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September 15, 2019 at 11:58 am

University Colleagues Mourn Dr. Jack Bender, Professor of Philosophy

Jack Bender , portrait

Dr. Jack Bender

Dr. John “Jack” Bender, 67, Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Ohio University, died Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Kobacker House in Columbus.

“Jack joined Ohio University’s Department of Philosophy in 1985, where he also served as long-time Department Chair. Jack developed the department’s legal internship program, and taught, among many others, a very popular course on the Philosophy of Sex and Love. He authored many publications on the philosophy of art and aesthetics, epistemology, metaphysics, contemporary analytical philosophy, and the philosophy of mind,” said Dr. Florenz Plassmann, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.

“Jack Bender’s passing is a profound loss to Ohio University and the Philosophy Department. His decades of service to the university and department were characterized by the pursuit of excellence in all facets of his professional career,” said Dr. James Petrik, who will serve as acting chair of Philosophy.

“As a scholar, Jack was prolific and meticulous. His numerous publications in epistemology and aesthetics reflected his rigorous turn of mind and his talent for prose of signal elegance and clarity.

As a teacher at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, he gave generously of his time and expertise. His course in aesthetics was a highlight for many students, with Jack breathing life into the technical discipline with numerous examples drawn from his deep love for and practice of the arts. In the little spare time he had, he honed his talents as a painter, violinist, and gourmet chef,” Petrik said.

“He also was an outstanding mentor to our graduate students, directing a remarkable number of philosophy M.A. theses. Even when he became chair of the department and had numerous administrative demands on his time, Jack’s mentoring of the graduate students was unabated. This past summer highlights how Jack’s work with our graduate students continued apace while serving as chair. Four students successfully defended their theses with Jack serving on all four of the committees.

“As chair of the Philosophy Department, Jack was steadfast in his support of and advocacy for his colleagues. Though he was exacting with respect to his own work, he exhibited great generosity in his interactions with others. As I reflect on my own experiences with Jack, I’m struck by how frequently he responded with great kindness and patience, even in circumstances where he rightly could have been exasperated with me. I will miss him dearly and I know that I will be reminded of him daily by the positive and lasting ways he shaped the culture and practices of the Philosophy Department,” Petrik added.

“The Philosophy Department will miss Jack, partly because he was especially dedicated to our graduate students and enjoyed discussing philosophy and socializing with them at the excellent wine and cheese receptions he organized to welcome them and our visiting speakers,” said Dr. Alyssa Bernstein, Associate Professor of Philosophy.

“A lifetime member of the Ohio Philosophical Association, Jack dedicated his life to education. He obtained his B.A. at the University of Michigan with high distinction in 1973 and would later achieve his M.A. at Harvard University in 1975. In 1978, he earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University where his thesis would be included as part of the university’s Widener Library,” according to his obituary. “Jack is survived by his loving wife of 43 years, Mary; son, Matthew (Lacie) Bender; grandson, Maxton E. Bender; brothers, Tom (Tawnya) Bender and Jim Bender; niece, Emily (Alex) Jukowski; and nephew, Nathan Bender.”

A funeral will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m. at Hughes-Moquin Funeral Home with Pastor Jim Salyer officiating. Friends may call upon the family on Tuesday from 5 p.m. until the time of the service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Athens County Dog Shelter, 13333 OH 13, Chauncey, OH 45719. Friends and family are encouraged to sign the online guestbook.

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