Raymond F. Kierstead Jr.

August 31, 1934 - September 13, 2023

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Raymond Foster Kierstead, Jr

August 31, 1934 – September 13, 2023


Raymond Foster Kierstead, Jr. passed away on September 13, 2023 in Portland, Oregon, with his devoted family by his side. Born in Portland, Maine on August 31, 1934 to Clara (Stevens) Kierstead and Raymond Foster Kierstead, Ray grew up in South Portland as an only child but was surrounded by a large, closely knit community of cousins, aunts and uncles. He attended Bowdoin College on a Maine State Scholarship, graduating summa cum laude in 1956. After a Fulbright year in Paris, Ray returned to the United States and enrolled in Northwestern University as a graduate student specializing in French history. It was in the history seminar for first year graduate students that Ray met Marilyn, his wife of 65 years. He received his master’s degree and doctorate from Northwestern.

Ray taught French History at Yale University, The University of Texas at Austin, Catholic University of America and finally, in 1978, at Reed College where, in 1993, he was named the Richard F. Scholtz Professor of History in recognition of his intellectual leadership. Ray retired from Reed in 2000.

Despite his travels and long academic career, Ray remained a gracious, unpretentious man with deeply embedded Maine roots and the accent to go with it. The author of scholarly books and articles as well as more general writings and reviews, Ray’s greatest pleasure was as a teacher. In 2002, the Bowdoin College Alumni Association presented him with the Distinguished Educator Award. As former Reed president, Steven Koblick wrote, “For those of us who are dedicated to the life of the mind and to first-class undergraduate education, Ray Kierstead stands as a beacon of wisdom and thoughtful teaching.”

In 2016, Ray moved to the senior community of Holladay Park Plaza in Portland, Oregon where he enjoyed meeting new friends and engaged in a number of activities. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn (Korobkin) Kierstead; son, Evan, daughter in law, Mary Beth (Fenner) Kierstead  and grandson, Finian of Portland, Oregon; daughter in law, Jan (Rayl) Kierstead, grandson, Eli, of Plymouth, Massachusetts and granddaughter, Isabel, of Washington, D.C. Ray was pre-deceased by his beloved son, Andrew.