Howard Hong, renowned Kierkegaard scholar, dies at 97

Howard and Edna Hong
Howard Hong with his wife and collaborator Edna.
Photo courtesy St. Olaf College

Howard Hong, a legendary St. Olaf College professor, and one of the nation's leading experts on the philosopher Kierkegaard, died Tuesday. He was 97.

Hong dedicated his life to studying the Danish philosopher, and translated all of his works into English. Colleague and friend Jack Schwandt said Hong was known as a dedicated teacher and dedicated scholar.

"He was available to students, but he also would get up at 3 o'clock in the morning to walk the one mile up the hill to do translations until the school day started," Schwandt said. "So he was very much a campus figure, but strictly on his terms."

Hong worked with his wife Edna Hong to produce 26 volumes of Kierkegaard's writings. They also founded a Kierkegaard library at St. Olaf based on their own collection of his work.

Hong began teaching at St. Olaf in the late 1930s but moved to Europe during the war to work with refugees and German prisoners of war.

He returned to teaching in Northfield, where he worked with successive generations of students, even recently, after he entered hospice care.

The college will hold a memorial service on campus on March 27.

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