David Balzer, a retired professor of education at the University of Toledo who was active in the American Association of University Professors, died of a stroke Sunday, April 10, 2011, in University of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia. He was 81.
Mr. Balzer died after being stricken at his home that same day and put on life support at the hospital, his son Dan said. His career at UT spanned 30 years, until his retirement in 1998. He was president of the UT chapter of the AAUP when the organization won certification to be the faculty bargaining unit in labor negotiations. Michael Kay, a retired history professor who worked closely with Mr. Balzer on the organizing effort, recalled that "David put in many, many hours. He was totally devoted and he was one of the kindest and sweetest people you would ever want to meet."
Mr. Balzer was hired by UT in 1968 as an associate professor of education. Over the years, he was director of the College of Education's School Field Experiences, which oversaw student teaching; was adviser to the Bilingual-Bicultural Teacher Education Project and the Toledo Excel program, and served as associate director of the university's Center for International Studies and Program. He was made a full professor in 1977 and given emeritus status upon his retirement.
His interest in education wasn't limited to the United States, and he took leaves from UT to serve in positions that enabled him to aid developing countries in Africa and Central America. From 1977 to 1979, he was chief technical adviser to the National Teacher Training College in Maseru, Lesotho, in a project managed by the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization and funded by the U.N. Development Program. From 1985 to 1989, he lived in Swaziland as technical adviser to a teacher education project run by Ohio University and the U.S. Agency for International Development. In 1966 to 1967, before he took his UT position, he was an adviser in education to the ministry of education in El Salvador as part of a USAID project to plan and organize a teacher training project.
Mr. Balzer was born in Mountain Lake, Minn., the younger of Georgia and David Balzer's two children. He graduated from Mountain Lake High School as valedictorian of the class of 1946 and earned a bachelor's degree from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He earned his master's degree and PhD in education from the University of Minnesota. In 1951, he went to Mexico as a volunteer with the American Friends Service Committee, the Nobel Prize-winning service organization affiliated with the Quakers. Mr. Balzer was raised a Mennonite, but he wrote to his Selective Service board in 1952 disclaiming conscientious objector status and was drafted in 1952. He was honorably discharged after serving two years at Camp Breckenridge, Ky., and Camp Pickett, Va. His son said he disclaimed the conscientious objector status he could have qualified for because he felt there were others more worthy of it than he.
Mr. Balzer began his education career as an elementary school teacher in Forest Park, Ill., before beginning his graduate studies. From 1963 to 1968, he was an instructor and then assistant professor in education at Penn State University. He and his wife, Milly, who taught English at Maumee High School and then became a registered nurse, were married for 53 years. They were members of Park Congregational Church during their 35 years in the Toledo area. They lived in Maumee and West Toledo and moved to the Philadelphia area in 2003 to be near their daughter, Naomi Haas.
Surviving are his wife, Milly; daughter, Naomi Haas; sons, Ned and Daniel, and four grandchildren. A memorial service will be held Saturday in Foulkeways retirement community, Gwynedd, Pa. The family suggests tributes to the American Friends Service Committee