Death of William R. LaFleur of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations

It is with great regret that we note the passing of Dr. William R. LaFleur of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations. The cause was a massive heart attack on Friday, February 26, 2010. He was 73 years old and is survived by his wife Mariko, his son David, and daughters Jeanmarie and Kiyomi.

Born in Patterson, New Jersey in 1936, Dr. LaFleur began his higher education at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and continued with graduate training at the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago. Dr. LaFleur taught as an authority on Japanese intellectual history at Princeton University, the University of California at Los Angeles, and Sophia University in Tokyo. In 1989 he became the first non-Japanese scholar to receive the Watsuji Tetsurô Culture Prize. In 1990 he came to the University of Pennsylvania as Professor of Japanese and the Joseph B. Glossberg Term Chair Professor of Humanities. From 1998 Dr. LaFleur served as the E. Dale Saunders Professor in Japanese Studies in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and also as a professor in the Department of Religious Studies.

Dr. LaFleur's published books covered topics from medieval literature in Mirror of the Moon (1978) and Awesome Nightfall (2003), both studies of the priest-poet Saigyô (1118-1180). Other works covered broader issues of religious thought, including The Karma of Words (1986) and Buddhism in Cultural Perspective (1988). He dealt with complicated issues of abortion in Liquid Life (1992). He edited Zen and Western Thought: Essays by Masao Abe (1985), recipient of a prize from the American Academy of Religion, and Dôgen Studies (1985). He also edited Dark Medicine: Rationalizing Unethical Medical Research (2008), a study on Japanese critics of American biotechnology and bioethics.

As a gifted poet and philosopher, Dr. LaFleur brought humanity and wisdom to the study of everything he encountered, from the taste of tea to the technology of medicine, from hungry ghosts to haiku poets. His students, colleagues, friends and family will miss him immensely.

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, April 3, 2010 (changed from April 4) at 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. at the Radnor Friends Meetinghouse with a reception to follow.

Please see the link below for the Meetinghouse:

http://www.quaker.org/radnor/index.html

In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent in Bill's honor to The Meadow Project, Radnor Religious Society of Friends, P.O. Box 8196, Radnor, PA 19087.

Since parking at the Meetinghouse is limited, the family asks attendees to park at:
Christ Church Ithan, 536 Conestoga Road, Villanova, 19085
http://www.christchurchithan.org/

From the parking lot at the church, someone will shuttle guests to the Meeting House. Therefore we advise you to get there early.

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