the Royal Military College.

Throughout her distinguished academic career, Dr. Matzov taught and contributed to professional literature and was part of the Learned Societies. Her teaching attracted and inspired students from many disciplines.

A fiercely independent thinker, Dr. Matzov was a pragmatic optimist with a warm heart and querying mind. Her personal trials and tribulations, from wars to health challenges, strengthened her resolve and resilience to make the best of things. “Never a dull moment” she would often say. Enlightened and passionate about learning, she was an inspiration, catalyst, and cheerleader for many. She had a genuine interest in people of all ages and backgrounds, forging many friendships throughout her life. She found solace in family and friends. She was drawn to the many expressions of creativity, from art, music, and literature to teaching, cooking, and developing young minds.

Dr. Matzov valued family, friendship, loyalty, authenticity, originality, an open mind, and a good soul. She strove – and succeeded – to inspire many a mind and heart to be our best selves and make the most of life. She never stopped expanding her mind – she was truly “an amazing work in progress.”