Professor Emeritus Stephen Crites Dies at 76

Posted 09/17/07
Stephen D. Crites, the Hedding Professor of Moral Science and professor of philosophy, emeritus, died Sept. 13 of prostate cancer. He was 76 years old.

Crites was born in Elida, Ohio and graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University, where he majored in philosophy and concentrated in music. He earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Yale and a Ph.D. in philosophical theology also from Yale University. He was ordained to the Methodist ministry. Prior to joining the Wesleyan faculty, Crites was pastor of Grace Methodist Church in Stonington, Conn. and taught at Yale Divinity School and at Colgate University.

Professor Crites joined the Wesleyan Religion Department faculty in 1961, later moving to the Philosophy Department. He also served as Wesleyan’s chaplain during the 1960s. Crites was a much loved faculty member who taught courses in the Philosophy of Religion and related fields, focusing on19th century European philosophy and religious thought with a special interest in Hegel and Kierkegaard.

“Stephen Crites was an inspiring teacher, a thoughtful, engaged scholar, and a passionate and caring member of the campus community,” says President Michael Roth. “I remember Stephen vividly from my student days, and have met many alumni over the years whose lives were enriched by his devotion to teaching and to finding connections between narrative and experience, between faith and philosophy.”

Crites was a widely published scholar and edited several journals. He translated Kierkegaard’s Crisis Life of an Actress and Other Essays on Drama (Collins, 1967), and was author of In the Twilight of Christendom: Hegel vs. Kierkegaard on Faith and History (AAR Studies in Religion, 1972) and Dialectic and Gospel in the Development of Hegel’s Thinking: From the Early Writings through the Phenomenology of Spirit (Penn. State University Press, 1998). Crites was also a gifted musician and singer who performed a varied repertoire of works from German Lieder to sacred music to light opera.

After 40 years of service, Crites retired from Wesleyan in 2001.

He is survived by his wife, Ann Whall; his daughters, Thea Crites, Stephanie Lombardo and Lilli Crites Flesher; and by his stepchildren Jennifer Whall, Tony Whall, Amy Whall, Katherine Whall and their families. Crites was residing in Lyme, Conn. at the time of his death.

A service will be held at the Memorial Chapel, date to be announced. Chapel Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 1004, Meriden, CT 06450; to Wesleyan University; or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

Messages of condolence may be sent to the family at

By Joe Bruno, vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, professor of chemistry