School 14

Richard H. Sewell

April 11, 1931 ~ August 4, 2020 (age 89)


On Tuesday, August 4, 2020 Richard Herbert Sewell, aged 89, passed away peacefully at Agrace hospice.

Richard was born April 11, 1931 in Ann Arbor, MI to Herbert and Anna (Broene) Sewell. Like them, he attended the University of Michigan and in 1953 graduated with an honors degree in history. In 1964, he was awarded a PhD from Harvard University.

In between his pursuit of history, Richard in 1954 was accepted into the United States naval officer candidate school and spent more than two years on a Pacific tour aboard the USS Bennington, working as a photo intelligence and assistant air intelligence officer.

After graduating from Harvard, Richard taught for three years at Northern Illinois University and in 1965 accepted a faculty position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he remained until his retirement in 1995. In addition to mentoring many graduate students who went on to prestigious university positions, Richard taught undergraduate lecture courses on the Age of Jefferson and Jackson, and the American Civil War Era. In 1989, the University of Wisconsin presented him with a distinguished teacher award. His scholarly works included three books, one of which, Ballots for Freedom: Antislavery Politics in the United States, 1837-1860, is regarded still as the “gold standard” by scholars in this field of study. 

In 1971, Richard married the love of his life, Natalie Paperno.  Richard was a devoted husband and a wonderful father and grandfather, upon whose lap lucky grandchildren were read countless books and told many stories.  Richard also was a runner and an avid baseball fan.

Richard leaves behind a loving family; his brother Steven Sewell of Arlington, Virginia, children Rebecca (Matt Dudley) Sewell of Madison, Wisconsin, Devorah (Yossi) Schwartz, of Chicago, Illinois, and A.J. (Sarah) Love, of Madison, Wisconsin, and twelve grandchildren, James Peranteau, Rochel Schwartz, Ben Sewell, Esther Schwartz, Leah Schwartz, Elijah Love, Aryeh Schwartz, Mendel Schwartz, Mushky Schwartz, Bracha Schwartz, Avremel Schwartz, and Levi Schwartz. He is proceeded in death by his wife of 47 years, Natalie Sewell, and his brother Robert Sewell.

A private graveside ceremony will be held for immediate family.  A memorial service is being planned for 2021.   In lieu of flowers, the family wishes for donations to be made to Agrace HospiceCare.

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5395 East Cheryl Parkway, Fitchburg WI 53711
Tel: 1-608-276-4660

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