John Dahl

SAVOY – John R. Dahl, professor emeritus, 92, died on Friday (Jan. 15, 2016) at Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Violet; and two daughters, Maureen Newman of Champaign and Lisa (Brian) McClean of Coral Springs, Fla.

Also surviving are two grandsons, Sean McClean and Christopher Newman; and two great-grandchildren, Kimberly and Jacob Newman.

Professor Dahl was born on Nov. 6, 1923, in Tacoma, Wash., the son of Margaret and John Dahl. Both of his parents, a younger brother and a son-in-law (Kenneth Newman) preceded him in death.

A veteran of the Army Air Force, he served with the 8th Army Air Force in England during World War II. Upon returning to the States, he was hospitalized at Peterson Field, Colorado Springs, Colo., where he met and married his nurse, Lt. Violet R. Holdiman.

A graduate of the University of Washington in Seattle, Professor Dahl rowed on the crew as an undergraduate. He earned his M.A. in history after the war and began his teaching career at the University of Northern Iowa. Subsequently, he taught in the public schools of Minneapolis and Edina, Minn., before coming to the University of Illinois in 1967.

In 1963, he was selected as a John Hay Fellow in the Humanities at Yale University, where he was also an Honorary Fellow of Calhoun College. In addition, he was an adjunct professor in the M.A.T. Program. Prior to his retirement from the UI in 1989, he was a member of the National Humanities Faculty.

During the tenure of Athletic Director Cecil Coleman, he was a member of the Board of the Athletic Association. He was also associate chairman of the Department of History under the chairmanship of Professor Robert Sutton.

For many years he was chairman of the Faculty Advisory Committee for the Newman Foundation under its director and chaplain, Monsignor Edward J. Duncan.

Professor Dahl was a professed member of the Secular Franciscan Order for over 50 years. Locally, he served as an officer of the Serra Club of Champaign-Urbana, including two terms as president and as district governor for Serra Clubs in Illinois and northern Indiana. At St. Matthew’s, he was also a lector and Eucharistic minister.

The funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church, 1303 Lincolnshire Drive, Champaign, with burial to follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Champaign. There will be no visitation.

Owens Funeral Home, Champaign, is assisting the family with arrangements. Condolences may be offered at

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