September 6, 2013

Carl William Ernst Engelhart


---- — PLATTSBURGH — Carl William Ernst Engelhart, 95, long-time resident of Plattsburgh and Professor Emeritus of English at Plattsburgh State, died on Sept. 4, 2013, in Plattsburgh.

Engelhart was born on Jan. 14, 1918, in Waterville, Ohio, the son of the Rev. Frank and Ida (Reischauer) Engelhart. He grew up in various communities in the Midwest, places where his father, a Lutheran minister, served many congregations. He graduated from the Robert E. Denfeld High School in Duluth, Minn. He received his A.B. degree in 1939 from the University of Chicago. His M.A. and Ph.D. degrees were awarded by the University of Minnesota, where Engelhart served as an instructor of English. During World War II he taught for several years at the Kemper Military Academy in Boonville, Mo.

It was at the University of Minnesota where Carl met Margaret (Stevens) Engelhart, a fellow instructor who had earned her degrees at the University of Michigan and Columbia University. In 1949, they were married in her home town of Flint, Mich. In 1951, they moved to Plattsburgh when Carl was appointed instructor of English at the university. He rose through the academic ranks, becoming a Professor of English in 1956.

During the first five years at Plattsburgh State, Engelhart, along with Dr. George Yokum staged five all-college musicals: Brigadoon, Finians Rainbow, Trial by Jury, Down in the Valley, Carousel, and Of Thee I Sing. Former students still speak fondly of their participation in these productions.

In 1958, Carl was the first member of the College faculty to be awarded a Senior Fulbright Lectureship, which led him to the Interpreters' Institute of the University of Mainz, in what was then West Germany. During the summer of 1962, he was awarded a travel grant permitting him to participate in a US State Department sponsored symposium on Indian culture, which took place in Osmania University in Hyderabad, India. In 1967 he was awarded another Senior Fulbright Lectureship at the University of Graz, Austria, which honored him with a medal for meritorious service. His wife Margaret and children accompanied him on the year-long trips to West Germany and Austria. During the 1975-76 academic year Engelhart acted as a Visiting Fellow at the Hull (England) College of Higher Education and again was joined by his wife and youngest daughter, Deborah.

Following the Engelharts' return from Austria in 1968, Carl served for seven years as the chairman of the English Department at Plattsburgh State and briefly as the acting dean of the Division of the Humanities. He retired in 1985 after thirty-three years of service. That year he and Margaret were invited to Nankai University in Tianjin, China, to serve as Foreign Guest Experts. They returned to the States by way of the Trans-Siberian Railway.

In addition to the Engelharts' numerous contributions to the university during their fifty years in Plattsburgh, they were very active in the local community. They were most proud that, in the mid-fifties, they were among the group of twelve founding members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Plattsburgh. Over the years they served as officers, board and committee members, as well as Sunday school teachers. Carl is also fondly remembered for his contributions to the Fellowship's Christmas Eve program. Some years ago the Engelharts were named by the St. Lawrence District of the UUA as "Unsung Heroes" of the denomination.

In the early sixties, the Engelharts were instrumental in the creation of the Council on the Arts of Clinton County, an organization that came into being in response to the creation of the New York State Council on the Arts. For the first seven years of the Council's existence, Engelhart served as its president during those halcyon years when local councils could afford to present (with state subsidies) programs such as the New York City Opera, the National Ballet of Washington, and many theatre dance and music programs designed for school children in the area. Carl and Margaret were once named by the local Office of the Aging as "Treasures of the North Country".

In 2001, Carl and Margaret moved to their home in Vinalhaven, Maine, where they continued their community involvement, and were especially active as part of the effort to renovate the town library. When Carl and Margaret returned to the North Country in 2010 they were welcomed back graciously and enthusiastically by their Plattsburgh friends.

Carl is survived by his wife Margaret of 64 years. He is also survived by his children, Anne Engelhart and her husband Douglas Durant of Lexington, Mass., and their children Nathaniel and Sophia Durant, Steven Engelhart of Wadhams, his children Samuel and Noah Engelhart, Scott Engelhart of Vacaville, Calif., his children Clara and Wade Engelhart; and Matthew Engelhart and his wife Terces of Vacaville, Calif., and Matthew's children Mollie and Ryland Engelhart.

Carl is also survived by the five Yokum children for whom he and Margaret became guardians after the death of their parents, George and Dorothy Yokum in 1963, Barbara Yokum Harris of Saranac and her children David Layman (wife Shantie and daughters Anjali and Aarya), Sarah Callan Beach (husband Randall), Joshua Stearn (daughter Olena), Elizabeth (Libby) Yokum and her husband Luis Sierra of Saranac, Geoffrey Yokum and his wife Kim O'Leary of Morrisonville, Daniel Yokum and his wife Virginia Marques of Ithaca and their children, Christopher (Lisa), Evan (Anastasia), and Annika Yokum and Deborah Yokum and her husband Hal Moore of Saranac and their children Nelson and Eli Moore. Carl is survived by one sister Dorothea Jenkins of Lincoln, Calif. His other siblings, Irene Van Horn, Robert Engelhart, Frank Engelhart, Ruth Kistemaker, and Elfriede and Alvira Engelhart, predeceased him.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12, in the Krinovitz Recital Hall in Hawkins Hall at Plattsburgh State. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Engelhart Prize for Arts and Letters c/o Plattsburgh College Foundation, 101 Broad Street, Plattsburgh, NY 12901; the Friends of the Vinalhaven Public Library Vinalhaven, Maine 04863; or the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4 Palmer Street, Plattsburgh, NY 12901. Arrangements have been entrusted to the R.W. Walker Funeral Home, 69 Court St., Plattsburgh. Online condolences may be made to the family by visiting