Gonzaga University Archives

Thank you to all who shared memories of Franz Schneider, who contacted Gonzaga Magazine to point out that his “tenure at Gonzaga was 40 years of voluntary servitude, ending with the Arnold Lecture in 1998. I hated to stop teaching even then, but time and time wait for no man – or woman.”


’59 C. Delos Putz, San Francisco: Franz Schneider was an inspirational teacher – in and out of the classroom. His love of great literature and poetry came through in his teaching, and his enthusiasm was contagious. In the fall of 1958, his course in classical literature included Virgil’s Aeneid. I still remember “Hot-eyed Dido” and I have the 95 cent paperback edition we used on my bookshelf. Classes with Franz often continued in discussions over coffee at Fallon’s. They may have started with literature, but they didn’t stop there. We often talked politics, a subject dear to his heart. Having survived Nazi Germany, Franz knew the importance of politics very personally – and he shared that with us. He was always interested in hearing what we though on almost any subject. More than most professors, he was interested in his students as individuals. Franz was an athlete, a boxer in his youth and an avid mountaineer. I remember him taking me and Joe McCarthy, a classmate of mine, on an outing in nearby Idaho to go “bouldering.” I have a vivid recollection of Franz coming down a rock slope very fast, leaping from rock to rock like a mountain goat, with a huge grin on his face. One of the great lessons he taught by example was the importance of enjoying the moment.

’63 Elmer “Ned” Johnston, Everett, Wash.: My guess is that your “mystery Zag” is Franz Schneider who was teaching literature when I attended Gonzaga law School. This was from 1959 to 1963. I recall meeting Franz through Henry Huttenbach, teacher of German literature and also a symphony conductor for the University Philharmonic. Franz was first and foremost brave. He suffered physically from the aftermath of his difficult experiences on the Russian Front as a member of the retreating German army in the east. He was also not afraid to challenge the commonly held views many had concerning nuclear retaliation against the Soviet Union. He convinced me that if we were to bomb the Soviet Union in retaliation, we would be guilty of the same “end justifies the means” logic as the Soviets and therefore be no different from them in the end. He was a brilliant teacher of literature and drama, and was full of enthusiasm, information and challenges to his students. Away from the classroom, he could be found fishing when not tending to his growing family. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute.

’64 Hans Weber, San Diego: The mystery Zag is Dr. Franz Schneider. Although I never took a class from him he had a critically important impact on my life. In September, 1962 I enrolled at GU as a foreign student form Germany on a non-degree program. I signed up exclusively for physics and math classes because that was my chosen field of study. For a change of pace I also took a Spanish class. I had come on a one-year Fulbright Scholarship fresh out of German high school plus one semester at the Gutenberg Universitaet in Mainz, Germany. The objective of this particular type of Fulbright program was to have foreign students learn about the U.S. during their year of study, more so than placing major emphasis on academic pursuits.  One day in October I got a message from one Franz Schneider to meet him in his office in the English Department. Given his German name I expected that he would want to chat with me about Germany. Instead, after introducing himself, he came right to the point: Would I be interested in changing to a degree program? Completely unbeknownst to me he had reviewed my German high school and university transcripts and had convinced the academic vice president, Fr. Taylor, to offer me a chance at getting my B.S. (major math, minor physics) in two years. He explained that I already fulfilled most math and physics requirements to graduate, but that I had a lot of catching up to do in a few other subjects, especially philosophy. When Fr. Taylor signed off on the program after my interview with him, I set out on a course of my life that I hadn’t expected.

I did obtain my B.S. in 1964. I also met my future wife, Mary Mannino (’66). Under the provisions of my Fulbright visa I had to return to Germany for two years. After two years of graduate study at the Technical University in Aachen, Germany, I immigrated in 1966  and finished my studies in California. Mary and I got married in 1968 and I naturalized in 1971. We have been most blessed in our lives and would not want to have had them turn out any other way – thanks to Franz Schneider’s intervention. We have stayed in touch with Franz and his wife, Ann, throughout the years. They live in a retirement community in Oregon.

’66 Enrique Cuan-Pérez, Wellesley, Mass.: Among those who had the privilege of knowing him and taking his Comparative Literature course, who wouldn’t recognize the radiant face of Franz Schneider?!  As I remember him, Dr. Schneider was an inspiring teacher. He was an unassuming scholar who exuded intellectual vibrancy and humility. His lectures on Comparative Literature were imbued with a deep knowledge of the subject and with the ever vitality of his wisdom. He inculcated in his students that literature abounds in fancies bred in the heart rather than in the head. Even though his Comparative Literature class was taught in English, as a native German and the perceptive linguist that he was, he would occasionally give fresh insights into the German word “sprachgeist,” to illuminate the ways of feeling and thinking of other writers. What a wonderful teacher he was.

’68 Michael “Whitey” McGonigle, Astoria, Ore.: Aaahh, folks! The nose, the glasses, the thinning hair.  Especially the joy in the smiling laugh! The “Mystery Zag” of the Fall, 2012 issue of GONZAGA can be no other than Dr. Franz Schneider. Under his influence, combined with that of English department colleagues Sisk and McDermott, the weak bonds holding a very green freshman in 1964 to mathematics  and chemical engineering dissolved. I was freed to begin a life of charting my own course. I am rarely so certain of my choices. I did see through the classic ‘red herring’ of describing Dr. Schneider as “…this German professor…” rather than as  ‘this German-born professor’. The tell-tale clue is above his right shoulder at the top of the blackboard:  Dante (Beatrice). Thanks for the fun of this and a much larger cascade of memories held warmly.

’69 Richard Baldasty, Spokane: Professor Franz K. Schneider, Mystery Zag? Rather, I think, a consummate Gonzagan: classic, Romantic, and modern. Even more than how finely he taught literature, he exemplified its receptivity to experience. Sometimes in frosty winter, his morning walk to class took him by the pavilion; there he’d snip a rosebud already perfumed in bloom, sheltered obscurely by warmth from exhaust vents, and fix it to his lapel. Now, much older than he was then, I still learn, as memory of such alert and generous presence sets off “Aha!” in my mind. That I read poetry nearly every day, soon half a century onward, is but part of the debt. Websites such as RateMyProfessors.com should consider a built-in delay mechanism. At the time, I knew it was good; but, fullness, that’s later, that’s mystery.

’69 Mary (Standish) Seltzer, Deming, N.M.: That’s my favorite teacher of all time, Franz Schneider, who was the director of the Honors Program when I started at Gonzaga in 1965. Dr. Schneider was an inspiring and exacting poetry teacher as well as a poet in his own right.  He once described to us his experience as a college student in Germany after WWII, picking through the rubble of their school with other students to recover the books they needed for their classes.  Dr. Schneider made a lasting impact on my life and is one of my favorite Gonzaga memories. Thanks for the opportunity to remember him.

’72 Lisa Seiler Weaver, Spokane: It is Dr Franz Schneider. A fantastic teacher! I was so pleased when I got to teach his daughter, Katie, at St Aloysius School in fourth grade.

’72 Marceen Zappone, SpokaneIt sure looks like Franz Schneider.  He was my neighbor for many years. And the only person I knew who had a bomb shelter in their home.

’80 Cam Sylvester, North Vancouver, B.C.: Dr. Franz Schneider was my English Prof for “Yeats and Eliot,” as well as my final capstone course, “Alienation and Aggression in Modern Black Literature.” (For a time he also filled in to teach our senior Criticism course when Dr. Kornel Skovasja unfortunately suffered a stroke.) I have two memories of the Alienation and Aggression course in particular. It was team taught by three profs – Dr. Schneider, a philosopher, and a psychiatrist – and classes were held once a week at Franz and Ann Schneider’s house. I don’t know if they were intentionally modeling alienation and aggression or not, but as the course went on, one of the instructors was alienated more and more by the other two and became more verbally aggressive as the semester wore on. Excellent, innovative pedagogy, I must say. Also, the semester before the course was held, I had enough sections to take a semester off and stay with my parents in Nanaimo, B.C., as my dad moved into his new job as president of the college there. But I continued to write a column under a pseudonym for the Bulletin, which turned into a four-part satire of Gonzaga. In class one night, Franz spoke about the column, and asked if I knew who had written it, as I was once an editor of the paper. I said I didn’t know the author. As the evening wore he asked me the same question two more times. After I denied it the third time, he smiled and said: “And the cock crowed.” Franz was a passionate and compassionate instructor, who demanded excellence, but with patience helped you reach it. And his daughter Roberta was an excellent classmate: she even let me play her beloved cello one night after a few too many Rainier beers – a brave action indeed.

’81 Marie Doyle, Seattle: That cheery fellow is Franz Schneider, one of my most dear English professors. His love of poetry was contagious; he’d often read aloud to us. If you visited his office with an academic question, and he noticed that you were a bit blue, he’d pull down a volume and administer a dose of poetic medicine. It was this sweetness and compassion, his intuitive ability to detect sorrow and want to heal it, that set him far apart. But I believe his qualities were his response to pain and suffering. One afternoon, when many of our class were sleepy from our noon meal and the sun coming through the windows, he began to describe – cryptically – coming to America and some of the horrors he’d lived through. I was instantly awake, riveted. Many around me were still groggy, uncomprehending. His eyes were filled with tears. It was only a few sentences, and then back to his regular cheery self, but he’d given me a glimpse of what he overcame every day to be the professor whose balm was poetry.


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