Elmer Antonsen, 78, of Champaign died Monday (Aug. 25, 2008) at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.
Professor Antonsen was born Nov. 17, 1929, in Glens Falls, New York, a son of Haakon and Astrid Antonsen. He was married to and is survived by his wife Hannelore
(Adam) Antonsen. They were married in Kassel, Germany, on Mar. 24, 1956.
He is also survived by his two children and their families, Ingrid C. Antonsen (MD) and her husband William S. Peterson (Ph.D) of Champaign and their daughter Abigail
Peterson; Christopher Antonsen (Ph.D.) his wife Robin, and their two sons, Tristan and Tobias, all of Bowling Green, Ky.
He is also survived by three sisters, Thelma Edgerly of Fort Edward, N.Y., Stella Couglar of Hudson Falls, N. Y., and Ruth Dumas of South Glens Falls, N.Y.
He was preceded in death by his grandson, Benjamin Peterson of Champaign (2006).
Elmer Antonsen was Professor Emeritus of Germanic Languages and of Linguistics at the University of Illinois where he served sequentially as head of two departments, the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures and the Department of Linguistics. During his long academic career, he authored and edited numerous scholarly books and articles. He was one of North America's leading authorities on runic inscriptions and actively participated in numerous academic and honors societies concerning his field, near and far, including Det Kongelige Norske Videnskabers
Selskab (the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters, Trondheim, Norway)
and Heimskringla (Home Circle), a University of Illinois social organization for celebrating and sharing knowledge about Scandinavian heritage.
Professor Antonsen earned his B.A. at Union College (Schenectady, N.Y.) and his M.A. and Ph.D at the University of Illinois, and he received a Fulbright Scholarship for
studies at the University of Vienna. He taught at Northwestern University, the University of Iowa, the University of Illinois, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Göttingen in Germany.
He was a gifted speaker of languages and spoke English, German, French, Russian, Danish, and Norwegian. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1953 and ranked first in his
class of 65 in Russian training at the Army Language School in Monterey and thereafter
served in Army Intelligence in Germany until his honorable discharge in 1961.
A private gathering will be held in his honor at a date and place to be determined.
Donations in his name may be made to the Arthritis Foundation.