Jack Martin Balcer (1936-2004)

Nathan Rosenstein, November 2005

Jack Martin Balcer of the Department of History at Ohio State University (OSU) died Sunday, July 11, 2004, at the age of 68 of complications arising from a lengthy illness. His death brings to a close a long and distinguished career as a teacher and scholar.

Jack Balcer received his doctorate from the University of Michigan in 1964 under the direction of Paul Alexander. He taught at Denison and Indiana Universities for several years before coming to Ohio State in 1971. He was a spellbinding lecturer, and generations of students remember "Dr. B's" courses as among the highlights of their time at OSU. He brought a quick and lively mind, a keen wit, and genuine enthusiasm for teaching to all of his classes. He was also one of the first here to employ visual aids in virtually all of his classes. An accomplished photographer, he employed his impressive collection of slides of coins, artifacts, and archaeological sites as "texts" to instruct students on how to interpret the past. The university twice recognized the outstanding quality of his contribution by the awarding of its highest accolades, the Outstanding Teaching Award (1983), and the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award (1984). Balcer retired in December of 2003.

Balcer's research focused principally on the Athenian Empire, Greek numismatics, the cultural interactions between Greeks and non-Greeks in Western Asia Minor, and on the Persian Empire. His studies led to numerous articles and several monographs, among the most important of which are The Athenian Regulations for Chalkis (1978), Sparda by the Bitter Sea (1984), and Herodotus and Bisitun (1987). His scholarly accomplishments have been recognized by grants awarded by, among others, the American Numismatic Society, the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies.

Balcer was deeply committed to the university, and served OSU in a variety of capacities during his career here, but his deepest, most abiding passion was for the library. He served for many years on the library council, and sought in every way he could to make it the crown jewel of the university.

Jack Balcer is survived by his half-sister, Jeanne Carolyn Landis Kelmer, his half-brother, Elgar Ellsworth Landis, and many nieces and nephews.

—Nathan Rosenstein, Ohio State University