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Grebel Mourns Loss of Historian Werner Packull

Monday, April 30, 2018

Professor Emeritus Werner O. Packull passed away on April 27, 2018 at the age of 76. Werner began his teaching career at Renison College at the University of Waterloo and later moved to Grebel. Upon the urging of former president Rod Sawatsky, Werner joined the Grebel faculty in 1983 to teach Reformation history and pursue Anabaptist studies. He was a mentor to many, and his passionate teaching inspired generations of students.

“As a historian of the Reformation, Werner helped to illuminate the complicated and diverse origins of the Anabaptist movement—offering valuable insights for both the church and the academy," noted Grebel Dean Marlene Epp. “He was a wonderful teacher, and a kind and humorous man.”

In a career spanning more than thirty years, Werner established himself as a premier historian of early modern Europe, specializing in Radical Reformation studies. He was recognized as the world’s expert in the history of 16th-century Anabaptist communities in Moravia. One of his books, Hutterite Beginnings, is a classic among present-day Hutterites.

Karin and Werner PackullIn 2002, Werner’s colleagues and students created a Festschrift for him. Edited by Professor Emeritus Arnold Snyder, Commoners and Community: Essays in Honour of Werner O. Packull contains original studies by thirteen leading scholars.

After 20 years of scholarship and teaching at Grebel, Werner retired in August 2003. On that occasion, he established the Karin Packull Anabaptist Studies Award at Grebel, to thank his wife Karin, who steadfastly supported his endeavours and achievements.

“I believe that I took every single undergraduate course that Werner taught when I was a student here at Grebel,” reflected Grebel President Marcus Shantz. He invested a great deal of his time outside of the classroom in mentoring students, and more than one went on to careers as scholars with the help of Werner’s encouragement and support. The entire Grebel community offers sympathy, prayer, and support to Karin and the family.”

Werner Packull's Obituary

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