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November 12, 2015

Obituary: Zdenek L. Suda

SudaZdenek L. Suda, professor emeritus in sociology, died in St. Louis, Missouri, on Oct. 21, 2015, at the age of 95.

Recalls John Markoff, a fellow sociology faculty member who joined the department after Suda: “He was somebody of enormous learning and knowledge about East European societies and cultures and he wrote authoritatively about the history of the Czech communist party. He was a very gracious colleague.”

Born in Pelhrimov, in what was then Czechoslovakia, Suda received his PhD in sociology in 1948 from Charles University in Prague and then undertook further study on international relations in 1950 in the Graduate Institute of International Studies at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. He received a certificate of studies in European integration from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium, in 1951.

Before joining the Pitt faculty, Suda played a key early organizing role in the United Europe movement — the precursor of the European Union — in Paris as a member of the staff of the International Secretariate of the European Movement, 1949-53, running conferences, seminars and study sessions promoting the idea of West European integration. From 1954 to 1968, he worked as a journalist on the Czechoslovak desk of the United States government-sponsored news agency Radio Free Europe in Munich, broadcasting daily news reports and stories of cultural interest from a wide range of nonpolitical sources.

Suda joined the Pitt sociology faculty in 1968. He was the author of several works on a range of topics, including the political economy of the Soviet bloc, and received several study grants to return to Europe. After his retirement in 1985, he continued his scholarly research into comparative politics and history, primarily focused on eastern Europe in the post-World War II era.

Thomas J. Fararo, now a professor emeritus in sociology who was chair of the department when Suda retired, remembers him “as one of the most pleasant colleagues I had the privilege of associating with in the conduct of departmental affairs. Well liked by both faculty members and students, Zdenek continued his scholarly work long after his retirement.”

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Maria Petronella Suda; children Sybilla, Maryska and Zdenek Jr.; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

—Marty Levine      

Filed under: Feature,Volume 48 Issue 6

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