Remembering Donald “Doc” Scholz, Longtime Benedictine College Philosophy Professor

Remembering “Doc” Scholz

Published: Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dr. Don Scholz, 1987 Educator of the Year

Dr. Donald F. “Doc” Scholz, longtime philosophy professor at Benedictine College, passed away at his home in Atchison, Kan., on December 20. Services were held Dec. 29, but you can still leave online condolences and sympathy cards at Memorial contributions are suggested to Benedictine College and may be left in care of Arensberg-Pruett Funeral Home. 

Scholz was born in 1932 in St. Paul, Minn., and graduated from the College of St. Thomas (St. Paul) in 1954 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy. He completed his licensure and doctoral degree in philosophy at Laval University in Canada.

He came to St. Benedict’s College in 1965 and served on the Benedictine faculty until 2003. During much of that time, he was the chair of the Philosophy Department and was a member of many professional organizations, including the American Catholic Philosophical Association, the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and the Society for Aristotelean Studies.

After his official retirement, he continued to teach a course at the college every fall semester until 2011. And he was active at St. Benedict's Parish as an usher to the end.

In 1987, he was named the Benedictine College Educator of the Year. The late Fr. Gerard Senecal, OSB, president of Benedictine College at the time, said Scholz was a “catalyst for learning” and was being honored to recognize his distinguished service, superior teaching, notable research and perceptive student counseling.

“Dr. Scholz has provided Benedictine College with a philosophical point of reference for more than two decades,” Senecal quoted from one of the nominations during the 1987 event. “Through years of flux, changes and the merger, he has been a stabilizing influence, not only in his department, but for the college as a whole.”

And he continued to be a “catalyst for learning” for nearly two more decades beyond that. His influence was far-reaching and he was a favorite during alumni reunions. Current Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis, a 1982 Benedictine graduate, has seen Scholz’ contributions to the school through the eyes of a student, alumnus, Board member and college administrator.

“He was so important to Benedictine College,” Minnis said. “He built the Philosophy Department into a strength of the college and was a key supporter of Catholic identity. We will remember him fondly and we miss him already.”

Kelly Vowels, a 1985 Benedictine College graduate and current Vice President for Advancement at the college, had Scholz as a professor and maintained a friendship with him over the years. She saw how much he meant to generations of Ravens.

“Throughout the years, many alumni returning for Alumni Reunion Weekend have asked for ‘Doc’ Scholz,” she said. “They wanted to seek him out specifically to thank him for the impact he had on their lives. He was well loved.”

Dr. Joseph F. Wurtz, Dean of Students at Benedictine College, also had Scholz as a professor while a student. He graduated in 1999 and clearly remembers his classes and the impact they had on him to this day.

“Doc was a beloved professor who taught me to appreciate philosophy, cappuccino and cognac,” he said with a smile. “His life was a pursuit of the ultimate questions and I will forever hear his persistent voice driving me to discover the truth of things. His friendship will be missed, but his legacy will endure.”

He is survived by his wife, Anita, and his daughter, Alba.