Remembering the life of Dr. Frederick Henry Brengelman

Dr. Frederick Henry Brengelman

By Paula Landis in memory of her father


Dr. Frederick Henry Brengelman died in Fresno, California on September 24, 2019, at the age of 91. 

Fred was born in Farwell, Nebraska on March 31,1928 to Harry and Rose Brengelman. He received his bachelor’s degree at Dana College, his masters at the University of Nebraska, and his doctorate at the University of Washington. In 1968 Fred founded the Linguistics Department at California State University, Fresno. Linguistics was his passion, but prior to founding the Linguistics Department, he also taught in the English Department. History of the English Language was always his favorite course to teach along with English as a Second Language. Fred enjoyed travel. He was a Fulbright scholar in Greece, studied at the British Museum while on sabbatical in England, and was a visiting professor in the Netherlands, Wisconsin, Texas and West Virginia. Until recently, he continued to teach classes at Fresno State as a linguistics professor emeritus. In 2008 he was acknowledged for having taught at Fresno State for 50 years. He authored the book English Language: An Introduction to Teachers, and numerous papers. He also co-authored, with Russ Leavenworth, a cookbook of his favorite desserts, Puddings from A to Z.

In addition to the study and teaching of English and Linguistics, Fred turned his keen mind to an eclectic range of topics: the writings of Mark Twain, history of the Bible, cooking healthful soups, baking homemade bread, and raising fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants. With the help of his family, he expanded the family house from a modest concrete enclosure to a welcoming ranch-style home. And his avid interest in and talent for gardening turned a desert-like patch into a wooded oasis. He enjoyed walks with his devoted dog Tom, reading for hours with a cat on his lap, and he often joked about perusing the obituaries and not yet seeing his name there.

Dr. Frederick Henry Brengelman
Dr. Frederick Henry Brengelman with his dog Tom

As those who were fortunate enough to study under or converse with Fred on any number of topics can attest, he demonstrated an impressive command of language, as well as a sharp sense of irony and humor. But he is best remembered by students, colleagues and friends as being a genuinely nice man.  He was born to be a teacher and never missed an opportunity to enlighten others on any number of topics, especially politics and religion. He always looked forward to a good conversation over coffee and pastries with friends. A colleague noted that he was a gifted teacher with vast knowledge and a kind and helpful colleague who will be greatly missed. 

He is survived by his former wife Mary Dey, sons John and Erik Brengelman, daughters Paula Landis and Ann Gray, as well as grandchildren Sean, Alicia and Abby, greatgrandchildren Elijah, Nitro, and Riley and sister Irene Klanecky

A memorial will be held Sunday, November 24, from 2-4 pm at the Woodward Lake Clubhouse 10250 N. Westshore Drive, Fresno. Donations in his memory can be made to the Fred Brengelman Scholarship for Linguistics at Fresno State. Checks should be payable to the Fresno State Foundation (noting Fred Brengelman in the memo) and mailed to:

College of Arts and Humanities
Development Office 
2380 E. Keats Ave. M/S MB99
Fresno, CA 93740-8024

Or call 559.278.8341

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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