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Theodore Celms

Professor of philosophy 1949-1963; 1967-1975

Theodore Celms
Theodore Celms

(This series of Notable Faculty profiles was written in celebration Augustana's sesquicentennial in 2009.)

Theodore Celms was born June 14, 1893, in Latvia. Celms studied political economy and then philosophy at the University of Moscow. In 1923 he received his doctorate summa cum laude from the University of Freiburg in Germany, where he worked with Edmund Husserl. From 1927 to 1944 Celms taught at the University of Latvia, which awarded him a second doctorate in 1936.

Celms and his family returned to Germany in 1944, fleeing the Soviet invasion of Latvia. Celms taught at the University of Goettingen until 1949, when he and his family were placed in a displaced persons camp. He was brought to Augustana College later that year with assistance from the Lutheran World Federation.

At Augustana Celms taught many philosophy courses, but his favorite course was philosophy of culture. Celms retired from full-time teaching in 1963, but taught part-time from 1967 to 1975.

Celms was the author of almost 90 publications, including five books, on a variety of philosophical issues. He married Vera Vichrovs in 1920; they had three children. Celms died Feb. 14, 1989 in Austin, Texas, where he had moved after his retirement.