News of the College February 2004

Vincenz Panny dies

Vincent Panny photo

Vincenz Panny, emeritus associate professor of German literature and language, died on September 22 at age 85. During his years at Reed, from 1963 to 1984, Panny was also the director of the language lab and a soccer coach.

Panny was born in Kuling, China, and was less than a year old when German settlers were banished from the country and his family fled to Hamburg, Germany. He received his early education at elite German schools, and became a senior leader in the Hitler Youth, overseeing and directing a platoon of children aged 10–14.

Panny rebelled against the conservative elite structure of his youth and later attended the liberal Lichtwark school, where he developed his love of theater. He was drafted into the German army at the age of 18 and attained the rank of lieutenant by the time he was 20. After serving in both France and Yugoslavia he was assigned to the staff of General Reinhard Gehlen, who had established an extensive intelligence network in the Soviet Union. Panny was captured by New Zealand forces in 1944 and was held in Egypt as a British POW until 1948. While there, he honed his English skills and began translating plays in order to start his first theater company and entertain fellow prisoners.

Postwar Germany offered little opportunity for Panny, so he emigrated to Australia. While there, he filled an unexpected vacancy for an elementary school teacher in Snowtown, South Australia.

Upon the urging of his younger brother, he moved in the mid 1950s to Eugene, Oregon, where he enrolled at the University of Oregon and earned his B.A. and M.A. in foreign languages. He also lectured on Germany of the 1930s and 1940s both before and during his time at Reed.

After retirement, Panny remained active by taking a variety of art and writing courses at Clark College and at a nearby senior center. Despite the loss of his vision, he continued writing his memoirs, stayed in touch with friends across the globe, and relished his role as father and grandfather.

Survivors include his daughters, Alice Cords and Erin Munoz; two sisters, Carola Panny and Jutta Lauer; and his brother, Rolf. He has one grandson, Logan Munoz, and several nieces and nephews in England, Germany, and New Zealand. End of Article

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Reed Magazine February 2004 2004
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