Teacher loved art, exploring science

Friday, October 17, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:20 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ray Jahn was a man of feeling.

“When he talked to someone, he talked right to you,” said longtime colleague and friend Jack LaZebnik. “He always listened to what everyone had to say, no matter who they were. He possessed a great deal of respect.”

Mr. Jahn died Friday, October 10, 2003, at his home of cancer. He was 79.

Mr. Jahn was an avid lover of art and woodcarving. In 2002 his wood sculpture won an award at the Boone County Art Festival.

Mr. Jahn expressed his love for art by teaching at Stephens College for 29 years.

He was born May 3, 1924, to August Jahn and Lulu Umbach. His first wife, Irma Reddick, was a musician. He married June Jahn, a classical ballet teacher, on Aug. 15, 1976.

Mr. Jahn earned a Master of Arts in English literature at the University of Bristol, England, and was a teacher and headmaster in several preparatory schools in New York.

Mr. Jahn’s fascination with science led him to become an avid student in the studies of the brain, the mind, astronomy, biology and the philosophy of science. He taught the principles and elements of music, art and literature, which are the unifying subjects of humanities at Stephens College. He retired from Stephens in 1985.

“Ray was an intellectual aristocrat,” said LaZebnik, who taught with Mr. Jahn at Stephens College. “He read all of the time, most of which was profound literature.”

Mr. Jahn also enjoyed writing and was the author of two scholarly books.

“I didn’t even know he’d had two books published,” LaZebnik said. “I read about them in the paper without him mentioning them to me. That’s the kind of man he was, very humble, and never once did I hear him brag.”

LaZebnik and Mr. Jahn were extremely close friends. “He was my mentor,” LaZebnik said. “He amazed me with all of the knowledge he contained.”

Mr. Jahn loved to travel. He and his wife, June, traveled to five continents and 75 countries throughout their marriage. “He really loved Italy,” LaZebnik said. “He loved the Italian language and the atmosphere that Italy provided.”

Mr. Jahn also wrote poetry.

“He was a very good poet,” LaZebnik said. “He never wanted to publish his poems though, as much as I urged him to. Many of them were quite funny. He always had a good sense of humor.”

Mr. Jahn is survived by his wife, June Jahn of Columbia; a sister, Helen Naumchik of Paradise, Calif.; and three stepchildren, Leta Harvey and Stephen Korcak of Columbia and Mimi Korcak of Chicago.

Friends and relatives will gather for a memorial to Mr. Jahn from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Classy’s, 1013 East Broadway.

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