Cover photo for Ralph Edward Glatfelter's Obituary
Ralph Edward Glatfelter Profile Photo
1939 Ed 2023

Ralph Edward Glatfelter

November 21, 1939 — October 19, 2023


Ralph Edward Glatfelter died on October 19, 2023. He was born in Wenatchee WA November 21, 1939, to Ralph and Mary Horey Glatfelter. His father enlisted in WWII and was killed in Okinawa in 1945.  Ed was then raised by his mother and her parents, whose farm he loved. He was a proud 1962 graduate of Whitman College, and he worked in their development office for two years after graduation. He left there to begin graduate school at Indiana University in 1965. It was there that he met Marilynne Tanberg, and they were married in 1966.  The two moved to Logan UT in 1970 where Ed was hired to teach Russian and Chinese history at Utah State University. His career at USU spanned 42 years.

Ed respected and sought knowledge. He was as interested in the larger world and the greater universe as he was in any single country or place. He was, above all, curious. He longed to travel, and found the perfect answer in Semester at Sea, where he was first a lecturer and soon the Executive Dean. He sailed around the world more than 10 times and visited more than 35 countries with Semester at Sea.  He encouraged students to get as far away from the ship as possible while in port to explore and interact with the new culture. He believed meeting the people was as important as seeing the sights.

He traveled, taught, and studied in China, spending a year as a visiting scholar at the Academy of Social Science of Shanghai. He established the International Student Exchange Program at Utah State University and co-founded USU’s Asian Studies Program, which he subsequently directed. That Ed was a fine teacher was evidenced by the many past students who approached him to recount how much they had learned from him. One former student honored him by establishing a scholarship in their two names. Several have become history teachers themselves.

Ed was kind, patient, flexible and forgiving; he bore no grudges. He was an empathic administrator. Above all he wanted to see students, faculty, and support staff succeed. He was head of USU’s History Department for 10 years and Associate Dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences for 18 years. He served as president of both the Rocky Mountain Association for Slavic Studies and the Western Social Science Association. In his capacity as Associate Dean of HASS, he served as the intermediary between the college and the contractor in the design and building of the Russell/Wanlass Performance Hall, proudly sporting a gifted hard-hat when he went to discuss and tour the developing facility.

Ed retired in 2013. He and Marilynne continued to travel whenever possible, and he also found more time to pursue his love of gardening. He spent hours digging, cultivating, and gifting beautiful vegetables. The Covid pandemic put an end to their travel but increased his interest in his yard and garden during the warm months and continued translation of Russian and Chinese at other times. He was a terrible poker player but good at table discussion. In the past eight years he and Marilynne enjoyed wintering in Carpinteria CA where they invariably shared a glass of wine on the beach at sunset. The two were married for 57 years, the best of friends who knew consistent support, encouragement, and love from each other. They knew they were better together.

Ed is survived by Marilynne; his sister Sharon Carpenter of Spokane Valley WA; his brother Douglas Adkins of Redding CA; a host of nieces and nephews; and many wonderful friends. He did not want a funeral; he wanted a party, which will be organized and announced later.      

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