Reflections on the passing of Charles Glatfelter

Charles Glatfelter graduated from Gettysburg College in 1946, began teaching in the History Department while working on his PhD at Johns Hopkins, and continued until his retirement 40 years later in 1989. During that time, he taught and mentored countless students, served as department chair and dean of the faculty, served on and chaired countless committees, all the while researching and writing on the history of Pennsylvania, the local community, and the College. Charlie’s life was entwined with the life of Gettysburg College for decades.

On February 12 many of us in the College community and the Gettysburg area community gathered to mourn the loss of Charlie, to express condolences to his family, and to celebrate a life well lived. The service provided a fitting tribute to a well respected and greatly admired teacher and scholar, to a devoted community member, to a loving husband and father.

Charlie lived a life for which we aim to prepare our graduates—- a life characterized by continuous learning, lively intellectual curiosity, thoughtful reflection, high standards, commitment to one’s community, service to one’s neighbor, and a high level of integrity.

When I have a question about the history of Gettysburg College, I always turn first to Charlie’s 2-volume tome, A Salutary Influence. Although he modestly relegates a mention of himself to a footnote, there is no question that Charles Glatfelter was himself a salutary influence on Gettysburg College. The Gettysburg College community has lost a hero, but there is no question that his legacy lives on.

More information and other reflections are available on the College’s news@gettysburg section.

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