Long-time Notre Dame Faculty Member Dies At 92
Twice honored Walter Langford served Notre Dame for 42 years as instructor, researcher, coach.
March 2, 2001
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Word has been received of the death of Walter Langford, a member of the University of Notre Dame faculty for 42 years and a longtime coach of the University’s varsity tennis and fencing teams. Langford died Wednesday (Feb. 28) in St. Louis after an illness. He was 92.
A 1930 graduate of Notre Dame, Langford began teaching at the University a year later, specializing in Spanish and Portuguese instruction and Mexican literature. He served as chair of the modern languages department from 1946-59 and was the author of “The Mexican Novel Comes of Age.”
From 1961-63, Langford organized the United States’ first overseas training program for Peace Corps volunteers, serving as director of the new agency’s Chilean program. He also served for a year as director of Notre Dame’s Sophomore Year Abroad Program.
In addition to his teaching and research, Langford coached the varsity tennis team at Notre Dame from 1940-53, compiling a record of 95-30 and earning a three-way share of the 1944 NCAA championship. He also coached the Irish fencing team from 1940-43 and again from 1951-61, with a record of 155-35.
Langford was honored twice for his multiple contributions to Notre Dame, in 1959 with the Lay Faculty Award for distinguished service and upon his retirement in 1973 with a Presidential Citation from the University’s then president, Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C.
Langford earned a master of modern languages degree from the National University of Mexico in 1937. He served as president of the Catholic Association of Foreign Language Teachers in 1957-58 and was active in the Modern Language Association, the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, and the Central States Modern Languages Teachers Association.
Langford’s wife of 44 years, Alice, died in 1975. He later married Mary Goebel, who survives, along with four children. His son Jim is director emeritus of Notre Dame Press, and his daughter Lois is married to William Berry, professor of electrical engineering at Notre Dame.
Father Hesburgh will celebrate a memorial Mass for Langford at 3:30 p.m. Thursday (March 8) at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus.
Memorial contributions can be sent to the Walter and Alice Langford Scholarship Fund at Notre Dame or to There Are Children Here, a camp for at-risk children directed by Jim Langford and his wife, Jill, at 21550 New Road, Lakeville, IN 46536.