LEWISTON — Craig Decker, professor of German and European studies at Bates College, died Saturday, March 17, at Central Maine Medical Center. The cause was cardiac arrest precipitated by respiratory failure.

Born in 1956 in Newark, N.J., Craig was raised in Kinnelon, N.J., by Russell and Clara Decker. A first-generation college student, he arrived at Bates College at 18 years of age having read one book: a sports biography. Four years later, he had honed his reading, writing and critical thinking skills; played kazoo in the Bates marching band; studied in Munich, Germany, for a year; been elected to Phi Beta Kappa; and earned a summa cum laude bachelor’s degree with highest honors in German.

He subsequently received his Ph.D. in German from the University of California, Irvine. After teaching at Oregon State University for one year, he was hired by Bates College. He and Susanne Fetherolf got married at the Benton County Courthouse in Corvallis, Ore., on Friday the 13th, then drove across the country to start their married life in Lewiston.

Over the course of his career, Craig taught courses ranging in breadth from Beginning German to German Cinema in Austria in the 20th Century. He developed and led programs for Bates students in Berlin, Germany, and Vienna, Austria. His publications include many articles, as well as books he edited and translations of works that originally appeared in German. Active in many professional organizations, he served as editor of the journal “Modern Austrian Literature” and as president of the Austrian Studies Association.

As intellectually rigorous as Craig could be, his primary interest was always people. His research and teaching focused on how literature and drama illustrated the effects of history, culture and politics on human lives. Wherever he went he was interested in what others had to say. He loved talking politics and life with his college classmate, Les Wilkinson, at China Lake, spending hours over a meal with his dear friend, Gerda Neu-Sokol, reading at Reid State Park and doing crossword puzzles anywhere.

He treasured friendships from his childhood in New Jersey, from college and graduate school, and from his Lewiston neighborhood and work. His contact with writers, friends and colleagues living abroad pleased him and kept him alert to international issues, and hearing what former students accomplished in their lives brought him great happiness.

In addition to his wife, Craig’s survivors include his son, Andrew (Shannon); daughter, Grace; two grandchildren; brother-in-law, David (Carrie); cousins; countless students taught over the past 34 years; and a remarkable family of friends and colleagues at Bates College who have supported and sustained him and his family through many challenging times.

Online condolences may be sent to www.funeralalternatives.net.

Craig Decker

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