Dr. Sherwood “Woody” S. Cordier, a member of the Department of History from 1956 to 1990, passed away on August 20, 2018. He was 89. Born in Columbus, Ohio, Dr. Cordier grew up in western Pennsylvania. He earned his B.A. in History and Political Science from Juniata College in 1950, his M.A. in International Relations from Yale University in 1951, and his Ph.D. in History from the University of Minnesota in 1963. In 1951-52, he held a Rotary International Fellowship at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.
Dr. Cordier was a prolific scholar of modern military and diplomatic history. Over the course of his career, he published seven books, nineteen articles, and numerous encyclopedia entries focused especially on Scandinavian contributions to western European security efforts in NATO. He won a prestigious NATO Research Fellowship in 1987-88. Earlier in his career, he wrote seven highly regarded articles on German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and his North African campaigns in World War II. He was also a popular and well-respected classroom teacher who won WMU’s Alumni Award for Teaching Excellence in 1977. In 2013, the Department of History’s Alumni Advisory Council honored Dr. Cordier’s excellence in teaching by establishing the Sherwood Cordier Endowment for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching. The endowment supports History graduate student teaching awards.
Woody and his wife, Mary Hurlbut Cordier, who taught in WMU’s College of Education from 1958 to 1990, shared a common passion for music, including romantic and contemporary classical, Scandinavian, Celtic, Latin, and jazz. They were avid supporters of the Fontana Chamber Arts. Both traveled widely in the mountains of the western United States, Alaska, Canada, the Alps, Scotland, and Norway. In addition to Mary, Dr. Cordier is survived by daughter, Ann Cordier, Kalamazoo, and son-in-law Gregory Kroske, Martinsburg, West Virginia, and five grandchildren.