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Arthur G. Wirth, Ph.D., professor emeritus of education in Arts and Sciences, died of cancer Tuesday, June 8, 1999, at a retirement community in Santa Rosa, Calif. He was 79.
Wirth came to the University in 1961 as associate professor of education. He was named a full professor in 1964 and granted emeritus status upon his retirement in 1985. After retiring, he remained active in the department for several years before moving to California in 1997.
"Arthur was a splendid man," said Bryce B. Hudgins, Ph.D., professor emeritus of education. "He was as principled as anyone I've ever known -- which is saying a lot at a place like Washington University. He was also a very striving person. He always used to say he was a B-minus teacher trying to become an A-plus. But his students thought much more of him than that."
Wirth and his wife, Marian, were founders of the St. Louis chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), a support group for parents whose children are gay. He often wrote editorial comments to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on that subject as well as other topics. He and his wife were co-authors of "Beyond Acceptance," a book that features in-depth interviews with St. Louis parents of lesbians and gays.
Wirth was born Aug. 3, 1919, in Columbus, Ohio, and earned bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees from Ohio State University in 1940, 1941 and 1949, respectively. He also was decorated in World War II. Among the survivors, in addition to his wife, are two daughters, Vicki Legion of San Francisco and Patricia Wirth of west St. Louis County; a son, Scott Wirth of San Francisco; a sister, Ellen Brasunas of Clayton; and two grandchildren.
Memorial contributions may be made to PFLAG, 99 West Sherwood Dr., St. Louis, MO 63114; or to Eliot Unitarian Chapel, 216 East Argonne Ave., St. Louis, MO 63122.