Dennis Edwin Showalter

February 12, 1942December 30, 2019
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Dennis Showalter, prominent military historian, died Dec. 30, 2019, from the effects of esophageal cancer. He was 77 years old.

Showalter was born Feb. 12, 1942, in Delano, Minnesota, to Edwin Showalter and Ann Frances Jaunich. His first public appearance saw him become the Minnesota state spelling champion in 1954. Already entranced by lead soldiers and their orders of battle, the trip to the spelling nationals in Washington, D.C., inspired a love of history that would guide him through life.

After graduating from Delano schools, he earned a bachelor of arts degree in history at St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, in 1963. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota in 1969 with the help of Woodrow Wilson, Danforth and Fulbright fellowships.

He began his teaching career that year at Colorado College and embarked on a journey that took him to the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, The U.S. Air Force Academy, The U.S. Military Academy, Marine Corps University, Norwich University and teaching and research institutions all over the world. In 1993, he and Sir Huw Strachan of Oxford University and the University of St. Andrews (Scotland) were founding co-editors of the journal War in History. He was a past president of the Society for Military History and a fellow of the Alexander Humboldt Stiftung. In 2018, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library honored him with the top international award in his field, the Pritzker Prize for lifetime achievement in military history writing. He is a professor emeritus of Colorado College and received numerous awards from the college and its students.

His first love was his students. The desire to take them as far as he could in developing thinking and life skills that would lead to their success gave his life meaning and he valued each of them as a special person.

Showalter is survived by Clara Anne McKenna, to whom he was married for 54 years, daughter Clara Kathleen Showalter of Austin, Texas, and son John Edwin Showalter of Colorado Springs; cousin Barbara Magnuson of Minnetonka, Minnesota, his special family of Shelia Armond as well as her grandchildren James and Isadora, and the countless students whom he encouraged to excel with integrity.

Services are scheduled for Jan. 28, 2020, at 2 p.m. at Swan-Law Funeral Home, 501 N. Cascade Ave., Rev. Bruce Coriell presiding.

Memorials may be made to: The Pritzker Military Museum and Library 104 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 400 Chicago IL 60603 Attne: Megan Walter or Norwich University online 158 Harmon Dr. Northfield VT 05663 Attn: Development Office



  • Memorial Service

    Tuesday, January 28, 2020


  • Reception to follow services


Dennis Edwin Showalter

have a memory or condolence to add?

Richard Aubrey

September 9, 2020

I never met Professor Showalter. I was impressed by a couple of his books and so I approached him by email. I had some questions and some observations.
He responded graciously and generously and was never condescending.
His family, and history, have suffered a great loss.

Bill Erickson

August 22, 2020

Dennis Showalter and I were classmates at St. John's University in Collegeville, MN. In our sophomore year we both lived in St. Mary's Residence Hall. Dennis lived down the hall from me. He made it clear to everyone that his goal was to get A's in every course. I recall that he chose not to carry his wastebasket down the hall to empty it but instead set it on fire in his room so he wouldn't lose study time. When the Benedictine priest who was in charge of our dorm heard about this, he gave Dennis strict orders not to do this ever again, and we all heard about it. Dennis was always a good person and we all liked him. I am proud to have known him and I'm proud of his success.

Russ Rodgers

March 5, 2020

I was so busy with historical work that I just learned of Dr. Showalter's passing. I only had brief contacts with him, but he was always open to discussion and shared his support unselfishly. He was a peer reviewer of one of my works, and for this I'm both grateful and honored. He will be missed.

Bill Kautt

February 2, 2020

Den did so much for me personally and professionally. I can’t thank him enough. Great guy and friend to all. He will be missed.

Bill Kautt

COL James G. Clapp, USA (Ret.)

January 23, 2020

"Hey Denny! Are you still a rabid Yankee fan? Do you still prefer your pizza cold and in the morning for breakfast?" This is the beginning of an email that I intended to send Denny numerous times over the past few years but never got around to it. I would have added: "You know I can ask you these things because I once beat you in a Prof Heininger Modern European History test" (while we were students at St. John's University in the early 1960's. ) I suspect he would have been pleased to have been contacted by an old classmate and friend, but I also know he would have been notably , though good naturedly so, annoyed by a reminder of not finishing first in a history exam. RIP Denny!

Helen Nelling

January 15, 2020

Dennis and I always said we were the siblings we didn’t have. He was like a brother, but he was also a teacher, a mentor, and a dear dear friend. I loved him very much. His passing leaves a great big hole in my heart. I am so grateful for everything he gave to me and for his unwavering confidence in my abilities and intelligence. And finally, I am and will remain so very proud of him.

Richard Hendry

January 13, 2020

Patsy and I only met Dennis once, when we Brits joined a week long tour of the Eastern Theatre Civil War battlefields for which he was the travelling historian. His ability to impart history with insight and great humour is a memory that will remain with us for ever. And in subsequent years, he gave me valuable steer on elements of my MA First World War studies and was good enough to request a copy of my dissertation for his own perusal. Much missed, never forgotten!


January 8, 2020

Professor Showalter was an excellent guide and mentor, and helped me greatly when I set out to write a Master's thesis on the Schleswig War of 1964.

John Broom

January 6, 2020

Dennis was a good friend, mentor, and one of the kindest men I’ve known, he will be sorely missed. I felt so honored to be invited to the Pritzker Award Dinner by Dennis, it was one of the highpoints of my life, I am so glad I got to share that night with his family and friends.