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Published: Monday, 1/31/2011

Richard M. Krill, 1938-2011: Ex-UT professor lauded for work in languages

Richard M. Krill, 72, a longtime professor of the classics and a chairman of the department of foreign languages at the University of Toledo who taught Latin to high school students after his retirement, died Jan. 15.

Mr. Krill of Toledo died at Sunset House of corticobasal degeneration, a progressive neurological disorder, said Mary Louise Krill, his wife of 47 years.

Mr. Krill's university classes in the classics and humanities were extremely popular among students, said Karen Havens, a former student of Mr. Krill who herself taught the overflow classes of UT students who were shut out of his lectures.

"His standards were high," said Ms. Havens, who went on to teach Latin and other courses at Start High School and St. Ursula Academy. "He was a fine teacher. He was very knowledgeable and tireless."

Mr. Krill was born March 29, 1938, in Akron to Carl and Helen Krill. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from John Carroll University in Cleveland and his doctorate from St. Louis University in St. Louis, where he met his future wife.

He taught at universities in Syracuse, N.Y., and Columbia, Mo., before joining the University of Toledo in 1968 as a professor of classics and humanities. He retired from UT in 1999 after more than 30 years.

During his tenure at UT, he served as chairman of the department of foreign languages.

"He taught a couple of very popular courses in mythology and classic humanities," Ms. Havens said.

Among his accomplishments at UT was founding Foreign Language Day that brought high school students to campus for competitions, said his wife, Mary Louise.

While encouraging high school students to study other languages, he also worked on the university level to broaden language skills of students.

"The critical thing he was able to do was to make foreign languages mandatory for graduation" at the University of Toledo, Mrs. Krill said.

Charles Terbille, a teaching associate who also worked in the research library, said Mr. Krill was well-known for his parties that drew on a wide spectrum of people, from the university and outside.

"Part of the art of hosting a party was inviting all of these interesting people," Mr. Terbille said. "You can image the conversations that were going on."

Mr. Krill, who sang in the choir at Gesu Catholic Church, arranged to have the choir sing Christmas carols at one of his gatherings, Mr. Terbille said.

Mr. Krill wrote about the Latin and Greek origins of English words. His book Greek and Latin in English Today was published in 1990 and is still available. His Forty Fabulous Fables of Aesop was published in 1982.

He served offices with the Archaeological Institute of America and other professional organizations involved in the study of classical Roman and Greek culture. He was active in the Ohio Classical Conference, an association of university and high school teachers of Latin.

He was recipient of numerous grants to assist in his research and studies, his wife said, but he never participated in an archaeological dig.

Along with his professional interests, he was deeply involved in his family life, said his daughter, Mimi Nichols.

"He always brought a lot of fun into our lives," Ms. Nichols said. "

He took his family on overseas trips and his knowledge of Greece and Italy came in handy, Ms. Nichols said.

"I didn't have to do too much research because we had our own tour guide," she said.

As chairman of the foreign language department, he was involved in UT's long-running German exchange between the University of Toledo and Georg Buchner Gymnasium in Darmstadt, Germany.

"We had at least three exchange students ourselves and we were able to go over to Darmstadt and visit with our former students," Ms. Nichols said.

Even as chairman of the foreign languages department, he continued teaching at least one class a semester, said his wife.

After he retired, St. Ursula asked him to help teach Latin when the school was unable to find a teacher, Mrs. Krill said. At St. John's Jesuit he taught honors students and helped them obtain scholarships to pursue studies in the classics and humanities.

After retirement, he also helped revive UT's Foreign Language Day, which had lapsed after he left, Ms. Havens said.

"He was a very gentle man. He was never cross or impatient," Ms. Havens said. "He exemplifies the Latin word humanitas, which means the best qualities of a human being."

Mr. Krill is survived by his wife, Mary Louise Krill, daughters Gina Carter, Michelle Morris, and Mimi Nichols, brothers Carl Krill, Joseph Krill, and Kevin Krill, and sisters Mary Sawan and Roberta Hawkins, and 12 grandchildren.

Walker Funeral Home handled the arrangements. Tributes are suggested to Hospice of Northwest Ohio, St. John's Jesuit High School, St. Ursula Academy, Notre Dame Academy, or St. Francis de Sales High School.

Contact Jim Sielicki at: jsielicki@theblade.com, or 419-724-6050

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