Scheub, Harold E.

Scheub, Harold E.


MADISON—Harold E. Scheub, Emeritus Professor of African Languages and Literature of the University of Wisconsin Madison, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Harold was born Aug. 26, 1931, the son of Fred and Evelyn (Wentzel) Scheub in Gary, Ind.

Following graduation from Tolleston High School, Harold took a roundabout path towards his distinguished teaching career. After serving as a jet mechanic during the Korean War, the GI Bill funded his degrees in English Literature. Following his love of travel, Harold spent two years teaching in Uganda on the cusp of the nation’s independence. “Africa was never in my future, but I’d always been interested in the culture and its people, so I leapt at the chance,” said Scheub. “I totally fell in love with it.”

When he returned to the United States, his career path changed to African languages and Literature. This path included his return to South Africa, where he spent four years walking up and down the coast recording poetry, tales and myths. Upon his return to the UW-Madison as a professor, the African Storyteller course emerged in the 1970s. Just as Harold chose not to use interpreters and translators in his African travels, he chose to grade and evaluate the students works by hand himself. Former Chancellor, John Wiley stated, “Harold is a legend in the history of this university. Students sometimes waited years to get into his class. They all left with the feeling that they had experienced something extraordinary.”

Harold Scheub joined the UW faculty in 1970 and served three times as chair of the Department of African Languages and Literature. He won numerous teaching, research and service awards and digitized about 2,300 hours of taped oral narratives, poems, histories and epics collected during his research trips among the Xhosa, Zulu, Ndebele, Swati and Sotho peoples in South Africa, Swaziland Lesotho and Zimbabwe. This priceless collection also includes thousands of photographs and hours of film. Teaching for Scheub was not a job, but a calling. Harold established the Harold Scheub Great People Scholarship in 2011 to support UW- Madison students with financial needs.

Harold is survived by his brothers, Gerry (Mary) Scheub of Indiana and Ken (Judy) Scheub of Tennessee. His brother, Fred preceded him in death. He was loved by nieces, nephews, dear friends and thousands of students.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to: The Harold Scheub Great People Scholarship Fund, which is organized through the UW Foundation. A very special thank you to his special friends Kappa Mann and Meg Skinner for their deep kindness and friendship over the years, to Dr. Jennifer Everton for her endless care and compassion, and to the amazing staff at Capitol Lakes Health Center for all the support, care, good humor, and love they have shown Harold over his final years. He always called it “my home.”

Please share your memories at

Cress Funeral & Cremation Service

3610 Speedway Road Madison

(608) 238-3434

Cress Funeral & Cremation Service

3610 Speedway Road Madison

(608) 238-3434

To plant a tree in memory of Harold Scheub as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.

Sign up for our obituaries newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Badger Sports

Breaking News