• Dr. Paul Schons, St. Thomas Faculty Member for 45 Years, Dies

    Paul Schons
    Paul Schons in 2003. (Photo by Roger Rich)

    Dr. Paul Schons, a member of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and professor of German, died Sunday, Oct. 21, after being diagnosed with stage IV metastatic melanoma earlier this year. Schons was the most senior faculty member of the College of Arts and Sciences. He began teaching in 1967, five years after graduating from the College of St. Thomas.

    Paul Schons 1979

    Paul Schons teaches in 1979.

    Prior to returning to St. Thomas, he taught in high schools in Gaylord, Minn., and Colorado Springs, Colo. He earned his M.A. from the University of Colorado, and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He also studied at the University of Trier, Germany, the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and the Carl Duisburg Gesellschaft, Cologne, Germany.

    During his 45 years of service to the university, he founded the study abroad program, officially sending the first two students abroad to the University of Vienna in 1972. In addition, he taught St. Thomas’ first online undergraduate course and co-founded the master’s program in international business. His daughter, Dr. Suzanne Schons, is an adjunct faculty member in the Music Department.

    Schons was featured in a 2004 St. Thomas magazine article titled “They Came Back” about faculty members who came to the university as students and returned later to teach. In it, he is regarded as “one of the university’s most innovative teachers.” He also was featured in 2012′s “This Dorm’s Life” about the time he spent in Ireland Hall as a student. In it he recalled, “I came in thinking I wanted to major in music (he played the clarinet), but (professor) Frank Mayer informed me, ‘Young man, you have no talent.’ I was really enjoying German by then, so I chose that, and here I am today.”

    Paul Schons 1967

    Paul Schons new faculty portrait from 1967.

    According to Terence Langan, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, “I don’t think Paul was ever without a smile and a ‘Greetings!’ when we met outside the OEC elevator, nor did he ever fail to initiate an exchange of pleasantries as he rode to the third floor and I to the fourth. Thanks to Paul, I always had a smile on my face as I rode that last bit alone.”

    Mass of Christian Burial will be said at 10 a.m Monday, Oct. 29, at the Church of St. Mark, 2001 Dayton Ave., St. Paul. Visitation will be held from 4-8 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28, at O’Halloran and Murphy Snelling Avenue Chapel, 575 W. Snelling Ave. S., St. Paul, and at the church one-half hour prior to Mass.

    The Paul Schons Family Memorial Scholarship for German has been established in his memory. Contributions may be made out to University of St. Thomas (P. Schons in memo line), c/o Jennifer O’Brien, UST Mail DEV, 2115 Summit Ave., St. Paul, Minn. 55105.

    14 Comments

    • Austin Wentzel

      Danke fur alles Herr Schons! What a great professor and human being.

      22 Oct 2012 05:10 pm
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    • Annyetta Keefe

      Professor Schons was one of the best professors I had while attending UST. He will not be forgotten. The way he taught and connected with students is truly amazing. His passion for German and for teaching is something to be recognized.

      23 Oct 2012 07:10 am
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    • Germanic-American Institute

      Dr. Schons was a prince of a man. His passion for the German language and culture will be greatly missed in our community.

      23 Oct 2012 09:10 am
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    • C.J. Matson

      He was one of the best professors I ever had when I was in college. A fantastic sense of humor and unbelievable ability to connect with students. His passion for Germany and the German language was second to none. He was one of a kind and a true original. He’ll sorely be missed.

      23 Oct 2012 11:10 am
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    • Sister Mary Catherine Shambour, OSB

      What a great loss to St.Thomas of a great man, a professor, innovator, longtime Department Chair, friend and human being.
      He and his kindness and smile will be greatly missed and
      remembered. A privilege to have known him.

      23 Oct 2012 01:10 pm
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    • Kaschl Guenter, Trier, Germany

      I have lost a friend. Decades ago I had met Paul in Trier. According to his proposal and with his help I had the honor to hold the Endowed Chair for Natural Sciences at UST in 1985/86. The outcome of this was a vivid students and faculty exchange program between UST and the FH Trier, University of Applied Sciences. Thank you Paul.

      25 Oct 2012 09:10 am
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    • Alan Wahlert Ed.D.

      Herr Schons had a profound impact on me while I was at UST & encouraged me to study in Trier. His knowledge base & love of World Languages helped me in my own career as I am a high school Division Head of Social Science & World Languages. I owe him a great deal…what a wonderful & friendly man.

      25 Oct 2012 03:10 pm
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    • Jim Bloomfield

      Paul Schons was a great professor and a very supportive man. He taught me my first words of German in the autumn of 1977. I continued to learn the language by living abroad in Vienna, Austria and more recently in Frankfurt, Germany. He also encouraged me in Spanish language study. I will always appreciate that he went to bat for me in various situations over my years at St Thomas making my experience more fulfilling due to his ever-friendly presence and calm demeanor. He will be missed and remembered always.

      25 Oct 2012 04:10 pm
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    • Matt Slattery

      I was at a loss when I read this news today. Paul Schons was a huge inspiration for me as a young tommie and I greatly appreciated everyday I was able to spend in his classroom. His zeal for teaching and glowing personality was indicative of his wholeness of being–truly a great man.

      Möge er in des Vaters Haus ruhen

      25 Oct 2012 10:10 pm
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    • Mike Heitzman

      Dr Schons was an inspiring professor who really cared about the success of his students. I look back fondly on one class in particular, “The German Opera”, really! Dr. Schons also stood alongside me in a dispute over “translation” of my transcript from the University of Trier – arguing vehemently “this guy deserves and earned an A”. Thank you Dr. Schons.

      26 Oct 2012 09:10 am
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    • Marty Urick (UST German Major)

      Dr. Schons was an inspiring teacher, mentor, leader, ambassador and friend. He introduced me to German, taught some of my favorite classes, and led me on a trip abroad. Most importantly, as a freshman who had lost his father just prior to leaving for college, he had a tremendous influence on my college career and transition into the business world. His touched thousands of students in many different ways. He lived a wonderful life, and will live on not only through his beautiful family, but also through the lives that were made better by knowing him. God Bless Herr Schons.

      26 Oct 2012 08:10 pm
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    • Michael Sirek (CST ’85; Finance & German Double Major)

      So sad to hear of Dr. Schon’s passing. He was a great teacher and motivator to his students and cared for their general well-being. I was fortunate to benefit from his teaching and attend many of his classes to get my German major, and studied in Germany and Vienna as a part of his program. He also was kind enough to allow me to audit other German courses after I had earned my German major early. Just a wonderful person and man, and my honor to have benefitted from his teachings. May he rest in peace.

      28 Oct 2012 03:10 pm
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    • Melissa

      Still thinking about how great of a loss this is. Herr Schons was one of the greatest people I knew in my four years at St. Thomas. He inspired me to pursue German and my Literary Studies major. He was an integral part of my education but also just one of the best humans I think I’ll ever meet.

      06 Nov 2012 12:11 pm
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    • KATHRYN LEA SCHONS NORTH, RN

      PAUL WAS MY COUSIN. I WAS MUCH YOUNGER THAN HIM. WE WOULD GET A CHANCE EACH SUMMER TO SEE OUR COUSINS AT THE SCHONS FAMILY PICNIC AT THE PARK IN TRACY, MINN. THE LAST TIME I SAW PAUL WAS AT A 3 DAY FAMILY SCHONS CELEBRATION IN 2004. I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO BEABLE TO SIT AND VISIT WITH HIM AWHILE . MY DAD SURE ENJOYED HEARING ABOUT THE THINGS HE WAS ABLE TO DO THRU THE YEARS. WE WOULD WRITE EMAILS BACK AND FORTH THRU THE YEARS. HE WAS AN AMAZING PERSON AND I KNOW HE WILL BE MISSED BY SO MANY…

      08 Nov 2012 04:11 am
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