UW News

October 14, 2010

The life of Otis Pease, longtime UW history professor, to be celebrated Oct. 24

A Celebration of Life for Otis Pease, a history professor at the UW for nearly 30 years, will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24, in 130 Kane. Pease died Sept. 6 at age 85.

Pease was born in Pittsfield, Mass., and earned both his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Yale University. His undergraduate work in American history and American studies was interrupted by service in World War II. After earning his doctorate in 1954, he taught for two years at the University of Texas and 10 years at Stanford University before joining the UW Department of History in 1966, He retired as professor emeritus in 1995.

Pease served as department chair from 1967 to 1972. He also served on the Stanford Board of Trustees for 16 years. He had wide-ranging research interests, covering — among other subjects — the Progressive Era, the history of American advertising, civil rights, urban politics and reform, Pacific Coast history, the American character, American music and art, and the experience of American soldiers in World War II.

He published many articles and several books, including Parkman’s History: The Historian as Literary Artist; The Responsibilities of American Advertising: Private Control and Public Influence, 1920-1940; The Progressive Years: The Spirit and Achievement of American Reform (as editor); and Blueberry Pie: The Meaning of WWII for the Americans Who Fought in It, in which he incorporated material from his own and others’ diaries along with historical analysis.

In addition to his academic pursuits, Pease found numerous ways to support causes close to his heart. In 1964, he worked as a volunteer and consultant for the Mississippi Summer Project through the Council of Federated Organizations, particularly the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, assisting with African American voter registration and related civil rights projects in Mississippi. Throughout his life he continued his support of various organizations committed to promoting justice, equality and environmental awareness.

Interwoven with all aspects of Pease’s life was his devotion to the arts. He frequently attended theater, opera, symphony, chamber ensemble and choral performances; he loved film and literature; and visited museums all over the world. He was an accomplished pianist and had a fine voice, which he used as a founding member of the Northwest Chamber Chorus.

Contributions in Pease’s memory may be made to the Otis Pease Fund for Student Support.