Obituary: Eva Schiffer, professor emerita of German

Eva Schiffer, 85, of Amherst, professor emerita of Germanic Languages and Literatures, died Nov. 10 at home of lung cancer.

Born in Vienna, Austria, her childhood was interrupted by the takeover of the Nazis in March 1938. She and her younger brother found a home with friends of her parents in Groningen, Holland. Soon thereafter, her father was incarcerated in the concentration camps of Dachau and Buchenwald, but, he survived and was released. The reunited family settled in Cambridge, where her father, determined to resume his legal career, attended Harvard Law School. Her mother, as co-founder of the Window Shop restaurant, helped supply daily needs.

From childhood, she dreamt of pursuing a career involving animals and subsequently earned a B.S. in Animal Husbandry from Massachusetts State College in 1946, the year before it became the University of Massachusetts. Instead of farming, however, she went on to an academic career, earning an M.A. in comparative literature 1947 at Harvard-Radcliffe.

She taught at Ohio State University from 1947-50 before returning to Harvard as a teaching fellow in German. In 1955, she came to Amherst as an instructor in German. After completing her Ph.D. in comparative literature at Harvard-Radcliffe in 1962, she was promoted to assistant professor. In 1968, she was appointed associate professor and then promoted to professor in 1978.

From 1967-68, she taught at the University of Colorado in Boulder and in 1972-73, she was resident director of the UMass-Freiburg/Baden-W?rttemberg exchange program in Freiburg, Germany.

She was the recipient of two fellowships of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

In addition to various articles on 20th-century German literature and numerous book reviews, she is the author of "Zwischen den Zeilen. Manuskriptänderungen bei Thomas Mann. Transkriptionen und Deutungsversuche," published in 1982. She edited the correspondence between the eminent former Amherst College political scientist Karl Loewenstein and Thomas Mann ("Blätter der Thomas-Mann Gesellschaft Zürich," published in 1981 and 1982) and produced a textbook edition of Konrad Lorenz''s "Er redete mit dem Vieh, den Vögeln und den Fischen" in 1971. An abbreviated version of her privately published autobiographical "Sketches" was included in "Exile and Displacement: Survivors of the Nazi Persecution Remember the Emigration Experience."

She was also a member of the Faculty Senate and served on a number of departmental committees.

She retired from the faculty in 1988.

Following her retirement, she became actively involved in Amherst''s municipal government, where she served on the Finance Committee (1990-96) and on the Select Board (1996 to 2005). She deeded her home to the Amherst Housing Authority, together with an agreement that ensures its sale in perpetuity to a qualifying municipal employee, at an affordable price.

She loved classical music and enjoyed hiking and mountain climbing, downhill and - later - cross-country skiing. Open-space and wildlife habitat protection, environmental and animal-welfare issues were among her constant concerns.

She leaves many friends, including Horst and Evelyn Wittmann of Baltimore, Ontario; her friend of more than 60 years, Frances Colby Allee, of Albany, N.Y.; Linda Kohler of Amherst; and Ruth Crabtree of Amherst.

Donations in her memory may be made to the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society, Leverett 01054; the Kestrel Trust, P.O. Box 1016, Amherst 01002; the Northern Alaska Environmental Center, 830 College Rd., Fairbanks, AK 99701-1535; WFCR, 131 County Circle, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 01003-9257; or Cooley Dickinson Hospital, P.O. Box 329, Northampton 01060.

A memorial service may be scheduled at a later time.