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.
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.”
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.