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A&M Historian, Professor Dethloff Passes Away

Susan "Sue" Owen '94 January 28, 2019 5:07 PM updated: January 30, 2019 8:41 AM

By Keith Randall, Texas A&M University Division of Marketing & Communications, and Sue Owen '94, The Association of Former Students

Henry Clay Dethloff, a longtime renowned history professor at Texas A&M University who authored and co-authored more than 20 books including the definitive history of Texas A&M, died Jan. 25 following a lengthy illness. He was 84.

Dethloff joined Texas A&M's history faculty in 1969 and served as the department's head 1980-85.

His Centennial History of Texas A&M University, 1876-1976, "was the first fully-researched documentation of the history of the university," said John A. Adams, Jr. '73, who co-wrote Texas Aggies Go To War with Dethloff.

“He captured the importance, impact and contribution of Texas A&M in its first 100 years," Adams said. "He drove home those three things – teaching, research and extension – which are the hallmarks of a land-grant university.”

The Centennial History and several other Dethloff books were published as part of the Centennial Series of The Association of Former Students.

Dethloff graduated in 1952 from Natchitoches High School in Louisiana and went on to graduate from the University of Texas in 1956 and earn his master’s degree in 1960 from Northwestern State University. He received his Ph.D from the University of Missouri in 1964.

He was also a U.S. Navy officer for two years starting in 1956. Before coming to A&M, he was a history professor at the University of Southwestern Louisiana from 1962-69.

Known as a colorful writer, he was praised by many former students as being one of their favorite professors.

Dethloff and the former Myrtle Anne Elliott married on Aug. 27, 1961, and the couple had two sons, Carl Henry Dethloff and Clay Elliott Dethloff.

Among his notable works:

  • A Pictorial History of Texas A&M: A Tradition in Higher Education
  • The United States and The Global Economy
  • Texas Aggies Go to War
  • Our Louisiana Legacy
  • Southwestern Agriculture
  • Sterling C. Evans: Life, Learning and Literature
  • A Special Kind of Doctor: A History of Veterinary Medicine in Texas

“We go back over 45 years," Adams said. "He’s a combination of mentor and best friend."

Adams said Dethloff was an inspiration and mentor to historians as well as students.

“He had a lasting impact on thousands of Aggies.”

A celebration of life service is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at the First United Methodist Church in Bryan, Texas. Arrangements are under the direction of Memorial Funeral Chapel in College Station.

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