SELINSGROVE — Wilhelm Reuning, 88, of Selinsgrove, professor emeritus of history and former Dean of Faculty at Susquehanna University, passed away in the early morning hours of March 3, 2013, at the Sunbury Community Hospital.
As Dean of Faculty and later Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Reuning administered the academic programs at Susquehanna from 1959 to 1978, making him the longest-serving academic leader in the university’s history.
He was born Aug. 26, 1924, in Mainz, Germany. His mother died soon after his birth, and he was raised by his maternal grandmother until he entered Offenbach Gymnasium. In 1937, he and his father, a Lutheran pastor and teacher, fled Nazi Germany and came to the United States.
They settled in Swarthmore, Pa., where he graduated second in his class from Swarthmore High School in 1942. He enrolled in the education–social studies program at the University of Pennsylvania that fall, but the following year, his education was interrupted after being drafted into the U.S. Army. The World War II veteran performed combat intelligence for the U.S. Fifth Army in Italy until December 1945.
After his discharge, he returned to his studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned bachelor of science and master of science degrees in 1948. That same year, he married Ruth Shetlock of Philadelphia, with whom he had three children—Winifred, Frederick and Katherine. He went on to earn a doctorate degree from University of Pennsylvania in 1956. He served as head of the history and political science department at Elizabethtown College for eight years prior to joining Susquehanna’s faculty.
Dr. Reuning was appointed Dean of Faculty at Susquehanna in 1959, a position he held until 1971, when he was named Vice President for Academic Affairs. While serving in these roles, he successfully led efforts to raise the academic standards and strengthen the curriculum of the university. In 1978, he stepped down as vice president for academic affairs and returned to teaching and advising students. During the last decade of his tenure, he inaugurated Susquehanna’s international studies program. He retired from teaching in 1989 after nearly 30 years of distinguished service.
During his career, Dr. Reuning received numerous accolades and professional affiliations. In 1965, he was elected to the executive committee of the Eastern Association of College Deans and Advisors of Students. He was a member of the American Historical Association, the Society for French Historical Studies, and the Conference Group of Central European History. He also held membership in Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society; Phi Gamma Mu, the international honor society in social studies; and Kappa Phi Kappa, a professional co-ed fraternity in education.
In 1967 he received an honorary doctorate from Susquehanna. He was honored in 1971 with the John E. Wilkinson Award for Administrative Excellence, and in 1984, he received Susquehanna’s Silver Quarter Century Cup.
In 2009, he and his wife commemorated his service to Susquehanna by establishing the Wilhelm and Ruth S. Reuning Library Endowment. The fund is used to purchase library materials to support the study of modern European history, his academic area of expertise.
In retirement, Dr. Reuning and his wife enjoyed traveling to the many places he studied. He also was active in the Selinsgrove community, serving on the Selinsgrove Borough Council from 1998 to 2007 and as vice president of the church council for Sharon Lutheran Church. He was also a member of the board of directors for the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.
Dr. Reuning is survived by his wife Ruth; his children Winifred Reuning, Frederick Reuning and Jan Callison, and Katherine and George Hepner; his five grandchildren; and his great grandson.
Services were held on March 6.
Memorial contributions in his memory may be made to Susquehanna University Library, 514 University Ave., Selinsgrove, PA 17870, or Sharon Lutheran Church, 120 S. Market St., Selinsgrove, PA 17870.
Arrangements were by the V.L. Seebold Funeral Home, 601 N. High St., Selinsgrove.