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Colleagues and students alike have long cherished Christiaan Lievestro, Professor Emeritus in the Department of English, for being a remarkable and patient teacher, faithful friend, and a man deeply committed to the goals of Jesuit and Catholic higher education. He died on June 19, 2017, at the age of 91. Having received degrees from SUNY Albany and Harvard, Professor Lievestro began his teaching career at Harpur College and Drexel University. He came to Santa Clara in 1969, where he taught in the English Department until his retirement in 1994. His courses included a collection of self-designed comparative literature classes and interdisciplinary honors courses. In 1993, he received the Outstanding Advising Award by NACADA, the Global Community for Academic Advising. The award was a testament to his generous dedication to his students. In addition to his professional and personal contributions to SCU, Professor Lievestro’s legacy will live on through the Christiaan Theodoor Lievestro Prize—made possible by his generosity. It will be awarded to a graduating English major for excellence in the student’s portfolio of English essays.
A gifted and beloved teacher, Chris believed that the job of a teacher is “to liberate the student from the teacher.” He did it well. Over the course of his career, Chris nurtured, challenged and inspired thousands of students. He was a faithful friend to college classmates, family members, professional colleagues and former students over multiple decades. His handwritten letters were blessings to receive … often including carefully selected newspaper clippings, and always infused with words of encouragement and love.
Recognizing Chris’ many talents and his commitment to the humanities and interdisciplinary thinking, an associate described him as “the reincarnation of the ‘Renaissance’ man.” Chris made the most of his brilliant and ever-urious mind. Fluent first in Dutch, then English, French, and German, he was a voracious reader and lifelong learner. As a teacher and friend, Chris lovingly inspired students and friends alike to be liberated … and to live richer and more beautiful lives.
Christiaan Theodoor Lievestro, 91, of Los Gatos passed away in San Jose on June 19. Chris was born in Ballston Spa, New York, on May 22, 1926 to Dora (Klumper) and Berend Lievestro.
A Bachelor of Arts graduate of the State University of New York at Albany, Chris studied as a Fulbright Scholar in Holland, before attending Harvard, where he earned his Master of Arts and doctorate. He went on to do postdoctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania.
In addition to his studies, he sang with the Boston and Philadelphia Orchestras, took the stage with multiple theater groups, and performed in Constitution Hall in Washington D.C.; Convention Hall, Philadelphia; and at the Lincoln Memorial.
As an English professor at SCU, Chris taught a collection of self-designed comparative literature classes and numerous interdisciplinary honors courses. His Bloomsbury Group Seminar and Time Seminar were among his favorites. He penned, edited, and reviewed numerous articles in his field of comparative literature.
Upon his retirement, he commented, “I love to teach and I think I did well with it, but I don’t have to be vulnerable standing in front of people all the time anymore, which is lovely.” Yet he continued to teach as a beloved friend and mentor to his many colleagues and former students, sharing his wisdom and insights about history, literature, and life.
Chris is survived by his two sisters, Joan (Lievestro) Tarbox and Bert (Lievestro) Finch, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his beloved partner, John Dilkes, and his brothers, Berend Lievestro and Louis Lievestro.
In lieu of a memorial, donations can be made to the Humane Society (Chris was a dog lover) or the Lievestro Prize for best portfolio of work by a graduating senior English major. Donations may be sent in care of the English Department at Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara 95053.