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Tuesday, April 30, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Victor Hanzeli, 65, UW Professor

A few weeks ago, as University of Washington Professor Victor Hanzeli and son Victor Jr., an elementary-school teacher, were talking about improving public schools, Mr. Hanzeli gave his son some advice.

In his 35-year teaching career in the University of Washington's Department of Romance Languages and Literature, he told his son, he never gave the same lecture twice. He always tried to present the material from a different perspective.

The younger Hanzeli treasured the lesson.

"We're talking about a man who did absolutely everything he could for his family and his students," said Victor Hanzeli Jr., a third-grade teacher at John Muir Elementary in Kirkland. "He gave up any worldly possessions for his children and encouraged us in our education and whatever endeavors we pursued."

A Mass of Christian Burial was held Saturday for Victor Hanzeli Sr., who died Tuesday (April 23) at the age of 65 after a long illness.

Education was the motivating force in Mr. Hanzeli's life, said his daughter Beatrice Hanzeli.

Last fall, his health failing, Mr. Hanzeli taught a graduate seminar in Romance linguistics to students who came to his living room.

He was born in Hungary in 1925, studied at the University of Vienna and graduated from the University of Budapest. He and his wife, Eva, went to France in 1947 and moved to the U.S. in 1951.

He received his doctorate in French literature and linguistics from Indiana University and joined the UW faculty in 1957.

Mr. Hanzeli spoke five languages, played piano, loved music and was active in community and university affairs. He served five years as chairman of the Department of Romance Languages and Literature, was director of the Washington Foreign Language Program, president of the university's chapter of the American Association of University Professors and the faculty representative to the state Legislature.

He also helped established an educational exchange with France's University of Nantes after Nantes became one of Seattle's sister cities.

"He was a great mind," said Eva Hanzeli, his wife of 44 years. "He was very outgoing, loving, caring, inspiring, optimistic and at the same time a very private, very peace-loving person."

Their daughter Beatrice called her father gracious and gallant and noted that he charmed people with his Old World habits, such as greeting women with a chivalrous kiss to the hand.

Longtime friend and colleague Robert Ellrich, also a UW professor in Romance languages, considers Mr. Hanzeli one of the most energetic and positive-thinking people he has ever met.

So positive that friends in his regular poker game didn't seem to mind when Mr. Hanzeli walked away the winner three out of four times they played.

The family has established a memorial scholarship in Mr. Hanzeli's name and suggests remembrances be made to the scholarship through the University's Department of Romance Languages and Literature.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Hanzeli is survived by five children: Victor Jr., of Marysville; Beatrice, of Seattle; Tina Hodgins, of Olympia; Dennis, of Brier; Gabriel, of Kent; and five grandchildren.

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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