Dr Lewis Arthur Sumberg

January 29, 1924 ~ August 30, 2020 (age 96)


Born and raised in Schenectady, New York, Lew, or “Luigi” as he was known to close friends and family, had a full life. He graduated high school two years early, earning his B.A. at SUNY Albany. His studies were interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War. On completing officer training at Cornell, he served as a lieutenant on LST-799 (USS Greer County) in the Pacific, seeing action in the Battle of Okinawa. At the war’s end, his ship docked at Nagasaki, where he viewed the ruins left by the atomic bomb blast, an event that shaped his perspective on war for the remainder of his life. Despite this experience, he remained a proud veteran, viewing his service as one of his greatest achievements. Following the Lewis Arthur Matthew Sumberg, 96, died at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida on August 30, 2020. war, Lew returned to studies at the University of Montreal, receiving his Master’s in French. He also pursued studies in medieval history. He then earned his PhD (with highest honors) at the University of Paris (Sorbonne). Lew’s scholarly writings while in Paris earned him academic recognition, leading to his employment at Yale University. While teaching there, he met and soon married his beloved wife, Catherine. Lew and Catherine then moved on from Yale to Boston College, where Lew co-edited, with Fr. Joseph Gauthier, an anthology of French literature, Les Grands Ecrivains Francais (1964). Following publication, Lew accepted a full professorship at Lake Forest College. Through the 1960s and 1970s, he climbed the academic ladder across several universities, working at SUNY Oswego, and later becoming department chair at the University of Kentucky at Lexington and, finally, at UTC, where he closed his career as a professor emeritus. From the 1970s through 1980s, he also published the highly regarded French medieval history journal Tristania, which examined the Tristan and Isolde legend.

Far beyond his Navy service and academic accomplishments, Lew was proudest of and took most satisfaction in his family and in his vast circle of friends. Like many professors, he was an inveterate, and on occasion, relentless, conversationalist, keen to discuss, and to hold forth, on a wide range of subjects. He loved good food and was often teased for his rhapsodies of long-ago meals in exotic locales. Mostly though, Lew loved good company. He was a great one for painstakingly burnished anecdotes, ad hoc puns, absurd nicknames, bawdy limericks, and surprisingly direct and heartfelt compliments. He was strengthened and informed always by his deep Catholic faith and his belief that there are high ideals always to be served, and to be served humbly. While a lifelong, dyed-in-the-wool, Eisenhower Republican, Lew looked forward to voting for the opposition in the 2020 election, noting that he’d put his life on the line fighting extremist regimes in the Second World War.

Lew was predeceased by his beloved wife, Catherine (She Who Must Be Obeyed), in May 2020; by his parents Samuel and Rose; stepfather, Max; brother-in-law, Martin; sister-in-law, Darcy; and by lifelong friends, Bill Matheson, and Arsene and Anne-Marie Lauziere. He is survived and is deeply missed by his son, Chris/Beastopher (Mary Member of Parliament Pat); daughter, Martha/Miss Mush (Kevin) Moore and grandchildren, Alyssa and Aaron; sister, Betty; sister-in-law, Barbara; nephew and niece, Marty and Sue; and by many friends, including but not limited to Joel (Zainab) Lauziere, Pat and Vernon Lattin, Kimberly Astrand, Jim Massengale, Robert Stanley, Ted and Marcia Caldwell, Robin Vandergriff, Gail Carter, Satoko Thel, Pedro Campa, Linda Geselbracht, Trish Bowers, and Nancy Allshouse.

In light of coronavirus, no service will be held at this time. As with Lew’s wife, Catherine, a mass will be said at the Basilica of Sts. Peter & Paul in Chattanooga. (The mass will be video streamed and archived online.) Lew’s ashes will be interred at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama. Lew’s family asks that, in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and Chattanooga’s Hope Kitchen. Arrangements entrusted to Lane Funeral Home, 601 Ashland Terrace, Chattanooga, TN 37415. 423-877-3524

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