LEWISTON — Eric E. Hirshler, 93, died Wednesday, Aug. 30. He loved art museums and cathedrals, Roman ruins and archaeology, old master drawings and early modern German painting, opera and classical music. He loved to learn. He is much missed by his many friends and by those whose lives he expanded.
Married for 51 years to Marilyn Nair Hirshler (1931-2004), he was the son of popular Lewiston physician and surgeon Dr. Max Hirshler and Dr. Helene Hirshler. Born in Germany in 1924, Hirshler came to Lewiston in December 1938; he was a graduate of Lewiston High School (1942), earned his bachelor’s degree at Bowdoin College (1946) and his master’s and doctorate degrees at Yale University.
In the 1950s he worked in New York City at the United Restitution Organization, at UNESCO, and at the Leo Baeck Institute; he also began his long career as a professor, first at Rutgers University (Newark) and at Brooklyn College. In 1959 he joined the faculty of Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where he first taught German language and literature (1959-1965) and then became professor of art history (1966-1989); he served as chair of the department from 1965 to 1972 and director of the art gallery from 1967 to 1970.
During a leave from Denison, he was chair of the Department of Art History at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada (1972-1974). Fascinated by human history, Hirshler spent several summers as the principal investigator of the archaeological excavations in Sremska Mitrovica (Sirmium), in Serbia. He was the author and editor of the book “Jews from Germany in the United States” and he wrote a number of articles and numerous book reviews for academic journals. He was the recipient of grants from the Kress Foundation, the Lilly Foundation, and the Denison Research Foundation.
Professor Hirshler returned to Lewiston following his retirement in 1989. He volunteered at the Bowdoin Museum of Art and occasionally offered lectures at Bates College. He was a dedicated Friend of the Lewiston Public Library, serving on the board of that association and establishing the Marilyn N. Hirshler Book Fund to support the library’s acquisition of books about art and architecture.
His intellectual curiosity never waned, and he shared it with his favorite caregivers at Aging Excellence and, during his last week of life, with the merciful women at Hospice House in Auburn. His last regret was his unfinished book review about Austrian artist Egon Schiele.
Dr. Hirshler is survived by his daughter, Erica Hirshler, a senior curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and her husband, Harold Clark.
Please visit www.advantageportland.com to sign Eric’s guest book and leave memories and condolences for the family.
Eric E. Hirshler