The English Department Mourns Professor John Gabel

January 17, 2012
John Gabel.

The OSU English Department is sad to announce the passing of our former colleague and Chair, John Gabel, who died Saturday, January 7 in Columbus.

John Gabel began his journey at The Ohio State University as a graduate student, earning a PhD in English in 1961. He then returned to OSU and became Chair of  English, guiding the  Department through some of its most difficult times in the 1970’s. He later served as Dean of the Graduate School.

Gabel is noted particularly for his work in Renaissance studies as well as his influential publications on the Bible as literature. 

He was known for his good humor and inclusive nature. He always served where needed and was an active member of various OSU organizations and associations. He served as both mentor and friend to many of the faculty and students. Even after his time with the English Department he remained invested in the English Department and OSU community and his loss will be keenly felt by all he touched.


Remarks for John Gabel: the full text of  the eulogy by Professor David Frantz, Saturday, January 14, 2012


John was the embodiment of "University citizen" … a great mentor; he was the best reader/editor of manuscripts anyone could want. … And behind that Pennyslvania Dutch (by which we mean German) façade of no nonsense was a man of great good humor and a powerful heart. He believed in community and inclusion and he practiced it, whether at the lunch table at the faculty club or the department as a whole.  -- David Frantz, Professor Emeritus

I'm saddened to hear of the death of John Gabel.  He was … a true scholar and gentleman.  Over the years I enjoyed our occasional theological debates when late afternoons would find us alone on one wing of 5th floor Denney.  John respected inquiry. He was also a very good poker player; and his wife Betty a gem, especially in the welcoming of young faculty. -- Walter A. Davis, Professor Emeritus

No one served more—or as much—as a mentor or model. John returned to OSU early in my years in the Department, and he soon became a major presence in my world here, and in the lives and worlds of so many others.  -- Morris Beja, Professor Emeritus

John was the epitome of a decent and honorable person, and even the last time I saw him (late last Spring), he was very interested in all the news of the department, the changes to semesters, the ways we reconfigured the curriculum (for better and for worse).  … He played a large role in shaping the department through quiet statesmanship long after he retired.  He was, truly, a dear man, and I will miss him.  -- Marlene Longenecker, Emeritus