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George Blum

A memorial service for emeritus history professor George Blum, who taught at Pacific for 37 years, is scheduled for 2 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 27, at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, 2737 Pacific Ave. in Stockton.

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Pacific News

Former history chair George Blum remembered

Jul 21, 2017

George P. Blum, professor emeritus of history and long-time chair of the history department at University of the Pacific, died peacefully at home July 7.

"This is a sad loss for the University community," said College of the Pacific Dean Rena Fraden. "For four decades, George was an active scholar and respected mentor in the University's history department."

Blum arrived at Pacific in 1962 as an assistant professor at Raymond College, the university's liberal arts cluster college. He helped develop courses during the 1960s and '70s.  

"Faculty modified some of their core courses or even abandoned them and were encouraged to develop new courses to enrich the program offerings," Blum said in an oral history recorded for the University in 2010. He took advantage of the academic leave program to pursue new directions in teaching. "For me, this was one of the most creative periods in my teaching career."

Raymond College faculty were encouraged to live in the residence halls with the students. So, for the first two years, Blum and his wife, Beverly, lived in a small apartment in what is now Ritter House. In 1980, the university's experiment with the cluster colleges ended, and Blum became a professor in the College of the Pacific's history department.

"I was one among the faculty members who helped open Raymond College, and I was among the last ones who closed Raymond College," Blum remembered in his 2010 interview.  

Blum specialized in courses on 20th century Europe, modern Germany, European intellectual history, the history of socialism, in addition to the standard sequence of western civilization.  

"The most notable course that I developed in the department program was History of the Holocaust," he said.  

Blum grew up in Lithuania and Germany during World War II and recounted his experiences in his book "Coming of Age in War-Torn Lithuania and Germany."  

He became temporary chair of the history department in 1989, elected chair in 1991 and continued in that position until he retired in 1999. During his time at Pacific, Blum was an outspoken critic of the University's football program, believing it was financially and academically costly. In the early 1970s, he served on a task force that studied whether to continue the program. Ultimately, the task force decided to let the program go on, but Blum and several other faculty members wrote a minority opinion in which they argued that the number of athletic scholarships needed to be reduced and academic scholarships increased. Eventually the program was discontinued after the 1995 season.  

At his retirement in 1999, Blum was awarded the Order of Pacific, the highest honor the University gives recognizing members of the University regents, faculty, administration and staff who have given distinguished service and made outstanding contributions to the University over a significant number of years.  

Fellow faculty members remember Blum as a mentor and a friend.  

"George hired me, and I very much stayed in contact with him," said College of the Pacific Associate Dean Gesine Gerhardt. "He kept up to date on modern German politics until the very end. Every time I saw him he had the latest copy of 'Der Spiegel,' the major German news magazine, with him."  

"He was just about the kindest person I have ever met, soft-spoken but assertive and steadfast in his convictions," said history professor Ken Albala. "He was a great mentor to me from the day I was hired."  

Blum is survived by his wife, Beverly, and children, Barbara and Alfred. A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 27 at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, 2737 Pacific Ave. in Stockton.