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Associate Professor of German & Russian Languages and Literatures John Thomas Bartle, a member of the faculty since 1989, died suddenly at his home on June 10, 2022.

Born in St. Paul, Neb., on Oct. 25, 1961, he was raised and educated in St. Paul-area schools and was fortunate to study in Denmark during his junior year of high school. He received his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and his master’s degree and doctorate in Slavic languages and literatures from Indiana University.

Almost instantly after arriving at Hamilton, John began earning a reputation as a dedicated and inspiring teacher. He devoted an extraordinary amount of time to establishing relationships with students that often resulted in lifelong friendships. Said a former department chair, “John is the ideal Hamilton College instructor: competent in different academic areas, diverse in his academic interests, and eager to expand his intellectual horizon.”

His courses were popular, especially Madness, Murder and Mayhem: Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature, and his meticulous attention to students’ writing was evident in the progress they made developing and expressing their ideas, noted a colleague and friend. “He brings an energy to this course that is truly amazing,” said one student in an evaluation. “Every day was filled with as many laughs as deep intellectual stimulation …. [H]e was filled with a passion you just can’t fake.”

John also served his profession as a scholar and, for 18 years, as associate editor for book reviews for the Slavic and East European Journal, during which time he solicited, edited, and published more than 2,000 book reviews. He had also written extensively on F.M. Dostoevsky, including articles in Russian Language Journal, Canadian Slavic Studies, and Romantic Russia, and published translations of Dostoevsky’s journalistic works.

In addition to serving many years as chair of the German & Russian Languages and Literatures Department and the English for Speakers of Other Languages program, he was a member of the American Council for Teachers of Russian, the American Association for Teachers of Slavic and Eastern European Languages, and the American Council for Teachers of Foreign Languages.

More recently, John pursued an interest in telling the stories of the area’s refugees, because they were his neighbors in Utica and he wanted to show how they contributed to a city with a shrinking population. He served as co-director of The Refugee Project, a collaborative effort of Hamilton faculty members and students to document the lives of refugee communities in Central New York. His work included two short films, Genesee Lights and The Newcomers, and the beginnings of an interactive archive containing information about each refugee’s arrival to Utica since 1979, which was to be part of a book-length project he was working on at the time of his death.

John was proud to be an active member of the Utica community and enjoyed sharing its treasures, especially his favorite restaurants, with Hamilton students. He took time to volunteer with Olmstead City of Greater Utica and served on the boards of the Midtown Utica Community Center, the Utica Public Library, and Dollars for Scholars.

“To know John was to love him,” his family noted in a published obituary. “His energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity for the things and people who interested him were palpable and memorable. His good humor and giving nature were legend.”

John T. Bartle is survived by his wife, Alison Doughtie; a son and a daughter, Emma Bartle ’21; and many extended family members.

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