In Memoriam

Professor Beate Engel-Doyle (1959-2021)

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In Memoriam

Professor Beate Engel-Doyle (1959-2021)

Franciscan University honors a beloved German professor.

Winter 2022 | Tom Sofio

In This Article


Modern languages professor Beate Engel-Doyle died October 19, 2021, after a courageous battle against cancer. She was 61 years old.

She is survived by her husband of 35 years, Franciscan University history professor, Dr. Robert C. Doyle.

Beate was born December 13, 1959, in Fulda, West Germany, an ardently Catholic region just a stone’s throw from Communist-controlled East Germany.

Maybe it was her Cold War upbringing, says her husband, that prompted her to want to learn English and one day come to America. Pursuant to that dream, she received a Rotary scholarship to study in England for a year, which explained her slight English/German accent

While studying at the University of Münster in 1984, she met an American Fulbright scholar teaching there, and with his help, she jumped at the chance to do graduate work at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

She met Bob there over a lunch date. They married in 1986 and moved to Pennsylvania State University where she continued graduate studies. In 1992, Beate saw an ad for a German professor at Franciscan University.

“Teaching was her heart’s desire,” says Bob, and in Franciscan, she found the perfect environment for her intense Catholic faith and profession.

Beate advanced the German language program from a series of lower-level courses to a full-fledged German major, and for many years, she chaired the Department of Modern Languages and Literature.

Her students raved about her “immersion” approach to language.

Miguel Diez, a communication arts major, says, “She made German interactive, performing skits in German. She believed we should speak the language even if we botched it up.”

Cheryl Sorensen ’08, says, “Frau mentored me as a student and after graduation. She encouraged me to get my master’s degree, and now I’m in a doctoral program because she believed in me.”

First diagnosed with colon cancer in fall 2019, Beate continued to teach.The week before she died, she attended a meeting of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, where she received the Santa Chiara Award for Extraordinary Dedication to the University’s Mission.

Her colleague, Dr. Kathleen Spinnenweber, presented the award, and shared, “When I think of Beate, I think of the fruits of the Spirit.”

She then cited Beate’s patience and kindness in her interactions with others, the love she showed her students, her faithfulness to Christ, her gentleness and self-control in difficult situations, and other charisms she exhibited throughout her life—a fitting tribute to a life well lived.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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