Luther Stalnaker

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Dr. Luther W. Stalnaker (Nov. 27, 1892 - July 12, 1954)

Submitted by Syed Safwan Syed Safi, Drake University, Fall 2011

Dr. Luther W. Stalnaker - Copyright held by Drake University


Luther W. Stalnaker was born in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, in 1892. He received his undergraduate degree from Drake in 1920 and his Ph.D. degree from Yale in 1929. He began teaching philosophy at Drake University in 1927 as an Assistant Professor [1]. In 1929, he was named Professor of Philosophy and Head of Department. It was in 1940 that he became Dean of the Drake College of Liberal Arts [2]. He spent most of the period between 1949 and 1951 in Japan as advisor to the United States military occupation headquarters [3].

Dr. Stalnaker is the father of three children. A daughter, Mrs. Richard Hosman, now lives in Japan where her husband, an army major, was stationed. A son, George, is now stationed in this country following extensive service in Europe as a regular army officer. Another son, Howard, is employed by Meredith Publishing Co. in Des Moines. He is in the engineering department and also does most piloting of company planes. He was a courier plane pilot in the navy [1].

Although he turned to administration early in his career, Dean Stalnaker continued his interest in philosophy, regularly teaching one course in this department in addition to carrying the responsibilities of a Dean. In Humanism and Human Dignity, Yale Press, 1945, Dean Stalnaker proposed humanism opposed to absolutism rather than to theism, a “view which indicates the integrity of man.” In diverse ways as man, administrator, and philosopher, this was his constant goal [2].


Dr. Luther W. Stalnaker, 61, dean of the liberal arts college at Drake University, was killed Monday night when struck by an auto as he walked across U.S. Highway 101 on the outskirts of San Rafael, California. The accident occurred about 9 p.m. as Dr. Stalnaker was crossing the highway back to his motel. The driver of the auto which struck and killed Dr. Stalnaker was a San Francisco City College student, George H. Bridgett, 24 [4]. He had gone to California to make an inspection tour of Drake R.O.T.C. students who are in training at Norton Air Force Base, San Bernardino. With him on the inspection tour was Lt. Col. Richard E. Armstrong, professor of air science and tactics at Drake. Besides, he also went to California to meet his daughter, Mrs. Richard Hoffman, who was returning from Japan where her husband is an army officer [4].“News of the tragedy came as a shocking blow to the Drake campus, where Dr. Stalnaker, internationally known as educator and member of learned societies, was beloved by faculty members and students alike”


  • [1] (Biographical Sketch : Luther W. Stalnaker, 1941)
  • [2] (Biographical Data, 1939)
  • [3] (Spiegel, 1949)
  • [4] (Stalnaker, 1954)