Karl H. Cerny
November 9, 1922 – November 11, 2019
Karl H. Cerny (97) passed away on November 11, 2019 in Arlington, VA. Karl was born in New York, New York on November 9, 1922 to Karl and Martha Cerny. He was a member of the Princeton Class of ’44. For his M.A. and Ph.D, he attended Yale University (1948 and 1955), and acquired a Certificate in European Studies from the University of the Sorbonne in May, 1946. Karl had a fruitful career at Georgetown University from 1950 to 2019. While at Georgetown, some of his academic positions included: Professor Emeritus (1993--); Full Professor (1965-1993); Associate Professor (1957-65); Assistant Professor (1952-57); and Instructor (1950-52). Major teaching and research areas included: German politics and federalism; The European Communities (European Union), and NATO.
Karl was involved in many activities, in various positions, while at Georgetown, such as: President of the Association of Main Campus Retired Faculty (2006-2008); Member of the Executive Committee for the National Security Studies Program (1995-1999); Member of the Executive Committee for the Center for German and European Studies (1990-1999); Director of the West European Studies Certificate (1988-1993); Chairman of the Department of Government (1964-71 and 1977-1983); and Chairman for the Committee on Studies in German Public and International Affairs (1974-83).
Other positions Karl held included: Book Review Editor for the Conference Group on German Politics (1995-1998); Executive Director of Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honorary Society (1991-93); Resident Scholar for the Central Intelligence Agency (1989-90); member of the Research Council for the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (1986-1990); President of Pi Sigma Alpha (1982-86); Adjunct Scholar for the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (1981-86); Research Principal for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (1963-74); Consultant for the Bureau of External Research of the Department of State (1964-69); and Fulbright Lecturer at the University of Nijmegen in The Netherlands (1958-59). He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Sigma Alpha, the American Political Science Association, the German Studies Association, and the European Union Studies Association.
A prolific publisher, Karl served as editor for Scandinavia at the Polls: Recent Political Trends in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute, 1977); and Germany at the Polls: The Bundestag Election of 1976 (Washington, D.C., American Enterprise Institute, 1978). He served as editor and contributor for Germany at the Polls: The Bundestag Elections of the 1980s (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1990); “The Future Role of a United Germany in the European Community,” edited by Gary Geipel; and Germany in a New Era (Indianapolis, Indiana: The Hudson Institute, 1993).
He is survived by his sons Karl, John, Tim, daughter Mary, and grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Constance Lark Cerny. Date and time of services will be determined at a later date.
The family would like to give special thanks to Capital Caring and Paula for their service.
Karl H. Cerny
Nancy Jones Gilbert
April 14, 2021
Dear Cerny Family,
It was a heartfelt zoom session many months ago, but it seems like only recently. I've been thinking of all of you so often, but without your addresses I couldn't contact you personally.
I was a young girl when Connie and Karl, with KC, Jackie and Timmy, moved next door to us in Falls Church. You were such a happy family, and more kids meant more fun.
My sister Laura was not able to attend the zoom session so she would like to locate Connie and Karl in Arlington National Cemetery. Connie and Karl are Laura's Godparents. All of the Joneses remain in Va. except for me, I am in Michigan.
Again, it was such a treat to visit with you. Thanks for including me in your zoom.
Best wishes, Nancy
September 17, 2020
Dr Cerny was my teacher, mentor and Doktorvater and through these roles he helped me establish the foundation for an academic career and then to pursue it. He showed me how to build on my German background (thanks to my Dad’s military career) and to make it my academic speciality. He enabled me to spend a year in Germany on Thyssen/Humboldt funds to gather data for my dissertation. And, his classes were the model for my own throughout my career. Most importantly, though, he taught me the importance of preparation in everything I do. I have never forgotten this lesson and have tried to live by it throughout my life and career.
I extend my deepest condolences to his family. He was a very special individual to many of us and contributed in extraordinary ways to our lives and careers. His was a life well lived—indeed very well lived— and all of us are enormously grateful for that.
August 21, 2020
I fondly remember Professor Cerny. I have so many memories of the Cernys growing up in Arlington in the 1960's and 1970's. Often I would come over to stir up trouble with Jack and Tim, along with Jolly, the Berrys, the Clearys, John Furr and many other suspects too numerous to list. Despite the many times we "inconvenienced" Mom and Pop Cerny, their love for us was never tarnished. Sometimes, I would engage the Professor in a philosophical discussion. Although I presented no challenge to him in our arguments, he took me seriously, and helped me with my logic and presentation. He was one of many people in my life that inspired my love of academics. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
Duffy Ward, M.D.
WILLIAM A. MAXWELL
August 19, 2020
Professor Cerny was my mentor, advisor and teacher from the day I entered Graduate School at Georgetown University until I defended my doctoral dissertation. When I faltered in my pursuit of the PhD, he encouraged me to soldier on. When I faced challenges in getting through various requirements, he found ways to support me. He did all these things in a calm and affirming way. Karl was invested in my success and a model of being present for others. He was among the brightest, most modest persons who have inspired me and populated my life. He is forever in my prayers as are all members of his family.
Ambassador Robert M. "Skipp" Orr
May 6, 2020
Dr. Cerny was my favorite professor at Georgetown by far. It was in 1977 I entered the M.A. program at the Government Department which he chaired. I was fascinated by German politics and what became the EU. As well as Japanese politics...which is what I eventually got my Ph.D. But his training for me on the EU was such a helpful hand when I became the senior Motorola executive dealing with the EU in the early 2000s. I would consult with him still. When President Obama nominated me as Ambassador to the Asian Development Development Bank I invited him to my swearing in ceremony in the Fall of 2010 but his beloved wife was quite ill and could not make it. But we were able to have lunch at the Four Seasons in Georgetown with his wife as well.
I tried to contact him last summer when I was knighted by the Emperor of Japan and the ceremony was held at the Ambassador's residence in Washington but I never received a response so I was worried. Only tonight did I discover this great man passed last November.
My sincere condolences to the whole family. I am so lucky to have met and been a student and eventually a friend of this great man. I am sorry I am late in extending my condolences. My wife Mitsuko and I have lived in Japan for many years and she had the same regard for him that I did...and have.
Skipp & Mitsuko Orr
December 1, 2019
We were all very saddened to learn of the passing of Mr. Cerny.
My siblings and I share many fond childhood memories of Karl & Connie.
Our deepest sympathy,
the children of the late Uel & Mitiz Jones
Nancy, Tom, Sue, & Laura
November 12, 2019
Karl was a great and very generous colleague as well as a terrific editor. Although I was not his student, he was of great help to me especially early in my career. I owe him a lot and will never forget him.
November 12, 2019
Mr. Cerny always had a twinkle in his blue eyes and a hearty, jovial laugh. He & Connie were friends with my parents, and enjoyed memorable 23rd Street patio parties and wonderful dinners with scintillating conversation. They welcomed me into their home when I was in high school as my parents modified our house to be accessible. Mrs. Cerny was a nurse, & she & Mr. Cerny always visited and looked after my mother for many years. A heart of gold and a remarkable scholar to boot, Mr. Cerny was in a class by himself. But what an incredible and long life he led; astonishing as he was. My thoughts & condolences to all Cernys!
November 12, 2019
I had the great privilege of having Karl as my professor and Doctorvater on my dissertation. Not only was he a great teacher he was a mentor who cared for his students. It was Karl who steered me to the study of Germany. I had a preference for France and he told me, Germany will be more important. He was right and his guidance shaped my career. He and Connie were wonderful hosts at dinners in their home and it is of some comfort to know they have now been reunited.
November 11, 2019
Professor Cerny’s class “Modern Foreign Governments” was one of the most memorable courses that I took during my four years in the School of Foreign Service. Much to my delight, years after graduation, I learned that as a retired faculty member, he was teaching mini-courses through the Georgetown University Learning Community. I signed up for as many as possible. It was a pleasure to have that unexpected opportunity to benefit from his thoughtful, knowledgeable, and extremely well organized presentations. I would like to extend my condolences to his family and friends.
November 11, 2019
I studied with Dr. Cerny during my undergraduate and graduate years at Georgetown. He was exceedingly kind and always fair. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from him. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.
November 11, 2019
Karl Cerny shaped my undergraduate and graduate education and was a model to me of expertise, dedication, and compassion. He was a legend at Georgetown and feared by many of his students, but as his teaching assistant I came to understand how kind and fair he was while still upholding his high standards. Known as a German and European scholar, he also taught the freshman US political systems class, where his knowledge of comparative constitutionalism gave his lectures added depth; I will always remember his brilliant discussion of due process. After I completed my Ph.D. I continued to see Karl, and until well past his retirement there was always a question he asked I could not answer and an article I had not yet read. I also came to know what a proud father and grandfather he was, and what a loving relationship he had had with Connie. My prayers go to his family. I am grateful for having known him and in debt to the knowledge he imparted.