William D. Hohenthal, Jr.

William Dalton Hohenthal, Jr. died in Poulsbo, Washington on September 20, 1998. Born in 1919, the scion of an old Swedish-German military family, Bill spent his youth as an "army brat," moving from post to post with his family across the US and the Philippines. His introduction to anthropology came visiting Philippine indigenous groups and then passing months of leave in China with his father, where they were bombed by the Japanese and escaped Shanghai on a British coastal schooner guarded by armed Sikh because of pirates. When Bill began high school his father was transferred to Rio de Janeiro. He was sent to a local school where he learned fluent Brazilian Portuguese by the "sink or swim" method; this stood him in good stead in later years when he was doing anthropological research in Brazil (1951-52), serving as an instructor in a US Military Mission to that country (1945-47), and finally teaching as a visiting professor (1962-63). There was no science instruction available in Brazil and Bill, before beginning UC Berkeley, had to spend a year at high school in Turlock, catching up. It was when he was at Berkeley he was introduced to Baja California and to California archaeology by fellow student Adan Treganza. While with an archaeological field party at Drake's Bay in Marin, he was called up to serve in Alaska and the Aleutians, in the European Theater and, finally, in Brazil. He returned to Berkeley as a graduate student, writing his dissertation on "The Concept of Cultural Marginality and Native Agriculture in South America." His first year in graduate school he also translated a manuscript by Curt Nimuendajú at the request of Robert Lowie. This was later published as "The Tukuna." Upon receiving the PhD. in 1951, Bill went to Northeastern Brazil where he did salvage ethnography among a number of indigenous groups. He returned to Baja California in 1948 to conduct ethnographic studies of the Tipai, returning in 1949 and 1951. His Tipai monograph will be published posthumously by Ballena Press. Bill joined the faculty at San Francisco State University in 1953. He did no more field work, but published widely in Portuguese and English on topics in Brazilian and California ethnography, archaeology and material culture. Bill served as Department Chair during the infamous SFSU strike of the 1960s, leaving to teach in Brazil and then to take up a short appointment at the University of Alaska. He returned to SFSU in 1970 and remained there for the rest of his career. On retirement Bill moved back to his native Washington to be near his son Hans and to work on his field notes. He had finished the Tipai monograph and was writing a brief autobiography to accompany it when he collapsed and died at his desk. A great teacher, colleague and friend, Bill was one of the last of the great generalists: archaeology, physical anthropology, ethnography, material culture studies, military and intellectual history were all at his fingertips. Bill's death is a tremendous loss to the profession and to his friends.

Contributions in Dr. Hohenthal's memory may be made to the Treganza Anthropology Museum, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, Calif., 94132.

San Francisco State Centennial Celebration

Back to the SFSU Anthropology home page