Monday, December 2, 2013

Obituary: T.R. Fehrenbach made history read like the news

A sad day for all who study the history of the Korean War.  For his legacy we should wish that never again should we be unprepared.

T.R. Fehrenbach made history read like the news

BY MARIA LUISA CESAR : DECEMBER 1, 2013 : Updated: December 2, 2013 9:05am

Photo By San Antonio Express-News / File photo
T.R. Fehrenbach died of a congenital heart condition.

The larger-than-life historian, author and longtime San Antonio Express-News columnist T.R. Fehrenbach died Sunday morning — leaving a Texas-size hole in the hearts of those touched by his storytelling and knack for breathing life into history.
The former head of the Texas Historical Commission, Fehrenbach died of a congenital heart condition at Northeast Baptist Hospital. He was 88.
The iconic author was one of the longest-running Express-News columnists, with his work at the newspaper spanning close to three decades. He stopped contributing to the Express-News in late August, citing health reasons.
His wife, Lillian, said Sunday that she'll remember her husband as a Texas legend.
“Most of the people that read his column loved it,” she said. “He wrote it to make people think.”
No stone was left unturned by Fehrenbach, whose columns covered major political, ethical and religious issues but also touched on the more humorous events in life.
His contributions garnered numerous awards, including military and literary honors, and his stories appeared in dozens of publications, including Esquire, the Atlantic, Texas Monthly and the New Republic.
Admirers of his writing style said he often used the lessons of the past to guide his analysis of current events. His most famous work, “Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans,” has been called the most widely read history of the state.
The book, praised for its attention to detail and narrative style, opens with a descriptive declaration that hints at his writing prowess: “In the beginning, before any people, was the land: an immense region 265,000 square miles in area rising out of the warm muck of the green Gulf of Mexico, running for countless leagues of rich coastal prairies, forests and savannahs. ...”
Historical commission Executive Director Mark Wolfe said on the group's Facebook page that Fehrenbach “was the embodiment of the Texas Historical Commission's mission to preserve Texas history and to tell the real stories of the real places of the Lone Star State.”
“His knowledge of Texas was unsurpassed and recognized the world over,” Wolfe said in the post. “He was a true Texas treasure who will be greatly missed.”
A retired lieutenant colonel who served in World War II and the Korean War, Fehrenbach left an indelible mark as a historian and writer.
Born in San Benito, he graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University in 1947 and headed the historical commission for close to 20 years. In 2001, Gov. Rick Perry named him commissioner emeritus of the agency.
Richard Gambitta, former chairman of the University of Texas at San Antonio Department of Political Science and Geography, said Fehrenbach, who lived in the Alamo Heights area, “elevated the dialogue of Texas public policy.”
“It's the loss of one of the greatest historians,” he said by phone Sunday, calling the late author's work comprehensive and appealing to a wide audience.
Justice of the Peace and former state Sen. Jeff Wentworth said Fehrenbach was a “true renaissance man in the sense that he understood history and applied it regularly to the current state of affairs.”
He said Fehrenbach's passing leaves a hole in the voice of the state. To Wentworth, that hole emerged when Fehrenbach stopped writing his weekly column for the Express-News earlier this year.
“I mean I really, really missed it,” he said by phone Sunday night.
Express-News Editorial Page Editor Bruce Davidson said Fehrenbach was a unique columnist.
(Continued at the link below)

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