Eve Bock: 1922-2013

Professor taught German at Heidelberg


TIFFIN — Eve Bock, a professor of German who taught at Heidelberg University in Tiffin for much of her academic career, died Wednesday in Wilber Care Center, Wilber, Neb. She was 91.

She lived in the care center after a stroke in 2008, her daughter, Jane, said. She was in ill health since May.

Mrs. Bock and her late husband, Paul, a onetime Heidelberg religion department chairman, moved to Nebraska in the early 1980s so that he could take a position at Doane College. She became an adjunct faculty member in German at Doane and at Nebraska Wesleyan University, retiring in the mid-1980s. The couple had been in northwest Ohio since the early 1950s, when her husband became director of the United Christian Fellowship at Bowling Green State University.

At Heidelberg, Mrs. Bock was an associate professor. She had high standards and graded according to performance, to the chagrin of some students.

“She was beloved by the serious students and made lifetime relationships with several of her students,” her daughter said.

Mrs. Bock, who had a master’s degree from Yale University, studied and wrote articles about the works of John Huss, the Czech priest and philosopher, and John Amos Comenius, the Moravian teacher and writer. She also had a scholarly interest in German plays and playwrights, Bertolt Brecht among them. For two years, starting in 1980, she and her husband were co-directors of Heidelberg’s overseas study program at Heidelberg University in Germany.

Concerned with pay inequity between men and women faculty at Heidelberg in Tiffin, she and several female colleagues approached the administration and won pay raises.

“She could take on the best of them,” her daughter said. “She was very social and outgoing. She was brilliant, and you knew the brilliance the moment her mouth opened. She had a strong interest in social justice.”

The couple lived in Ghana in 1976 and 1977, as part of a mission trip.

Mrs. Bock gave frequent talks about life in eastern Europe. She was born April 28, 1922, in Sevlus, Ruthenia, which was part of Czechoslovakia for a time before it was taken in 1938 by Hungary. Her family settled in Prague, and she became an English and German major at Charles University. Teaching German allowed her to avoid Nazi-run work camps, her daughter said. Despite the hardships of war, the world she knew had women in most professions.

“She grew up with women as dentists and pediatricians,” her daughter said. “She didn’t even know that men did those things until she came to the United States and found out that women were discouraged from those things.”

She met her Ohio-raised husband while he, a ministerial student, was acting as preacher at a Prague church with English-language services. The church organist — her brother — didn’t speak English, so he brought in his sister to communicate with the American preacher. And so began the whirlwind romance.

“They had to make a decision, because my father was only there for a semester,” their daughter said. He proposed on Dec. 31, 1948. Using cigarettes, he bribed bureaucrats to speed the necessary paperwork, and the pair married Jan. 29, 1949.

“They had to go. Dad’s visa was expiring [and] the communists were sealing off the country,” their daughter said. “It was a scary and very brave thing for her to do, but her parents were supportive.”

She was able to return for visits, which became regular after the end of communist control.

Her husband died April 4, 1993.

Surviving are her daughter, Jane Bock; son, Ben Bock; brother, Lubomir Chyba, and three granddaughters.

Memorial services will be at 2 p.m. today in Congregational United Church of Christ, Crete, Neb.

The family suggests tributes to the church in Crete; Wilber Care Center, Wilber, Neb.; UNICEF; the Carter Center; Interfaith Alliance; Doctors Without Borders, or Amnesty International.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.