Steven Preece Sondrup passed away on November 10, 2020. Born on May 27, 1944, to Walter and Louise Sondrup, he was the eldest of three children. A gifted and driven student, Steven attended schools in Salt Lake City before graduating magna cum laude from the University of Utah with an Honors BA in German.
Unbounded intellectual curiosity and formidable focus took Steven to Harvard University where he earned an MA and PhD with an emphasis in modern German and Scandinavian literature.
After graduating from Harvard, Steven returned home to Utah and began teaching at Brigham Young University as a professor of comparative literature. Over the course of his remarkable career he spoke, read, wrote, and taught in nine different languages.
Having demonstrated superiority in both teaching and research, Steven earned BYU’s most prestigious faculty award, the Karl G. Maeser Research and Creative Arts Award in 1982.
A renowned expert in his field, Steven produced numerous publications during a career that spanned over five decades, including books, articles, and reviews on various aspects of nineteenth and twentieth-century literature. His final book, Concepts and Contexts: A Retrospective, is a collection of his favorite publications. It was finalized in October 2020 and is available online.
Steven is particularly remembered for his work in the field of Scandinavian studies. As the editor of the quarterly academic journal Scandinavian Studies, he generously lent his expertise to countless scholars over the course of twenty years. His vision and leadership helped to secure the journal’s place as the premier academic publishing venue for Scandinavian scholarship.
He was similarly committed to building an internationally recognized comparative literature program for both graduate and undergraduate students at BYU. With the help of Steven’s ambitious direction it became one of the most competitive, sought after programs in the United States.
Steven’s profound commitment to his students and his University complemented his unending love of language, literature, and philosophy. His desire to think and write with increasing precision produced insights that benefited his academic associations and commitments. His desire to cultivate community within the academy led to many years of active involvement with the International Comparative Literature Association, including his tenure as president of the organization from 2010 to 2013. He also helped to found the Association for Mormon Letters in 1976, and served as the organization’s executive secretary during its crucial early years.
Steven served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Germany and Italy. He was a faithful member of the Church his entire life and enjoyed serving in numerous callings, though friends believe his favorite may have been as an organist. He loved his ward family deeply, and held a fervent testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Throughout his battle with Parkinson’s disease and cancer, Steven was extremely patient and never complained. He was an example of dedication, faithfulness, inner strength, and dignity.
Steven is survived by his sisters, Susan Dunn (Jon) and Julie Day (Roger) and thirteen nieces and nephews.
We want to thank Olga for her loving care and kindness in caring for Steven. We also want to thank the caregivers from Amada Senior Care, especially Seine, Antoinette, Jaydon, Miriam, and Heppi.
Funeral services will be held virtually Saturday, November 21, 2020 at 11:00 A.M. Guests are invited to attend using this link
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations made to an endowed scholarship fund that he established as a lasting gesture of generosity to BYU. To donate please visit give.byu.edu/Sondrup.