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Creighton Professor Made Perennial Philosophy Accessible to All

Creighton University philosophy professor John W. (Jack) Carlson, Ph.D., died suddenly of a heart attack on Dec. 20, 2012. He was 69.

Carlson was a member of the Creighton University philosophy faculty for almost two decades. He was a philosopher in the tradition of perennial philosophy that runs throughout the history of Western philosophy and finds its most remarkable expression in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. Carlson devoted himself as a teacher and a scholar to making the philosophical tradition he loved accessible to undergraduate students, priests in formation, and reflective believers in the Catholic Christian faith.

Carlson was born in Eureka, Calif., on Sept. 17, 1943. He earned a bachelorís degree in philosophy from St. Maryís College (California) in 1965 and his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1970.

He was devoted to Jesuit and Catholic higher education in the United States. Carlson served as a member of the philosophy faculty at Saint Louis University, as associate dean and subsequently dean of arts & sciences at the University of Scranton, dean and academic vice president of Le Moyne College, and as vice president for Academic Affairs at Creighton University from 1993-1995.

In 1995, Carlson joined the Creighton philosophy faculty full time, serving as department chair from 2005 to 2008. He taught courses in introductory ethics, God, biomedical ethics, the history of medieval philosophy, and metaphysics. He was currently serving on the American Catholic Philosophical Association's executive council and was active in the professional group, Philosophers in Jesuit Education, serving as its president in 2009-10, and on its executive committee through 2012.

In addition to many scholarly articles, Carlson wrote and published several books to serve as resources for philosophy courses, including Understanding Our Being: An Introduction to Speculative Philosophy in the Perennial Tradition (Catholic University of America Press, 2008) and Words of Wisdom: A Philosophical Dictionary for the Perennial Tradition (University of Notre Dame Press, 2012). These books were widely adopted as required reading for philosophy courses in colleges, universities, and seminaries across the United States. He was was in high demand as a lecturer on the contemporary relevance of the perennial tradition of philosophy.

He is survived by his wife Chris, his daughters Rachael Carlson-Lieber of Washington, D.C. and Monica Carlson-Winkley of Vancouver, Wash., and his grandchildren Ellie, Nate, Sidney, and Vivi.

Visitation is Dec. 26, after 5:00 p.m. at the John A. Gentleman 72nd Street Chapel with a wake service at 7:00 p.m. A service is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Johnís Church on the Creighton campus. In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donation made to the Henri Renard, S.J., Lecture Series in care of Creighton University.