In Memoriam - Harold (Hal) Peter Simonson (1926-2011)

Submitted by Arts & Sciences Web Team on

Harold (Hal) Peter Simonson was born December 27, 1926, in Tacoma and died there June 6, 2011. He is survived by Carolyn, his wife of over 59 years; children Eric (Erin), Greta, and Peter (Ann); grandchildren Maria, John, Emma, Audrey, Olivia, and Erika; and ten nieces and nephews.

In Tacoma, he attended Grant Elementary School, Jason Lee Intermediate School, Stadium High School, and the College of Puget Sound (BA, BEd) and for a time served in the US Army. At Northwestern University (MA, PhD) he met Carolyn. At the University of St. Andrews (Scotland) he earned his theological degree (BPhil in Divinity).

His teaching career included Puyallup High School; Fulbright teacher at the American Farm School, Salonika, Greece; teaching assistant at Northwestern University; University of Puget Sound (13 years); and University of Washington (23 years). Research and honorary fellowships allowed study at Princeton Theological Seminary, Yale Divinity School, and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Hal authored 11 books, numerous scholarly articles and reviews, and he wrote and edited several college textbooks. His academic interests focused on early American literature, Hawthorne and Melville, the American West, and religion.

After retirement in 1991, he was ordained by Tacoma’s First Congregational church and served two periods as interim minister. He also was a volunteer hospice chaplain and a Tacoma Nightwatch minister.

Hal enjoyed travel in America, Europe, and the Near East. He summited Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier twice, and hiked countless trails in Mt. Rainier National Park and the Cascades. He also enjoyed walking ocean beaches and Tacoma’s Ruston Way waterfront.

He was a loving husband, father, grandfather; an earnest teacher and author; and a steadfast friend to many


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