Remembering Henry Tomasek
Henry Tomasek, Dean Emeritus of the College for Human Resources Development and Professor Emeritus of Political Science, died Friday, Aug. 12, in Grand Forks at the age of 91.
He was born July 21, 1920, in Berwyn, Ill., to Joseph and Christine (Frycek) Tomasek. He graduated from Morton High School in 1938, and went on to the University of Chicago, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 1942. He was a machine gunner for the U.S. Army, and served in the Seventh Amphibious Division in the Aleutian, Marshall, Leyte, Luzon and Okinawa invasions in the South Pacific during World War II. He was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and five Bronze Battle Stars. After honorable discharge from the infantry in 1945, he returned to the University of Chicago, where he earned his master’s degree in social science in 1946, and his doctorate in political science in 1959.
He married Ann Elizabeth Howell in Grand Forks on Sept. 4, 1948. They had two children, Paul and Susan.
He joined the UND faculty as an instructor of political science in 1946, was promoted to professor in 1961, and served as department chair from 1961 to 1974. He was president of the University Senate in 1962-63 and 1966-67. He was named dean of the College for Human Resources Development in 1974. Well-known for arriving at the office at 5 a.m., he once said that his only regrets about becoming a dean were that he could no longer teach – or be part of his former department’s baseball team.
Tomasek was recognized for his teaching abilities, and received a number of awards, including a Faculty Scholarship Fund Award in 1966 and the Alumni Association’s Edgar Dale Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence in 1973. He was most proud of two outstanding teaching awards which were chosen by students. He believed strongly in service to the University, community, and state, and served on a wide range of agencies that included the Grand Forks Civil Service Commission and the North Dakota Merit System Council. He was president of the Lake Agassiz Boy Scouts of America Council, science advisor to former governors William Guy and Arthur Link, and served on the National Governor’s Council on Science and Technology. He directed the Girls State program at UND for 20 years, and was an exchange professor at NDSU in 1966-67. He also directed the “Know Your State” civics contest for North Dakota high school students.
He was involved in North Dakota politics and active in the NPL-Democratic Party. An expert in North Dakota government, he was drafted to help revise the North Dakota Constitution. In 1978, at then President Clifford’s request, he helped UND articulate its needs to the North Dakota Legislature.
He retired in 1992, and at that time was second only to President Tom Clifford for his years of academic service.
Along with his commitment to UND, family and friends, he was an active leader in the community and his church. He taught classes at the Grand Forks Air Force Base and volunteered at the Grand Forks Mission, Boy Scouts of America, and the United Way. He was a member of the Franklin Club and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. He was also known as “dean” of Central Park dike patrol, assisting over the years in countless flood-fighting efforts. He enjoyed rock hounding, hiking and wildlife at Lake Plantagenet. Reading, music and spending time with his children and grandchildren brought him special joy.
Henry was preceded in death by his parents, brother, Joe, son-in-law, Toby Shotwell and his wife, Ann. He is survived by his son, Paul (Estela) Tomasek, Burbank, Calif., and daughter, Sue Shotwell (special friend, John Moses), Eden Prairie, Minn.; grandchildren Nichole and Andrew Shotwell and Grace and Rachel Tomasek.
A memorial service is set for Friday, Aug. 19, at 11 a.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 319 S. 5th St., Grand Forks. It will be preceded by a memorial reception at the church from 10:30 to 11 a.m. that day.