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W. Patrick Strauss

Professor Emeritus

The department mourns the loss of Professor Emeritus W. Patrick Strauss, who died on June 8, 2010, in Belfast, Maine. The following is an excerpt from his obituary:

W. Patrick Strauss

Dr. Wallace Patrick Strauss (Pat), 87, died June 8, 2010, at Penobscot Shores in Belfast. He was born March 17, 1923, in St. Louis, Mo., the only son of Alvin W. and Helen Decker Strauss. The family moved to southern California in the 1930s, and all except Pat have been lifelong residents of the state.

Strauss was by choice and experience a historian. He began his college education at the University of California at Berkeley, where he actually began as an engineering major. He left to enter the Army in 1942 and served as an officer in various positions in Honolulu. After the war, he returned to complete his bachelor’s degree in history at Occidental College in Los Angeles in 1948. A year later, he received his master’s degree from Stanford University. After a year’s study in Paris, he went to Columbia University and met his wife Laura while traveling by freighter from Honolulu to Sydney, Australia, to do research for his doctorate. He received his Ph.D. in 1958 and began his long and successful teaching career, where his specialty was U.S. diplomatic history from Jefferson to Jackson.

He was awarded a Fulbright teaching fellowship three different times and taught at the University of Hong Kong and the Foreign Studies Institute in Shanghai, China, in addition to posts across the United States and Canada and lectures throughout the world. He was honored with many awards for his contributions and was recognized nationally for his efforts to make the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) the successful bargaining unit it is today. He was much beloved by his students around the world and published widely in his field. Although offered a fourth Fulbright lectureship in Beijing in 1991, health concerns prevented him from accepting, and he and Laura retired to Belfast.

Once in Belfast, he devoted his time to developing opportunities for the local community. He helped found two local educational programs, the Belfast Institute of Lifelong Learning, which brought the Elderhostel program to Belfast, and Belfast Senior College, a cornerstone of the University of Maine Hutchinson Center. He was one of the founders and first chairman of the Board of Directors of the Waldo Community Development Federal Credit Union, later purchased by St. Croix FCU, and helped develop the first New Year’s by the Bay. He was an active member and officer of the Belfast Rotary Club and was honored with the Outstanding Citizen Award from the Modern Woodmen in 1998. He was a lifelong stamp collector and local restaurant booster.

Strauss was predeceased by his wife Laura of 58 years and is survived by a daughter, Jane, of Northport, Mich., a sister, Betty Tolzien of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., as well as nieces, nephews and their families in California.

Ph.D., Columbia University

Selected Publications:


Perspectives in American Studies: A Reader By American Scholars in China, co-edited with Kenneth Starck and David Yaukey (Shanghai: Foreign Language Education Press, 1988).

Isolation and Involvement: An Interpretive History of American Diplomacy (Waltham, Mass.: Blaisdell, 1972).

Stars and Spars: The American Navy in the Age of Sail (Waltham, Mass.: Blaisdell, 1969).

Americans in Polynesia, 1783-1842 (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1964).

Articles and Chapters

"Biography in the Heroic Mode: A Life of James Cook,"  Reviews in European History: A Journal of Criticism from the Renaissance to the Present 1:4 (1975): 499-506.

"Lands Below the Horn" in Clayton R. Barrow, ed.,  America Spreads Her Sails: U.S. Seapower in the Nineteenth Century (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1973).

"Captain David Porter: Pioneer Pacific Strategist,"  United States Naval Institute Proceedings 93 (1967): 148-162.

"Paradoxidal Cooperation: Sir Joseph Banks and the London Missionary Society,"  Australian Historical Review 11 (1964): 246-252.

"Pioneer American Diplomats in Polynesia, 1820-1840,"  Pacific Historical Review 31 (1962): 21-31.

"The Mitchell Library of Sydney, Australia,"  The Library Quarterly 30 (1960): 124-129.

"Preparing the Wilkes Expedition: A Study in Disorganization,"  Pacific Historical Review 28 (1959): 221-232.

Department of History

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Rochester, MI 48309-4482
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