Occidental Professor Passes at Age 96


Author: Claire Diggins, Senior Writer

A memorial service for Professor Emeritus Frank Josselyn of the religious studies department will take place this Saturday, Feb. 5.

Dr. Josselyn passed away on Dec. 25,  2010 at the age of 96. He was a professor at Occidental for 25 years and served as chair of the religious studies department.

When Dr. Josselyn first arrived at Occidental in 1955, he served simultaneously as college Chaplain and as a member of the faculty until 1962 when he decided to focus exclusively on teaching. Dr. Josselyn centered his studies on the relationship between ideas and ways of living currently found both in Japan and in the United States. He compared the thought of western religions with the philosophy of Japanese Buddhism.

According to religious studies professor Dale Wright, Dr. Josselyn was the first professor at Occidental to teach about non-Western religions. He was twice awarded Occidental’s prestigious Donald Loftsgordon Memorial Teaching Award, given by students to the professor who has influenced them most.

“For many years he was one of the most popular teachers on the Occidental campus. His best-known and most characteristic trait was an infectious generosity and friendliness toward students. Generations of Occidental alums think of Frank first when they think of Occidental. He will not be forgotten,” Wright said.

Dr. Josselyn received his undergraduate degree from UCLA in 1937 and went on to attend Princeton Theological Seminary. He later earned his Ph.D in Education in 1951 from Columbia University, where he was a student of one of the world’s most famous theologians, Paul Tillich. Tillich persuaded Dr. Josselyn to study the religions of the world in addition to his studies of Christian theology.

Before coming to Occidental in 1955, he served as a pastor in Pennsylvania, Ontario and South Pasadena. He also worked as Assistant Director of Fieldwork and Assistant Professor of Religious Education at USC’s School of Religion from 1951-1955.

 Dr. Josselyn became interested in the relationships between Christian and Buddhist thought and did research on the New Religions of Japan. Upon retiring from Occidental in 1980, Dr. Josselyn moved to Japan and taught at Doshisha University in Kyoto. He returned to the United States in 1990 and lived out the rest of his life with his family in San Diego.

Dr. Josselyn is survived by his children Carol ’71, David, and Thomas ’78, several grandchildren and a great-grandson.

On Feb. 5 at 1:00 p.m., Dr. Josselyn’s family will host a memorial service in honor of his legacy, life and career. The service will take place in Herrick Chapel and is open to all. Following the memorial service, there will be a reception in Booth Music Quad.

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