Wednesday, December 8, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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UW History Professor Peter Sugar Dies At 80

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Peter Sugar, an authority on the history of East-Central Europe and a one-time hockey player in his native Hungary, left a lasting impression at the University of Washington.

A former student, Gregory Morgan, wrote in a recent UW Alumni magazine that he still pictures Dr. Sugar "slinking across the Quad in his trench coat and signature beret."

Morgan recalled how Dr. Sugar, addressing huge classes on the history of Western civilization, "pontificated from a small ladder. His unique lecture style and strong personality, combined with his thick Hungarian accent and his powerful command of his subject matter, made him a mesmerizing force in the classroom."

Dr. Sugar taught European and Ottoman history. Members of the Class of 1987 nominated him Instructor of the Year - one who made the greatest impact on their academic careers.

Then-Seattle Mayor Charles Royer named March 9, 1989, "Peter Sugar Day" in honor of Dr. Sugar's retirement.

Dr. Sugar died Sunday (Dec. 5) after suffering a stroke. He was 80.

"He was warm, witty, forceful," said UW history-department Chairman Robert Stacey. "He always had clear views, clearly expressed. He was a storehouse of knowledge, was interested in a lot of things and was a lifelong hockey fan."

Born to a prosperous family in Budapest, Dr. Sugar played on Hungary's national hockey team. He also served in the Hungarian cavalry in the late 1930s.

Before the fall of Hungary to Nazi Germany, he moved to Istanbul, Turkey, where he worked with U.S. Army intelligence during World War II.

Dr. Sugar emigrated to the U.S. in 1946. After a brief business career, he earned a bachelor's degree in history at City College of New York in 1954. He earned a doctorate in history and near-Eastern studies at Princeton University in 1959.

He joined the UW history department as an assistant professor that year and stayed for three decades. Dr. Sugar's numerous books include "History of Hungary," published in 1990.

As Balkan crises grew, he was in increasing demand to speak at local and world conferences.

"The media didn't listen very well to what he had to say," said his son, Steven Sugar of Glendale, Calif. "He did not see the crisis as religious, as was often depicted, but as a historical and cultural conflict."

In 1994 Dr. Sugar earned a lifetime-achievement award from the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies.

Aside from reading and traveling, he liked to attend opera, collect U.S. coins, follow professional baseball and hockey, and dote on his four grandchildren.

Also surviving are his wife of 44 years, Sally Sugar of Seattle, and daughters Klari Hixenbaugh of Edmonds and Karen McAllister of Tigard, Ore.

No services are planned. Donations may go to the History Department, Box 353560, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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