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Dr. Walter Warzeski

Professor of History

Nominator: David Schaeffer '71

Difference MakerDavid's Memories: Bar none, Esther Willets was the best teacher I ever had.  When she taught The History of the Ancient World, she made every character, from cruel Caligula to silver-tongued Cicero, come alive for us students right there in the classroom.

But the faculty member who I would like to lift up is Dr. Walter C. Warzeski, whom I had for two courses, one being The History of the Middle Ages. As I recall, Dr. Warzeski always had the same mantra with which he opened the first class of each semester. He would say, with a glint in his eye, "Hello, I'm Dr. Walter Warzeski, some people say I am an "SOB". We'll see. Now let's get started.

"Of course, the Middle Ages in Europe were controlled by the Church at Rome and the Church at Constantinople. No king was crowned, no royal marriage allowed, no war fought without approval from the Pope in the West or the Patriarch in the East."

Dr. Warzeski knew and talked about every important person's idiosyncrasies. He knew all the fascinating backroom politics that guided decisions and ultimately influenced history. Heretics and the heresies they fostered, which drove church leaders to distraction, were of particular interest to Dr. Warzeski. He loved to tell us the measures and the unsavory characters church leaders would use to stamp out the heresies. So caught up was I in his lecturing that I decided to do my term paper on the Albigensian Heresy which flourished in Southern France for 30 years in the 13th century.

To be truthful, Dr. Warzeski's love for church history influenced me to go to the seminary where I concentrated my studies in church history, studying with Princeton scholar Dr. Scott Hendrix and Dr. H. George Anderson (who became presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).

Dr. Warzeski passed away in 2009.

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