Marion Fishel Deshmukh was an amazing woman – a California girl who moved east, met the love of her life in New York, put down roots in Maryland, taught in Virginia, traveled the world, and enriched the life of everyone she met. Marion was a loving wife to Ashok, mother to Raj, and mother-in-law to Bernadette. She was also a devoted daughter, and a beloved aunt, cousin, and friend.
To say that Marion was a scholar is an understatement. She was a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles and earned her MA and PhD from Columbia University. Marion was a member of the esteemed academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa and was the recipient of numerous prestigious grants including from Fulbright, the German Academic Exchange, the J. Paul Getty Historical Association, and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Dr. Deshmukh began teaching at George Mason University in 1969. For 45 years she was a Professor of German and European history and German and Austrian art history. For 11 years, she also chaired the History and Art History Department. Marion attributed her interest in history and art to her parents who loved to tell her stories of the past. They instilled in her a deep curiosity about people and places in earlier times, which Marion was able to pass along to others through her teaching and writing. Her love of knowledge and learning was an inspiration to colleagues and students alike. In 2013, Marion was recognized as the GMU Faculty Member of the Year, an award that recognizes a distinguished faculty member who exemplifies a commitment to scholarship, teaching, and service.
Marion also was known for her acclaimed biography of German impressionist painter and printmaker Max Liebermann entitled Max Lieberman: Modern Art and Modern Germany, published in 2015, and for co-curating the moving exhibition Postcards from the Trenches: Germans and Americans Visualize the Great War, which was exhibited at the Pepco Edison Gallery in Washington, D.C. and the Printing Museum in Houston, Texas in 2014.
In addition to teaching, Marion enthusiastically took on leadership positions as another way to share and advance knowledge. She served on the board of editors of the German Studies Review, on the academic advisory committee of the Max Liebermann Gesellschaft (Society) in Berlin, chaired the board of the Friends of the Goethe-Institut in Washington, D.C., served as Vice President of the Friends of the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., and was a member of the Advisory Board of the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Institution.
When she wasn’t teaching, writing or curating, Marion enjoyed crafting, gardening, cooking, shopping, spending time with family and friends, and traveling – from the cities of Europe and India to the beaches of southern California and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, Marion felt at home.
Marion passed away on April 13, 2019 peacefully at her home in Bethesda, Maryland, with her family by her side and her beloved Camellias in full bloom in the front garden. She left an indelible mark on her family, friends, and community. She led a life well-lived, full of joy and love and with a spirit of endless generosity. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial gift to the Marion Deshmukh Faculty and Student Scholarship Fund, George Mason University Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations, 703-993-8850.
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