Modern Languages and Literatures faculty member Antonio Candau passes away

Antonio CandauAntonio Candau, former chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, died Tuesday, Sept. 17. He was 51.

Candau joined the Case Western Reserve faculty as an associate professor in 2001. A native of Madrid, he specialized in contemporary Spanish literature and culture, earning deep admiration on the campus for the quality of his scholarship and compassionate character.

“I knew Antonio as a friend, a colleague, a gentle but effective leader, a profound scholar, a dedicated teacher. He cared deeply about his students, his colleagues, his family,” said Cyrus C. Taylor, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “I enormously admire his courage, his wisdom and his graceful compassion. We will all miss him very much.”

He is survived by his wife, Cynthia, and his children, Rosalie and Frank, both undergraduates at Case Western Reserve. His family will receive friends from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, at the Johnson-Romito Funeral Home (99 W. Aurora Road in Northfield Center) and from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady Chapel at Gilmour Academy (2045 SOM Center Road, Gates Mills). The Mass of Christian Burial will take place at the Gilmour Chapel at 11 a.m.

Candau earned his “licenciatura”—essentially, a bachelor’s degree—in Spanish philology at the University of Valladolid in Valladolid, Spain. In his early 20s, Candau met his future wife, Cynthia (nee Barbaro), an American college student studying abroad in Spain. Though he grew up learning French and German, he soon began taking English classes and listening to American music to build his vocabulary—and his budding romantic relationship.

Candau came to the U.S. and earned his PhD in Hispanic linguistics and literatures from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1991. He served on the faculties of Smith College and Southwest Texas State University before coming to Cleveland 12 years ago. He became chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures in 2009.

Candau published his first book in 1992, on the contemporary novelist Jose Maria Merino, and another in 2002, which examined literary depictions of Spain’s provincial towns. He wrote numerous essays on 20th-century prose and poetry—all in Spanish. His first piece in English, titled “The City of Niebla: From Urban Setting to Urban Itinerary in Unamuno’s ‘Nivola,” was selected for publication in an upcoming issue of the Bulletin of Spanish Studies.

Outside of his writing and research, Candau was active in the campus community, serving over the years as co-director and steering committee member of the World Literature Program; chair and secretary of the Undergraduate Faculty Executive Committee; a study abroad program director; and creator and adviser of the Spanish teachers’ licensure program.

“Antonio was always attentive, patient, extremely generous with his time, and particularly willing to take on a lot more than his fair share of duties,” noted Gabriela Copertari, associate professor of Spanish and head of the Spanish section of the department. “Always smiling and in a good mood, taking care of our needs and problems, he made the department a better place. We are truly devastated by his loss.”

Candau also was known for his commitment to students, whom he taught in both introductory Spanish language courses and advanced Spanish literature classes.

He taught in the classroom until shortly before his death because he “didn’t want to miss any chance to teach such inspiring students,” said Linda Ehrlich, associate professor of Japanese. “Antonio was a prince, and it’s sad when such a fine person dies so young. But his legacy is one of kindness, enthusiasm and good humor.”

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Hospice of the Western Reserve (17876 St. Clair Ave., Cleveland, OH 44110).