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Joseph Charles Flay
(February 16, 1932 - June 27, 2014)

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Joseph Charles Flay

Joseph Charles Flay, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Penn State died June 27, 2014 at State College, Pennsylvania. He was born on February 16, 1932 in Reading, Pennsylvania, the first of six children of Joseph Michael and Martha Irene Flay (née Widmyer). He grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania and graduated from Reading Senior High School in 1949. During his youth and for several years after graduation he was a part of the musical scene in Reading as a violinist. In February 1952, he enlisted in the United States Air Force and served in the Communications Security Service. He was discharged in September 1956 with the rank of Staff Sergeant. His overseas time was spent in England from June 1953 through September 1956. He was preceded in death by his wife Bonnie Joanne Stout. He married Bonnie on October 30, 1954. Bonnie was also a resident of Reading, Pennsylvania and was a registered nurse. After his discharge, he pursued a B.A. in philosophy at Penn State under the GI Bill, entering in 1957 and graduating magna cum laude in 1960. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, and Pi Gamma Mu. He then pursued his Ph.D. in philosophy at University of Southern California. He received his degree in 1965, having been awarded an NDEA Fellowship and a Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship for his graduate studies. In September 1963, he took a position as Instructor of Philosophy at Penn State, where he remained until he retired in 1994 as a Full Professor. During his tenure at Penn State, he taught both undergraduate and graduate courses, served on college and university committees, and directed dissertations. He also served for many years as the Graduate Officer of the Department of Philosophy. His research and writing focused on the 19th century German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel, but he also published on Marx and Marxism, John Dewey, William James, the New Left movement of the 60s and 70s, French post-modernism, and the Greek poet Nikos Kazantzakis. In 1974, he was awarded the Class of 1933 Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Field of the Humanities, and in 1981 he was awarded the Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching. In 1995, after his retirement, he was awarded an Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award. He participated in many professional organizations and was a visiting lecturer at colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, and England. He was devoted to his wife and children. He and Bonnie had three children: Sarah, Christina, and Gregory. His favorite pastimes were travel with the family, collecting and drinking fine wines, and collecting French postage stamps. His best memories were of summers on Cape Cod and time spent in Paris. Joseph is survived by his daughter Sarah Derber of State College, his daughter Christina Sullivan and husband Arthur Sullivan both of Harrisburg Pennsylvania, and his son Gregory Flay and wife Jovita Flay both of Austin Texas. Joseph is also survived by six grandchildren, Rachel Wamp, Justin Derber, Patrick and Lauren Sullivan, and Janelle and Joseph Flay. He is also survived by one great-granddaughter, Charlotte Wamp. He was preceded in death by his siblings Robert Flay and Nancy Levan, and is survived by his siblings Martha Thomas, Anne Smith, and Timothy Flay. A visitation will be held from 10 until 11a.m., on Saturday, August 2, 2014, at Koch Funeral Home, 2401 S. Atherton St., State College. Memorial service will follow at the funeral home with Life-Cycle Celebrant, Jackie Hook, officiating. Interment will be private at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Pattee-Paterno Libraries, The Pennsylvania State University, 510 Paterno Library, University Park, PA 16802.

Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at www.kochfuneralhome.com.

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