We are saddened by the loss of longtime Grinnell College faculty member Philip L. Kintner, who died Jan. 1, 2012.
Philip Kintner was born in Canton, Ohio on January 23, 1926. He entered U.S. Army service in August 1944 and served in the European theatre from January 1945 to August 1946. During his military career he was awarded the European Theatre of Operations (ETO) medal with 2 bronze stars.
He earned his B.A. at Wooster College in 1950 (honors in history) and his M.A. and Ph.D. at Yale University. In 1951 he married Anne Marie Genung. His area of expertise was in western European history. He taught at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and at Reed College in Portland, Ore., before joining the faculty of Grinnell College in 1964. He taught in the history department as associate Professor from 1964 to 1969 and as full professor from 1970 to 1996. He was Samuel R. and Marie-Louise Rosenthal Professor of Humanities from 1976 to 1996. He served as chair of the faculty in 1972. He taught in the Grinnell in Florence program 1989–90 and received numerous study and research grants to pursue research in the Stadtarchiv in Memmingen, Germany. He was instrumental in developing Chinese studies in history and culture at Grinnell, efforts that helped to pave the way for Grinnell’s long-standing and successful institutional exchange program with Nanjing University. Throughout his career, Kintner was a steady advocate and supporter of Burling Library and its programs. In March 1991, a special history symposium was held on Early Modern Europe, in honor of Kintner’s contribution to Grinnell College and the Department of History. He retired in 1992 after 28 years of a distinguished career. As professor emeritus, he remained active in writing, reviewing, and research.
At Grinnell, he taught Western European History, Medieval and Early Modern History, Medieval and Early Modern Humanities, and — a particular favorite of his — Historiography. His students remember him for his warmth, his gentle and engaging manner, his intellectual rigor, his tremendous knowledge of history and historiography, and — perhaps most of all — for his evident love for his students, for history, and for Grinnell.
In a reflection he wrote in 1996, Kintner said he became interested in history while in high school during the World War II, as “I would soon be in the Army and wanted to know what we were fighting for.” He was further influenced by “unforgettable” teachers. “From them I learned the invaluable lesson that nothing written has but one meaning, and that intelligent people can disagree heatedly on interpretations without anyone being right or wrong, and no one being hurt.” He passed this teaching on to generations of students in his own classes, which often featured lively discussions.
Of teaching, he wrote that the three most essential things were: “One, the amount of sheer effort — work — required to keep on top of one’s many subject areas [and] teach them meaningfully to students. … Two, that one never knows enough. … Three, that a certain amount of humility is essential. … A teacher should always allow students to think they can know as much or more as their instructor, IF they are willing to pursue the topic.”
He wrote that the best part of teaching “is without question the mind-hungry students who come to college wanting to learn. They are not always the brightest when they appear, but they are always the most rewarding and often go on to become some of the brightest. … Many of them keep in touch, and their accomplishments are like those of one’s own children.”
He was preceded in death by two brothers, Elvan and William Kintner; by his sister Betty Kintner; and in 2003 by his wife Anne Kintner, former Grinnell College archivist. He is survived by his three daughters, Karen Kintner Bucky ’82 of Williamstown, Mass., Judith Kintner ‘85 of Yellow Springs, Ohio, and Jennifer Kintner ’86 of Jonesborough, Tenn.; and by five grandchildren: Jacob Leo Kintner ’14, Shawn Felix Kintner, Jonah Philip Kintner, Miranda Kintner Bucky, and Susannah Louisa Bucky.
If you’d like to share a remembrance of Professor Kintner with his family and the Grinnell community, feel free to submit one by using the comment form below.