University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Remembering Louis Palanca

Louis Palanca

Louis Palanca

Louis Palanca, professor emeritus of languages, died in his sleep at home March 2 in Italy.  He was 90.

He was born in Pittsburgh to Arduino and Elvira Palanca on Dec. 13, 1921.  He spent three years as a boy in Marseilles, France, and lived in Italy from 1930 to 1949.  He graduated from Luigi Mercantini in Venice in 1939.  He earned his master’s degree from the University of Ca’ Foscari in 1943, and a second master’s from the University of North Carolina in 1960.  In 1970, he graduated from Catholic University of America with a Ph.D.

Palanca served in the U.S. Army as a machine gunner for three years until 1952, and received five Bronze Stars.  He enlisted for four more years in Intelligence and was stationed in Europe.

He taught four years in Italy, and came to UND in 1960, where he taught Latin, mythology and Italian.  He married Josephine Piermanni in 1972.

Palanca developed his own method of teaching Latin because he believed that language drills were killing the language, and wrote “Latin by the Natural Way.”  He emphasized the cultural value and literary artistry of the language, and led study groups abroad for 28 years, starting in 1973.

In a story about him in the March 1980 edition of Alumni Review, a student said, “Louis Palanca aids the student to learn himself.  He does not just stand in front of the room and ramble on, not caring about the individual student.  He is stimulating to even the tired mind.  Every class I learn things that will stay.”  Palanca received the UND Edgar Dale Outstanding Teacher Award that year.

He retired in 1992.

He enjoyed UND athletics, opera, and art.

He is remembered by the Languages faculty who knew him for his kindness, enthusiasm, and collegiality.

Palanca is survived by his wife Giuseppina (Josephine) and daughters Patrizia and Arduina.