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DeCoster, Cyrus Cole, 1914-1999

 Person

Dates

  • Existence: 1914-1999

Born in Leesburg, Virginia in 1914, Cyrus Cole DeCoster spent most of his childhood in St. Paul, Minnesota. DeCoster taught Spanish at Northwestern University for 16 years. He was the author of 11 books and 35 scholarly articles. DeCoster's research focused on 19th century Spanish literature. He died in 1999.

He attended Harvard University from 1933 to 1937, where he majored in French, graduated magna cum laude, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

DeCoster spent a year of study at the Sorbonne in France following graduation. He entered the University of Chicago in 1939 on a University Fellowship and earned a master's degree in French in 1940. The Second World War put DeCoster's academic work on hold. He served in the Navy from 1941 to 1946, working first as a communications officer in Panama before being reassigned to the USS Abercrombie in the Pacific. The Abercrombie saw combat at the Battle of the Philippine Sea and in the invasion of Okinawa.

Returning from the war, DeCoster accepted a position as Instructor of Romance Languages at Carleton College in 1946 while working towards a doctorate in Spanish from the University of Chicago. He received this degree in 1950. Meanwhile, he became Assistant Professor at Carleton in 1948 and Associate Professor in 1956. DeCoster's first book, Correspondencia de Juan Valera, was published at this time.

In 1957, DeCoster moved to the University of Kansas, where he became Professor of Romance Languages. He served as the Chairman of that Department from 1962-1965. DeCoster made his final career move, to Northwestern University, in 1969, where he was Professor of Spanish until his retirement in 1985. From 1973 to 1976 and 1979 to 1983, DeCoster served as the Chairman of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Professor DeCoster was the author of 11 books (several of which were compilations of primary documents) and 35 scholarly articles. His focus was nineteenth century Spanish literature, and he authored works on Juan Valera, Pardo Bazán, and Pedro Antonio de Alcarn. His specialty was Valera. Indeed, so much of DeCoster's published work dealt with this figure that one reviewer called him “the leading American authority on Valera.” His work was well reviewed by peers.

Cyrus DeCoster died of cancer in Evanston on January 29, 1999. His wife, Barbara, who was a student of his at Carleton, survived him. They were married in 1948 and celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary shortly before his death. The couple had a daughter and three sons.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Cyrus C. DeCoster (1914-1999) Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 11/3/26/2
Abstract DeCoster taught Spanish at Northwestern University for 16 years. He was the author of 11 books and 35 scholarly articles. DeCoster's research focused on 19th century Spanish literature. The Cyrus C. DeCoster Papers fill one box and span the years 1948-1999. The material summarizes Professor DeCoster's academic work, and is divided into six subseries: biographical material, published articles, book reviews, reviews of books, “Pardo Bazán” drafts, and Juan Valera research...