It was announced by Washington College last Friday that the acclaimed scholar and local philanthropist Ben Kohl passed away early Thursday morning. A private service will be held in Middletown, DE with plans for a memorial service at a later date.
A native of Delaware, Benjamin G. Kohl was educated at Bowdoin College (A.B. with Honors in History, 1960), the University of Delaware (M.A. 1962), and Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D. History, 1968). From 1966 until his retirement in 1998, he taught medieval and early modern history at Vassar College, where he served as chairman of the department of history for seven years. He authored or edited seven books and CD’s on Italian Renaissance history, published over seventy articles and reviews, and contributed to such reference works as the Dizionario Biografico Degli Italiani, the Oxford Companion to Italian Literature, the Encyclopedia of Censorship, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Over the years, he held fellowships from the Fulbright Commission (Italy), the American Academy in Rome, the Delmas Foundation, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. In 1981 he was honored with election as a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (London), and in 2006 he was one of eighteen scholars in the United States awarded a Mellon Emeritus Fellowship in the Humanities. At the time of his death, his active research project was a book on the governance of late medieval Venice.
In retirement, Kohl served as the president of the Hedgelawn Foundation, Inc. of Lynch, Maryland (a small charitable trust dedicated to the promotion of the humanities, historical preservation, and the visual and performing arts) and as the secretary of the Town of Betterton Planning Commission. In addition, he served on the boards of the American Friends of the Warburg Institute, the Oxford Journal, Renaissance Studies, and as President of the Historical Society of Kent County, Maryland.
He is survived by his wife, Judith Kohl, a Professor of English Emeritus from Dutchess Community College, SUNY, their son, Benjamin and his wife Kimberly Libercci Kohl.