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Joseph Shalom Ellin

Feb. 9, 2011

Joseph Shalom Ellin, a philosopher and activist who taught at Western Michigan University for more than four decades, died Feb. 4 in Kalamazoo. He was 74.

Ellin taught in WMU's philosophy department from 1962 and continued teaching after his retirement in 2004 as professor emeritus. He served as department chair and took on numerous other leadership roles while at the University.

Ellin was a prodigious reader, commentator and writer. He contributed countless papers to conferences, journals, and books, and authored the book "Morality and the Meaning of Life: An Introduction to Ethical Theory" (1994). He was a supported of the ACLU, a defender of Israel, and a rational thinker on subjects often highly politicized.

He and his wife, Nancy Ellin, spent nine weeks in Hattiesburg, Miss., in 1964 ("Freedom Summer") as civil rights workers. Their letters are represented in a volume, "Letters from Mississippi," and the University of Southern Mississippi houses an archive named in their honor of materials from the time.

Ellin left his life's collection of philosophy books to WMU, where a library will be established in his honor.

A memorial service and internment at Mountain Home Cemetery will be arranged in about a month by Harper Funeral Home in Kalamazoo. Memorial contributions may be made to Temple B'Nai Israel or the Fontana Society of Kalamazoo.

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Media contact: Deanne Puca, (269) 387-8400, deanne.puca@wmich.edu

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