Willis Konick, a retired University of Washington professor beloved for his exciting style of teaching, died Nov. 30.

Share story

Willis Konick, a University of Washington professor whose theatrical style of teaching made him one of the university’s most beloved professors, died Nov. 30 of heart failure. He was 86.

Professor Konick retired in 2007, at the age of 77  — 60 years after starting his undergraduate degree at the UW. In a profile story on his retirement, The Seattle Times described his lectures as “part burlesque, part improv, totally unforgettable and always enlightening.”

He taught comparative literature, Russian language and film courses, and in 1977 he was named the UW’s most distinguished teacher. In 1958, he was one of the initial U.S. graduate students to study in the Soviet Union — one of the first American students allowed into the country during a thaw in the Cold War. In 1969-1970, he was a Fulbright Scholar.

Seattle author Tim Egan told The Seattle Times that Professor Konick was a cross between Peter Sellers and Woody Allen.

“Not only is he one of the most popular and original and creative professors in the last 100 years, he’s also literally changed people’s thinking about literature and life,” Egan said. “But first off, he’s terribly entertaining.”

Read the full profile here: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/beloved-professor-retires-after-60-years-at-the-uw/

Professor Konick is survived by his husband, Paul Jezick; daughters Lisa Konick and Lara Konick; and nine grandchildren.

A memorial will be held at 2 p.m. Dec. 11 at Mount Baker Park Presbyterian Church in Seattle.

An earlier version of this story misstated how long Professor Konick had taught at the UW before retiring in 2007.