National President Emeritus, 1946-1951

Dr. Max Oppenheimer, Jr., Ph.D., Gamma

 

American-born Dr. Max Oppenheimer, Jr. lived as a child with his family in Germany before moving to Paris, at age 13, where he studied French, Latin and the English he had forgotten. He graduated with a Bachelier s Lettres from the University of Paris (Sorbonne) in 1935. He returned to the United States in order to enlist in the Army. He received a B.A. from NYU (1941), M.A. from UCLA (1942) and Ph.D. from USC in 1947. Dr. Oppenheimer was teaching at San Diego State College in 1947 when he noticed a call in the French Review to start a new national honor society for French. He immediately replied to the Review and informed them that one already existed, Pi Delta Phi, with which he was already familiar since he completed his Ph.D. from USC (chapter Beta). Dr. Oppenheimer encouraged the French Review to support Pi Delta Phi, which they did and it was this support, according to Dr. Oppenheimer, that provided Pi Delta Phi much needed national exposure. Dr. Oppenheimer resigned the Presidency in January 1951, while an Assistant Professor of Romance Languages at Washington University, when he was recalled to active military duty during the Korean conflict. He served for seven years during that conflict with the General Staff in the Pentagon. He later served as an intelligence officer for the CIA from 1956-1958. After 1958, Dr. Oppenheimer joined the foreign languages department at the University of Iowa in 1961 where he helped to establish the Department of Russian. In 1967 he joined the faculty at the Fredonia State University as a professor and eventually became the chair of the department of languages before retiring in 1976. During his career, Dr. Oppenheimer translated numerous texts, including a Russian book on hydraulics for the U.S. Office of Naval Research. He is the author of Outline of Russian Grammar (1962). Dr. Oppenheimer also published many scholarly articles in noted language journals. He also completed his autobiography, An Innocent Yank at Home Abroad: Footnotes to History, 1922-1945. (Sunflower Univ. Press, 2000), in which he notes that he joined the Gamma chapter at UCLA while working on an M.A. degree in Spanish and, as a member of the Gamma chapter, met the chapter's secretary, Christine, whom he married in 1942 (p. 133) and who served as National Vice President from 1944-1946. Dr. Oppenheimer passed away on May 23, 2014. He was posthumously awarded the French Legion of Honor award late in 2014 by the French government.