June 29, 1934 - December 31, 2020
Marvin R. Zahniser, age 86, died in Columbus on December 31, 2020. The child of a Free Methodist ministerial family, he was born in New Kensington, PA, to the late Rev. Dr. Clarence H. and F. Elizabeth (Weir) Zahniser, and spent his early years in the Pittsburgh area. He was educated at Greenville College (BA), the University of Michigan (MA), and the University of California, Santa Barbara (Ph.D. 1963), one of the first students to receive a doctorate from that university. After teaching a year each at the University of Washington and the University of Iowa, he came to The Ohio State University in 1965, where he taught the history of U.S. foreign relations for twenty-seven years. During these years he acted briefly as Assistant Vice Provost for the College of Arts and Sciences, served eight years as History Department chair, and concluded his final years at Ohio State as Associate Dean for faculty affairs in the College of Humanities. He took great pride in the many doctoral students he directed and delighted as well in teaching undergraduates. He was devoted to the University and to his colleagues, whom he admired and found immensely interesting. After taking early retirement in 1992, Marvin moved south to continue his teaching career at Dillard University in New Orleans, a historic black university; after four years he returned to teach part-time for seven years at the Pontifical College Josephinum (PCJ) in Columbus. During his career he wrote three books, many articles, and edited a fourth book; most of his writing dealt with U.S.—French relations. Marvin was a member of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR), and the Conference on Faith and History, a society of evangelical historians which he helped to found. In addition, he spent time as trustee for Spring Arbor University and later for Northern Baptist Seminary. He also served on the PCJ Board’s Education Committee and on the Historical Archives Committee of the Free Methodist Church. His private life was a very happy one. His beloved and able wife of 64 years, Adrienne Allen Zahniser, was first his college classmate, then his best friend, his skilled manuscript editor and critic, his chief comfort, and the mother of their three exemplary sons, Mark Howard, MD, (Francine) of Cleveland, Keith Allen, Ph.D., of Alexandria, VA, and Craig Alexander, RN, (Amy) of Columbus. Their daughters-in-law and their lively, talented grandchildren, Joshua, Nathaniel, Sarah, David, Leah, Stephanie, Justin, Luke, Hannah, and Tom have been sources of great pleasure and pride to both Zahnisers. Marvin was a member of the Northwest Church of the Nazarene in Columbus, and an associate member of the Greenville, IL, Free Methodist Church. He enjoyed church school teaching and vocal activities. He sang in several male gospel quartets through the years. Although a tenor, he hoped following resurrection to sing low bass in a gospel quartet! The Zahnisers established academic scholarships at Greenville College, Dillard University, The Ohio State University, and, jointly with the Diocese of Columbus, an encouragement fund for students attending PCJ. They are supporters of Hope Africa University in Bujumbura, Burundi, the Salvation Army, Lutheran Social Services, and the Marston Memorial Historical Archives of the Free Methodist Church. Marvin loved classic cars of the 1950s and 1960s. He was also a fan of Ohio State basketball, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Marvin will be interred in Union Cemetery, Columbus. A memorial service was held on Saturday, August 21, 2021, 2PM, with Rev. Dr. Ron Emptage presiding at Northwest Nazarene Church. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be directed to any of the groups mentioned above.
Marvin R. Zahniser, age 86, died in Columbus on December 31, 2020. The child of a Free Methodist ministerial family, he was born in New Kensington, PA, to the late Rev. Dr. Clarence H. and F. Elizabeth (Weir) Zahniser, and spent his early years... View Obituary & Service Information
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