Dr. Howard George Baetzhold, 89, passed away in the comfort of his home on Saturday July 7, 2012. He was born January 1, 1923 in Buffalo, New York to Howard K. and Harriet H. Baetzhold.
After graduating from Brown University and serving in the U.S. Air Force in World War II, Howard returned to Brown where he met his wife, Nancy M. Cheesman, and soon after began their loving and supportive 60-year marriage. They moved to Madison Wisconsin, where Howard earned his PhD at the University of Wisconsin Madison.
Indianapolis became their home in 1953 when Howard accepted a position in the Butler University English Department and began his tenured academic career. From 1981 to 1985 Howard served as head of the English Department and was named the Rebecca Clifton Reade Professor of English Emeritus. He retired from Butler University in 1988.
Howard was a nationally recognized Mark Twain scholar, writing and editing publications for over 40 years. He authored Mark Twain and John Bull: The British Connection (Indiana, 1970) and co-authored The Bible According to Mark Twain: Writing of Heaven, Eden and the Flood (University of Georgia Press, 1995). He was a generous supporter and advisor to the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College. Howard shared his expertise with the University of California’s Mark Twain Papers and Project where he was one of the original editors of the Works of Mark Twain. He was one of the world’s true experts on the contents of the archive of Mark Twain’s papers at Berkeley. In 2001 at The Fourth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, Howard received the Henry Nash Smith Award recognizing his lasting contributions to Mark Twain Studies.
During his whole life, Howard fostered a love of water and was a competitive swimmer in high school and college. He was a member of the British Sub-Aqua Club of Indiana and for a time, taught scuba diving at the Jordan YMCA. Howard continued swimming through the U.S. Masters Swimming Program well into his 70’s.
Howard was a true gentleman with a wonderfully dry sense of humor. He was named a Sagamore of the Wabash by Indiana Governor Robert D. Orr. He supported the efforts and activities of his family and is lovingly remembered by his children Howard K. Baetzhold (Sandy) and Barbara M. Baetzhold (Brad Drake) and the thousands of students who were inspired by his knowledge and passion for American Literature.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 6:00 PM in The Johnson Room in Robertson Hall at Butler University. A reception will immediately follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Dr. Howard G. Baetzhold to Butler University, 4600 Sunset Lane, Indianapolis, 46208.