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Noted historian John Munroe dies

John A. Munroe

9:39 a.m., Sept. 7, 2006--John Munroe, one of Delaware's best-known historians and a member of the UD faculty for more than 60 years, died Sept. 6. He was 92.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Newark Methodist Church on Main Street. A memorial service will be held on the UD campus later this fall.

"John A. Munroe was the perfect embodiment of the gentleman scholar," UD President David P. Roselle said. "He was a native of Delaware and alumnus of the University of Delaware who was revered as an accomplished historian, a learned professor, a caring mentor and a delightful friend. He helped shape the Department of History here at UD-a department that now resides in a building that appropriately bears his name-and served as a fount of knowledge about the history of both his beloved home state and this University. Just as Delaware is the Diamond State, John Munroe was a jewel of a gentleman, and he will be sorely missed by his many colleagues and friends."

A native of Wilmington, Dr. Munroe earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from UD in 1936 and 1941, respectively, and he received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1947.

After teaching at Newark High School, he joined the UD faculty in 1942 as an instructor in history. He was named an assistant professor in 1947, an associate professor in 1949 and professor in 1952. In 1962, he was named H. Rodney Sharp Professor of History. As the primary instructor for the formerly required Delaware history course, Dr. Munroe taught a majority of the University's students for many years. He also served as assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1949-51 and as chairperson of the Department of History from 1952-69. He retired in 1982 and was named H. Rodney Sharp Professor Emeritus of History.

He was the author of more than 70 articles and several books, including Delaware Becomes a State (1953), Federalist Delaware (1954), Delaware: A Students' Guide to Localized History (1965), Louis McLane: Federalist and Jacksonian (1974), Colonial Delaware: A History (1978), History of Delaware (1979) and The University of Delaware: A History (1986). He was the coauthor, with Carol E. Hoffecker, of Books, Bricks and Bibliophiles: The University of Delaware Library (1984). He also edited Timoleon's Biographical History of Dionysius, Tyrant of Delaware (1958). Dr. Munroe was a regular contributor of articles about Delaware's history and government to encyclopedias and annuals, and from 1959-65, he had a regular column in the Wilmington, Del., Morning News.

Special honors from the University included the Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1963, the Medal of Distinction in 1980 and the Francis Alison Award, the University's top honor to its faculty, in 1981. The citation for the Alison Award saluted Dr. Munroe's scholarship and service and noted, "The number of distinguished professionals that are among your former undergraduate and graduate students is the highest tribute to your role as an educator."

In 1997, the University named Munroe Hall in his honor. Munroe Hall is the home of the Departments of Anthropology and History. At the dedication ceremony, Dr. Munroe said, "The 65 years since I entered Delaware College have slipped by easily and quickly. I came from a happy home where my parents supported my desire to become a scholar and a teacher. In Newark, students and colleagues helped me lead the sort of life I hoped for. And here, too, I met my wife, who made possible the satisfaction I found in my career and, bolstered by the support and understanding of our children, the very happy memories I enjoy."

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and children, Stephen, Carol and J. Michael.

Dr. Munroe donated his papers to the University of Delaware Library.

For a listing of Dr. Munroe's works and a photographic history, click here.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the UD Department of History, 236 John Munroe Hall, 46 West Delaware Ave., Newark, DE 19716-2547, or to the Historical Society of Delaware, 505 Market St., Wilmington, DE 19801.

To sign a guest register, visit [spicer-mullikinfuneralhomes.com].

Photo courtesy of the University of Delaware Archives

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