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Myron Ochshorn | 1920-2012

Myron Ochshorn dies; was a USF English professor and led a full life


In his younger years, he was a college basketball star, a soldier and Eleanor Roosevelt's dance partner.

In recent years, he traveled the world, created beautiful paintings for the walls of his South Tampa home and expertly tended to his garden.

In the decades between, Myron Ochshorn was a popular and respected associate professor of English at the University of South Florida.

He died Feb. 29. He had a stroke just two days before and never recovered.

He was 92 when he died, but in good health until the end.

"There were some underlying health issues because of his age, but he was active and happy, and never used a cane or anything," said his wife, Kathleen. "We went out to dinner on the Causeway the night before he had his stroke. He was singing along to a Leon Russell CD on the way home."

His wife was more than 30 years younger than Mr. Ochshorn and had been one of his graduate students in the 1970s. From the time they started dating until the last days of his life, the difference in their ages was a nonissue, she said.

"We never felt the difference because he was always so virile and energetic," said his wife, who teaches writing at the University of Tampa.

Mr. Ochshorn grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps early in World War II. He had hoped to fight the Nazis, but his early assignments kept him far from the action.

He was a guard for President Franklin D. Roosevelt at his home in Hyde Park, N.Y., and had a nodding acquaintance with the president. He knew the first lady a bit better.

"He danced with Eleanor Roosevelt at a Christmas party," his wife said. "She led."

After the war, he attended Brooklyn College, where he was captain of the basketball team. In the summer he played exhibition games in the Catskills, often alongside players who became greats in the early days of the NBA. Bob Cousy was a good friend of Mr. Ochshorn.

He loved sports but he also loved reading and teaching. He earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of New Mexico and began a career in academia.

He taught at several universities before he came to USF in the mid '60s.

"He wanted to come to Florida, and he liked that it was a new school, Kathleen Ochshorn said.

His first wife, Judith Ochshorn, also taught at USF, and was one of the founders of the women's studies program there.

Students knew Mr. Ochshorn for his breadth of knowledge about literature. In addition to more standard fare, he designed and taught courses that covered the classics of Greek literature, the fairy tales of the brothers Grimm, and the songs of Bob Dylan.

"My dad thought that you could find great literature in places other than anthologies," said his son Benjamin. "He loved Bob Dylan and thought Dylan was a true poet."

He had a long retirement, and made the most of it. He and his wife traveled the world — they especially loved Paris — and he indulged his passions for cooking, painting and gardening.

He seemed so youthful that, even at age 92, his death stunned friends and families.

"I can take some comfort in knowing that it's the way he would have wanted to go," Kathleen Ochshorn said. "I wouldn't have wanted him to suffer."

Besides his wife, Mr. Ochshorn is survived by their daughter Brigid Ochshorn, sons Benjamin and Ezra from his first marriage, and a sister.

Marty Clear writes life stories about local residents who have recently passed away. He can be reached at

Myron Ochshorn dies; was a USF English professor and led a full life 03/10/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 10, 2012 3:31am]
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