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Service for Professor Alberto Casas Thursday, Oct. 1

September 30, 2009    

Alberto Casas, who taught Spanish literature and philosophy at UNH for 35 years and was an initiator of the humanities department, died Sept. 27. A Mass of Christian burial will be held at St. Thomas More Church in Durham at 10 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 1. Internment in the Durham Cemetery will follow.
“Alberto was a faculty member here at UNH and retired in 1987. A Barcelona refugee from the Spanish Civil war and a combat veteran of WWII in North Africa, Alberto was a stately and elegant colleague who mentored many here at UNH over his 35 years on the faculty. Most around campus also knew that Alberto was a nationally ranked tennis player. He will be sorely missed,” Ted Kirkpatrick, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts:.

The 90-year-old Durham resident died Sunday at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital after a brief illness.

Born in Humacao, Puerto Rico, on March 23, 1919, Alberto was raised and educated in Barcelona, Spain, receiving his bachelor degree in 1936 from the University of Barcelona. Alberto saw combat with the Republican Army during the Spanish Civil War, and had to flee on foot over the Pyrenees to France when Barcelona was overrun by the fascists in 1939. He then came to the United States, where he pursued graduate studies at Columbia University.

While living at the International House in New York he met his wife, Constance Berry Casas, whom he married in 1942. His graduate studies at Columbia University were interrupted by four years of service as a cartographer in World War II for the U.S. Army. He served in the North African campaign and at war's end he was in Hawaii, where he was preparing maps for the invasion of Japan.

Upon returning he completed an M.A. and Ph.D at Columbia University. He taught at Dartmouth College for several years and in 1952 came to UNH, where he remained until his retirement in 1987. He taught classes in Spanish literature and philosophy and was an initiator of the Humanities Department at UNH, where he taught classes in the culture of the classical world.

Alberto was fluent in several modern languages, including modern Greek which he learned on his many trips to explore the ancient world. His interests were wide-ranging and in addition to travel, he enjoyed many other activities, painting, dancing and especially tennis, which he played competitively into his 80s, achieving national rankings at times.

In recent years Alberto divided his time between New Hampshire and Puerto Rico, where he enjoyed the company of his two beloved families.

Alberto was predeceased by his wife, Constance Berry Casas, who died in 1993.

He is survived by his wife of 12 years, Aileen Roig Ferre; a brother, Julio Casas of Camden, Maine, and by his son, Norman Berry Casas and wife, Elizabeth Hughes Casas of Washington, Maine, and by nine grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his stepchildren, Rosalyn, Jose and MaryLee Targa Roig of Palmas del Mar, Puerto Rico and their eight children.

Arrangements are by Wiggin-Purdy-McCooey-Dion Funeral Home, 655 Central Ave., Dover.

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