Chapman Professor Bergel, Schweitzer Expert, Dies at 89


Kurt Bergel, a longtime history professor at Chapman University and an expert on the work and life of the missionary doctor Albert Schweitzer, died at home Monday. He was 89.

Bergel and his first wife, Alice, who died in 1998, together founded the Albert Schweitzer Institute at Chapman. He married his current wife, Kitty, in 1999. He retired from teaching in 1980 but continued to serve the university as a professor emeritus, adding to his work at the institute.

Bergel was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1911 and taught in high schools in Herrlingen and Dusseldorf. He and his wife were forced to flee Nazi Germany and emigrated to the United States in 1942, settling first in Deep Springs, Calif. Wile teaching at Deep Springs College, he obtained a doctorate in German literature at UC Berkeley.

He later taught briefly at UCLA. He moved to Chapman in 1949. During his first years there, he founded Chapman College Tours, which for 10 years offered students and others inexpensive, educational summer tours to Europe guided by the Bergels.

Bergel's books about Schweitzer include a reader in German, "Leben und Denken" ("Reading and Thinking"), English translations of Schweitzer's "Memoirs of Childhood and Youth," and "Albert Schweitzer and Alice Ehlers: A Friendship in Letters."

In addition to his widow, he is survived by a son, Peter, and a grandson Shanti.

A date for a memorial service has not been determined. Memorial gifts may be made to the Albert Schweitzer Institute.

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