I am saddened to share the news of Professor de Bary’s passing. He was an inspiration to generations of students of Chinese thought. I knew him as a gracious and persistent interlocutor at the Columbia Neo-Confucianism Seminar that he continued to attend, as he continued to teach. His influence on our understanding of Neo-Confucianism throughout East Asia was enormous, and his early fascination with Huang Zongxi seems as relevant today as ever.
There is an obituary here; it begins: Wm. Theodore de Bary, acclaimed scholar of East Asian thought and a leader in the development of Asian Studies in the United States, died peacefully in his home, Hotokudo, in Tappan, New York, on July 14, 2017. John Mitchell Mason Professor Emeritus and Provost Emeritus of Columbia University at the time of his death, de Bary continued to teach after his formal retirement in 1989. Although weakened by a heart condition, he completed grading the papers for his last course in May, 2017….
The New York Times obituary is here.
The NYT obituary seems to entirely overlook his work as a scholar of Korean and Japanese intellectual history as well.
I recommend three tributes to Wm. Theodore de Bary that were published earlier this week at the AAS #AsiaNow blog. Carol Gluck (Columbia professor), Donald Keene (Columbia professor emeritus), and Larry Chengliang Hong (Columbia College ’17) share their reflections on Ted de Bary’s career and the influence he had on the field of Asian Studies, as well as on his students, colleagues, and friends.