Mystery Zag Reveal: Did you guess the right Zag?

Father Fredric Schlatter

June 15, 2021

Our Mystery Zag from
the Spring 2021 issue Is . . .

Fr. Fredric Schlatter, S.J.
Powers Chair of the Humanities
Chair of Classical Languages
1960-1997


He was chair of classical languages for 28 years and acting chair of the History department for one. An accomplished academic and talented instructor, Fr .Schlatter received the Distinguished Teacher Award in 1971, and the Burlington Northern Teacher of the Year award in 1985. He was named the Robert K. and Ann J. Powers Chair of Humanities. Although honored as Professor Emeritus in 1998, he continued to teach until 2010. His legacy continues through a book award in his name, honoring academic excellence among seniors at Gonzaga in the fields of classics and classic civilizations. He died in 2016.


READERS RESPOND


An incredible scholar and master of his material, he easily could have spent his time researching and publishing major academic works, but he chose to dedicate his time and energy to teaching. He was moved by the beauty of the literature, and he shared that passion with us every day, and he could do it all with a great sense of self-deprecating humor. Long after I graduated, my mother passed away. Father wrote to me with a deep understanding of the pain of that loss. He was able to cut right to the heart of both my mother’s pain and my own. That’s the kind of teacher and person he was.

-Shawn Allen ('01)
Renton, Wash.

His teaching interspersed stories into dry textbooks. He compared some of the writings to the National Enquirer, which made everyone want to read them. He had a way of making history come alive. Every Friday he would take attendance and if someone wasn’t there, he’d say  “I see Mr. Smith is absent today. Too many beers at the Bulldog Tavern last night?” He always had a smile and if you needed help he was right there to see what he could do.

-Julie (Holgerson) Anderson (’93)
Seattle

My Greek professor. It was always “Yes, Miss Fischer, Yes, Mr. Nielsen,” in class – never first names. My adviser told me to take  “Roman Art and Archeology” (even though I had no interest in the subject) because Fr. Schlatter was teaching it. He said, “If Fr. Schlatter is teaching the phonebook, you should take the class!”

-Sharon Fischer (’75)
Spokane

He’s the greatest teacher I had through all levels of my education. A brilliant scholar, he had high standards and expectations and motivated me to achieve results that have stayed with me throughout my personal and professional life. He was demanding, but always fair and had a tremendous impact on my life.

-Greg Hicks (’80, ’83)
Spokane

He was a brilliant man and an engaging conversationalist, and his self-deprecating sense of humor could never mask his charm or his wit.  More importantly, he exuded a warmth of spirit that made others feel truly seen, known and valued. If he had a super power, that would be it,  connecting with people. He was a humble and honest man of God who positively impacted the faith life of our family.

-Tracy Schlatter
Tacoma, Wash.

I don’t believe he had a driver’s license, as he would occasionally hire me to drive him to some appointment. He was perfectly prepared for every lecture, and challenged you to meet him at his level without having to say it. You did not want to disappoint him. I have spent 45 years wondering if my work would have earned his respect. He was a gentleman and a scholar, an essentially kind man with a dry but deadly sense of humor.

-Patrick Hayden (’76)
Sedro-Wooley, Wash.

I and my friends soaked up the sordid stories of Caesar and hilarious histories of Suetonius that Father Schlatter would regale us with – but all of us drew inspiration from his words. From the fall of the Roman Republic to the rise of the Empire – it didn’t matter if you actually took the class – it was cause for consideration, debate and late-night discussions at Jack & Dan’s or the Bulldog. We are all a cohort of Zags, due in large part to people like Father Schlatter. It was a community that didn’t force us to do anything other than discover who and what we are and could become.

-Lance Jacobsen ’93
Washington, D.C.

I worked at Jesuit House, and one time the code on the locked door had been changed. We all had a hard time remembering it (1491) so I made up a little jingle to help remember. “In fourteen hundred and ninety-one, St. Ignatius’ life had just begun.” Father (Ken) Krall and Father Schlatter came to the door and I told them the jingle. Father Krall said that it was helpful but that the meter was off just a little. “Let’s try that in Greek.” Father Schlatter said, “Let’s try the jingle in Latin.” Then Father (Al) Morrisette came and said “Let’s try it in French.” English, Greek, Latin or French, we all learned the new code number that day.

-Beth Irene Cullitan
Nine Mile Falls, Wash.

Fr. Schlatter was an excellent teacher, very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the subjects. In 1977, my classmate Diane Schaub and I married and went to Europe for an extended honeymoon. Naturally, we looked up Fr. Schlatter, who was on sabbatical in London. Imagine our delight when he gave us a guided tour of the British museum, culminating in him treating us to an Indian dinner.

-Norbert Ganska (’75)
Reno, Nevada

Our Greek class started at 8 every morning M-F, and at exactly 8 a.m. Fr. Schlatter would close the classroom door and have all of us recite aloud in unison the Greek alphabet and verb conjugations. This would subject any late student to the humiliation of opening the door and disrupting the whole class. One morning, Fr. Schlatter was a couple minutes late. We were seated and ready, so I suggested that we close the door on him and start reciting the Greek alphabet without his watchful supervision. About 1 minute later the door opened and a startled Fr. Schlatter walked in
on us, but we ignored him and kept on reciting our Greek alphabet. His shock and astonishment soon turned into the biggest smile I ever  saw on his face! He knew he had us trained very well!

-Michael Amore (‘83)
Honolulu

Fr. Fredric Schlatter was one of the kindest, gentlest and brightest scholars the Jesuit world has ever seen. He ran the Classics floor of Crosby Library. His students were devoted to him and often sought him out. Later, after my children were born, I used to take them for a visit. He would embrace the kids as if he were their very grandfather. A great man he was.

-Mary Brooks (‘70)
Portland, Ore.

Fr. Fredric Schlatter, S.J., agreed to teach a small upper-division Latin class at the young age of 76 or 77 in addition to his other duties and projects. Later, he was gracious enough to continue with us by teaching Augustine’s “Confessions.” Fr. Schlatter took a genuine interest in us and cared deeply about our whole person. I remember many occasions chatting with him about vocation, faith and various uncertainties I was facing at the time. He was quick to correct but equally quick with encouragement and godly advice. Some of my favorite student memories were in his class or even at Jesuit House where he hosted us to meals that made us all joke about vows of poverty. He was a true father and I am thankful for his instruction and encouragement in my Christian faith.

-Cory Madsen (‘03, ‘06)
Cortez, Colo


In 1971, when I was a freshman, I also attended Bishop White Seminary. I never took any of Fr. Schlatter’s classes but some of the mensa brainiacs at Bishop White waxed eloquent about the depth and sterling quality of his classes and tried to recruit others to take a class from him. They considered him of the same caliber as Fr. Davis S.J., who taught “Western Civilization” and everyone at Bishop White raved about it. Fr. Schlatter and Fr. Davis were considered the summit of scholarly erudition among us.

-Greg Foxley (‘79)
Palmer, Alaska

I was delighted to see my advisor and friend Fr. Schlatter featured in Who's this Zag.  There is no one in my life more responsible for me choosing a career as a teacher than Fr. Schlatter.  He was an inspiration to many and simply the best teacher I have ever had.  He possessed tremendous knowledge of subject matter but more importantly could deliver it clearly and memorably.  Each day was like another episode of a great film.   He engaged us and challenged us and sometimes he even made us laugh with pointed but gentle admonishment.  He inspired me to try to be a great teacher but I could never be half the scholar he was.  I took every class he offered aside from Greek.  The 8 am classes were too much for me.  As an advisor he gently guided me down the correct path despite my obstinance and foolishness and truly cared about me as a student and person. He remained a friend and advisor after graduation. I know Fr. Schlatter would be pleased by the success of the university but for this Classics professor the only March Madness he cared about was the Roman Senate's treatment of Julius Caesar (Beware the Ides of March!!!)

-Patrick Mulligan ('86)
Seattle

Why that’s Fr. Fred Schlatter, SJ, One of my favorite teachers when I was a Jesuit philosopher at Gonzaga from 1980 until 1982 at Bea House!  He was a gentleman and a scholar and a well loved brother Jesuit.

-Fr. Joe Cocucci ('82)
Lewes, Delaware

 The mystery Zag in the Spring, 2021 edition of Gonzaga is Fr. Fredric Schlatter, S.J.  After his ordination as a Jesuit priest in 1956, Fr. Schlatter went on to Princeton University to obtain a doctorate in the Classics.  Upon completing his doctoral studies, Fr. Schlatter spent seven years as the Dean of Classics at the Jesuit Novitiate in Sheridan, Oregon.  Few people are aware that coupled with his academic responsibilities, he was almost single-handedly responsible for cataloging and shipping the entire classics collection from the Juniorate program in Sheridan to the Crosby Library at Gonzaga where he also supervised the cataloging and shelving of that entire valuable collection in 1968.  In addition to being the Crosby Librarian, Fr. Schlatter spent the next thirty years teaching in the Classics and History Departments at Gonzaga. Those of us who were fortunate to have Fr. Schlatter as a teacher know that in spite of his brilliance as a classicist, philosopher, and historian, with enviable patience and skill, he was able to reduce the most complicated subject matter to terms that even the least gifted of us could comprehend.  His gifts as a scholar and teacher were enhanced by his deep faith, absolutely guileless humor, perpetual kindness, and profound humility.  He was truly, "a gentleman and a scholar."  Although I never obtained his level of perfection, I emulated him throughout my own thirty-five year teaching career in a meager attempt to even approximate his success in the classroom.
He was named Professor Emeritus in 1997, but remained at Gonzaga as a mentor to students and colleagues alike until declining health necessitated his move to the Jesuit Infirmary in Los Gatos, CA. in 2014 until his death in 2016 at the age of 90.

-Paddy Inman ('69)
Mead, Washington

WHO'S THIS ZAG? 

This consultant, speaker, administrator and educator came in 1988 to direct Gonzaga’s Indian Education Technical Assistance Center. He has taught undergraduate courses in education, psychology, sociology, religious studies and philosophy, and graduate classes in organizational leadership and business. A sought-after speaker, he once had the opportunity to introduce Coretta Scott King. Perhaps few have had a bigger impact on helping us understand and appreciate each other’s innate human dignity.

If you know this mystery Zag, share a favorite memory. Email editor@gonzaga.edu, or write to Editor, Gonzaga Magazine, Gonzaga University, 502 E. Boone Ave., Spokane, WA 99258-0070.