Richard Erden Detlef

May 28, 1935 ~ March 4, 2018 (age 82)

Richard E. Detlef, 82, passed calmly into death at his home after a brief illness.

Richard grew up in Lakewood, OH, earned a BA in English literature at Kenyon College and graduated from Oxford University with an AB in English and linguistics.  He taught English at Heidelberg College in Tiffin, OH, where he met his wife.  While studying medieval and Renaissance literature for his Ph.D. at Princeton University, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the Sorbonne in Paris, where he focused on Old French and Latin sources of Chaucer.   After returning to the States, he taught English and medieval literature at the Ohio State University.  In South Bend, he taught at St. Mary’s College, later worked at the Associates Corp. and conducted educational research for the US Dept. of Education.

In retirement, he volunteered extensively to improve the lives of those suffering from substance abuse and AIDS.  He was also active in leadership at Southside Christian Church.  He continued to be passionate about medieval literature and thought, classical music, and opera and was instrumental in initiating live HD broadcasts of the New York Metropolitan Opera to the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center at Notre Dame.  At the time of his illness, he was reading modern French and German novels and Latin theological treatises, as well as swimming daily at the YMCA.

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Joanne, a brother, John Detlef of Santa Cruz, CA, sons Michael of Vancouver, WA and Peter of Dallas, TX, daughters Sarah of Wiesbaden, Germany and Susannah (Joe) Bradley of Portland, OR, young grandsons Henry, Samuel and Nathaniel Bradley, niece Elizabeth Shelton-Meadow, nephew Steven Bailey, and sister-in-law Dorthy Bailey Johnson.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, March 11 at 1PM at Evangel Heights United Methodist Church, 114 N. Ironwood Ave., South Bend, with reception following.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Broadway Christian Parish, 1412 Carroll St, South Bend, IN 46613 and AIDS Ministries, 201 S. William Street, South Bend, IN 46601. Palmer Funeral Home River Park is assisting the family. Condolences may be given online at

Donations may be made to:

Broadway Christian Parish
1412 Carroll Street, South Bend IN 46613
Tel: 1-574-289-0333

Aids Ministries - Aids Assist of Northern Indiana
P. O. Box 11582, South Bend IN 46634
Tel: 1-574-234-2870

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