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Teacher Edgar W. Hirshberg dies at 86

A charter faculty member at USF, he was an author and a mentor to aspiring writers.


© St. Petersburg Times, published July 2, 2002

A charter faculty member at USF, he was an author and a mentor to aspiring writers.

Edgar Walter Hirshberg was an author, but his real gift to literature was teaching thousands of students, young and old, how to write.

Mr. Hirshberg, who served as a mentor to scores of amateur writers during his 30 years as an English professor at the University of South Florida, died of congestive heart failure Saturday. He was 86.

"No person is replaceable," said John Iorio, a longtime friend and fellow USF professor. "But Ed Hirshberg, more than any other, is an irreplaceable item on the Tampa scene because of his style, his outspokenness, his honesty, his integrity. It's very hard to come across someone who combines all those qualities."

Mr. Hirshberg was one of the driving forces behind the Tampa Writers' Alliance and the Florida Suncoast Writers' Conference, which draws about 450 aspiring writers annually to St. Petersburg.

Mr. Hirshberg was born in Detroit and raised outside Boston. He graduated from Harvard in 1938 and joined the Army, where he served as a translator for the Office of Strategic Services in Europe. He remained in England to study for a master's degree in English literature at Cambridge University.

Shortly after his return to the United States, he met his wife Ann, whom he married in 1947. The couple moved to Connecticut, where in 1951 Mr. Hirshberg received a doctorate from Yale.

He taught at Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina State and East Carolina universities, and in 1960 he became a charter faculty member at South Florida. After retiring from USF in 1990, he continued to teach creative writing at the Hillsborough County Life Enrichment Center.

In 1999, Mr. Hirshberg and his wife founded the Ann and Ed Hirshberg Scholarship in Creative Writing at USF.

Mr. Hirshberg's survivors include his wife, Ann, now living in Philadelphia; three daughters, Carolyn Gessner, of Elkins Park, Pa., Lucy McLeod, of Emmaus, Pa., and Jane Schmidt, of Exeter, N.H.; and eight grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held in Tampa in September. The family has asked that contributions be made to the Friends of the Library of Hillsborough County or the Tampa Writers' Alliance.

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