advertisement

Former MU professor viewed life 'through the lens of history'

Thursday, October 3, 2013 | 12:44 p.m. CDT; updated 3:36 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 25, 2014

COLUMBIA — Charles Nauert carried a pen in his shirt pocket at all times. In fact, he disliked shirts without pockets.

Mr. Nauert was constantly taking notes on historical books. The walls of his MU office were lined with books, as was his study at home.

"The historian in him never switched off. This is probably what made him such a good professor — his obvious passion for the subject," said Mr. Nauerts' son Jon Nauert.

Charles Nauert died Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013. He was 85.

Mr. Nauert was born July 26, 1928 in Quincy, Ill., to Helen C. Nauert and Charles G. Nauert Sr.

Mr. Nauert and his wife were married on June 21, 1964.

While getting his bachelor's degree at Quincy College, Mr. Nauert worked for the Quincy Herald-Whig as a reporter and copy-reading assistant. 

"He always felt his newspaper experience sharpened the research and writing skills he used throughout his academic career," said Paul Nauert, his other son.

Mr. Nauert went on to receive his master's degree from the University of Illinois in 1951 and his doctorate from the the same university in 1955. He specialized in the cultural and intellectual history of Renaissance-Reformation Europe. He was a professor of history at MU from 1961 to 1999.

"He did not retire until he was in his 70s, and even then he continued to teach and advise graduate students until he moved to Kansas City. Even after that, he wrote scholarly works," Jon said. "The historian in him was still going even after he retired."

Jon recalls a conversation between all of Mr. Nauert's relatives on Thanksgiving many years ago.

"One of my cousins was trying to remember another cousin's middle name. My father happened to overhear this discussion about middle names, which then began a 20-minute lesson on how the use of middle names began in the 16th century," Jon said. "No matter what the topic of conversation was, if Dad was around, it turned into a discussion from the 16th century because that was where his mind was."

"He was not only knowledgeable but passionate about his subject, which tended to weave its way into his everyday conversations," Paul said. "He looked at life through the lens of history."

The period of history that Mr. Nauert studied included the reformation of the Protestant church, and in his personal life, he was a very religious man. He was an active member of the church vestry in the 1980s, and the Calvary Episcopal Church when he moved to Columbia, where he attended until his move to Kansas City.

Although Mr. Nauert had little free time during his career, he began officiating games for the Columbia Soccer Club when both of his sons joined. Despite his lack of interest in sports, Jon said this was his father's way of "supporting our interests and participating," because he recognized it was important to his sons. 

"He bought a referee's uniform, studied the rules of the game, and for several years spent his weekend mornings officiating games for the Club," Paul said.

Mr. Nauert is survived by his two sons: Paul Nauert and his partner Robert Covington, of Santa Cruz, Calif., and Jon Nauert and his wife Jessamyn Tuttle, of Mount Vernon, Wash. His wife, Jean, died earlier on May 6, 2013.

A memorial service is being held at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 29, at Calvary Episcopal Church, 123 S. Ninth St.

Donations can be made to MU's College of Arts and Sciences or the Graduate School in Mr. Nauert's memory.


Like what you see here? Become a member.


Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.

advertisements