Sunday, July 8, 2018

Philippine Literature: Dr. Leonard Casper Passes Away

From the author Linda Ty-Casper: 

"Len passed away in his sleep, on his 95th birthday yesterday.  He wanted to be cremated and didn't want an obituary but I wrote down something to remember him by. We'll have a private service for him. Please keep him in your prayers. Love, Linda
Leonard Ralph Casper passed away in his sleep on his 95th birthday, July 6. He was born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin to Louis Casper and Caroline Eder. He had three brothers and four sisters. Louis; Rose; Ruth; Leo; Larry; Rita; and Roma.

He married Linda Ty-Casper at San Juan Rizal, Philippines on July 14, 1956. They have two daughters, Gretchen G. Casper, professor of Political Science at Pennsylvania State University; and Kristina Elise Casper-Denman,  professor of Anthropology at American River College, Sacramento. 

Len was inducted into the US Military during World War II; and saw active service starting May 26, 1943; serving in foreign service 4 months, 6 days; in Continental Service, 2 years, 4 months, 11 days. His specialty was Cannoneer, # 864. He was qualified as a Marksman Carbine June 13, 1944; was Grade Pfc. Army serial # 36 821 365.Organization: Battery A 389 the FA Battalion; 99th Infantry Division, 38th Field Artillery Regiment as Marksman, Cannoneer 864.

His battle campaigns included the Rhineland, Central Europe; Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Ruhr Valley. His decorations and citations were the World War II Victory Ribbon, American Theater Ribbon, EAME Theater Ribbon, Good Conduct Ribbon, 2 Bronze Stars. He was received his Honorable Discharge, 2/12/46 at Camp Chafee, Arkansas. 

Leonard with three brothers—Louis, Leo and Larry—and a sister, Rita, served in the US Army during World War II. Larry received the Purple Heart.

Len attended grade school at the St, Joseph Church, Fond du Lac High School; and received his BA, MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin where he was a graduate assistant.

He taught at Cornell University, University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippine Normal College, was lecturer at several colleges in the Philippines, in Taiwan and in Thailand on grants from the American Philosophical Society, the Ford Foundation, ACLS-SSRC, Asia Society. 

He was a Creative writing Fellow at Stanford, 1951; directed the Creative Writing Program at the University of Rhode Island, summer of 1958; Writing Fellow at Bread Loaf, 1961; a Fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation at Bellagio, 1994. He served on the editorial board of several literary magazines such as Literature East and West.

In 1956 he began teaching Contemporary American Literature and Creative Writing at Boston College; and in 1962 received the “Heights” Man of the Year Award in “recognition of his loyalty and service to the University and to its Young men.” After retirement in 1999, Len continued teaching at Boston College as Emeritus Professor; later teaching at the SOAR Federal Program—Seniors teaching Seniors—in Wellesley, MA.

Several of Lens creative writing students became published writers, poets, and editors, including George Higgins, whose first novel was The Friends of Eddie Coyle; Gemino Abad who dedicated his latest anthology, Philippine short Fiction in English from 1990-2008, to Leonard and three other of his professors; Michael J. Brien, editor, Amoskeag.

He wrote critical essays in his field which included American and Philippine literature. In 1966, his book on Robert Penn Warren, The Dark and Bloody Ground, the first on the author, was published by the University of Washington Press; his last book on Robert Penn Warren, The Blood Marriage of Earth and Sky, was published in 1997 by Louisiana State University Press.

Among his books are: Six Filipino Poets (1955), Wayward Horizon (1961) The Wounded Diamond (1964), New Writing from the Philippines (1966) Firewalker (1987), In Burning Bush (1991), The Opposing Thumb (1995) Sunsurfers Seen from Afar (1996) The Circular Firing Squad (1999) Green Circuits of the Sun (2002). With Thomas A. Gullason, he co-authored a textbook The World of Short Fiction: International Collection, Harper and Row, (1952).

While training for service and during active service in the US Army, his short stories were published in SouthWest Review of the Southern Methodist University, Texas; whose editors encouraged him to continue submitting his stories. In 1971 the Southern Methodist University Press published these short stories in a book, A Lion Unannounced, a National Council of the Arts Selection.

Len was a daily communicant at St. Jeremiah, Framingham until the church closed after 48 years. He was a communicant at St. George in Saxonville; and at the Sons of Mary Health of the Sick Missionaries, Framingham.

Tags: #Philippines #Filipino #literature #education 

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