A Note From the Chair: WLC Remembers

CATEGORIES: February 2016

Dear WLC Friends,

It is with profound sadness that I report the passing of two great friends and colleagues.

Elizabeth S. Rectanus, who retired in 2013 from WLC after 16 years, passed away in January 2016.  At the time of her retirement, Elizabeth was the sole academic adviser in the department, and for many years she also was a lecturer of German.  Elizabeth was born in Springfield, MA, earned a B.S. in Biology and J.D. in Law at the University of Mississippi.  After law school, Elizabeth worked for the Legislative Audit Committee in the Mississippi State Legislature. Later, she received an M.A. in German from Mississippi State University and continued graduate studies at Washington University in St. Louis where she met her husband, Mark. Mark and Elizabeth were married in Munich, Germany and moved to Ames where they became members of the faculty at ISU.


As an adviser, Elizabeth was caring and dedicated.  She was known to put her students first, and work on their behalf to resolve their problems, listen to their concerns, or offer helpful advice. Of special note was her passion for study abroad, and many students studied in countries across the world because of Elizabeth’s influence.  As a teacher, she had a strong classroom presence and an absolute love for the German language and culture.  To this day, students often comment on the impact Elizabeth had on their lives.

On a personal level, Elizabeth was thoughtful, fun, and she had a great sense of humor and an absolute love for travel and cooking. Many of us had the good fortune to great stories about New Orleans or Germany, or the many other places she loved to visit.

Although we are profoundly saddened by this loss to the WLC family, we nonetheless celebrate Elizabeth’s life and remember her commitment to WLC and ISU. In that spirit, the Department has sponsored The Elizabeth Rectanus Memorial Scholarship in her honor.  This fund will provide scholarship to help students studying abroad in Germany during the upcoming year.  If you would like to make a contribution to help fund the Elizabeth Rectanus Memorial Scholarship, please do so by following this link to the ISU Foundation: http://www.foundation.iastate.edu/rectanus Any amount is of great value to the students who will benefit from this scholarship opportunity.

I am equally saddened to inform you that Robert Bernard, former Professor of French and Italian, passed away February 11, 2016.  Bob was born in Detroit, MI on September 15, 1935, attended the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN where he discovered a love for French literature.  He went on to complete a Masters and Ph.D. at the University of Kansas where he wrote his dissertation on the Fifteenth-Century French author, Christine de Pizan.  In 1965 Bob took a position on the faculty at Iowa State where he taught French language and culture including cinema, and beginning and intermediate Italian until he retired.


Bob raised two sons from a first marriage in Ames, and in 1996 he married Julie Minkler who had originally emigrated from Athens, Greece.  Two sons, Christopher and Peter, a stepson, Stefan Minkler, and several grandchildren survive him.

For those who had the pleasure and privilege to work with Bob, we remember his passion for French literature and film, and his uncanny ability to get undergraduates to appreciate Classic American films of the silent era.  And he was especially fascinated by Italian cinema.  His research and teachings often took him abroad to France and Italy as well as to Julie’s native Greece.

More than anything, I remember his wonderful sense of humor and his pleasant nature. I also recall running into him after his retirement from WLC where he happily shared what he had been doing since retirement.  Robert Bernard will be greatly missed, but we remember him fondly.