Former English Department Chair Reta Madsen Passes Away

| February 28, 2011

The University has learned that beloved former English Department chair Reta Madsen died at 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning, Feb. 26, 2011. Her son, John, tells us he hopes to have a memorial service involving Webster people in a few weeks. Further details will be posted at Webster Today as they come available.

Friends and colleagues wishing to make a donation in Reta’s name can contribute to the Reta Madsen Scholarship by going to When giving online, select “other” and type “Reta Madsen Scholarship” into the Other Gift Designation box.

Reta had suffered a stroke late last week. At that time David Carl Wilson, dean, College of Arts & Sciences, shared a sentiment held by many: “I can think of no one who is more loved and respected throughout the Webster community. Her teaching, leadership, and guidance have been second to none. As our English faculty are fond of pointing out, their department is the house that Reta built.”

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  1. Going to Reta’s classes was better than going to the movies. She was a brilliant teacher, full of energy and passion. I will never forget the requirement of doing a scene in her Shakespeare class; it was about half literature and language students, the other half students from the conservatory. Everyone acted or directed; it was memorable, and one of the most inspired teaching tools I have every seen. I got to be Cleopatra. What a rush! I know there are literally hundreds of Webster students who will long remember Reta. She taught us well, wisely and with such an obvious love for her students and the wonderful writing she brought to us.