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In Memoriam: Ludwig “Larry” Lauerhass (1935–2019)

A triple alumnus of UCLA, Larry helped build the university's impressive Latin American collection, contributed greatly to Latin American and Brazilian Studies and was a generous donor to UCLA.

  • Larry Lauerhass in 2018. Photo: Alyssa Bierce/ UCLA.

  • May 23, 2019. Larry Lauerhass speaks at the ceremony where he received the Brazilian Order of Rio Branco.

The Center for Brazilian Studies is organizing a tribute page for Larry Lauerhass. If you would like to write a tribute to Larry or share some memories of him, please send your text to: Feel free to include pictures.

UCLA International Institute, January 13, 2020 — It is with a profound sense of sadness that the Center for Brazilian Studies, the Latin American Institute and the International Institute note the passing of Ludwig "Larry" Lauerhass, Jr. — UCLA alumnus, friend and recent donor to the department of Spanish and Portuguese and avid bibliographer. Larry passed away December 29, 2019 at his home in the company of his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.

"I am extremely grateful for Larry’s six decades of contribution to UCLA, to international studies and to Latin American and Brazilian studies," said Cindy Fan, vice provost for international studies and global engagement at UCLA. "His legacy continues to benefit many, and will forever be an inspiring UCLA story to tell."

Born in 1935 in Asheville, North Carolina, Larry completed a B.A. in political science in 1957 at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He soon arrived at UCLA, where he completed an M.A. in Latin American Studies (1959), a Ph.D. in history (1972) and a master’s in library science (M.L.S., 1976).

In 1968, Larry joined the staff of the UCLA Research Library (later renamed the Charles E. Young Research Library) as Latin American bibliographer. In nearly 30 trips to Latin America over 24 years as a UCLA bibliographer, Larry was directly responsible for the acquisition of well over 200,000 items related to Latin America — approximately 40,000 of which were printed in or focused on Brazil. His work was instrumental in creating one of the top U.S. university library holdings in the field at UCLA.

May 23, 2019. Larry Lauerhass (second from left) receiving the Brazilian Order of Rio Branco from Consul
General of Brazil to Los Angeles, Ambassador Márcia Loureiro (to his right) at  the UCLA Faculty Center.

Between 1973 and 2000, he remained active as teaching faculty in the department of history and the UCLA program in Washington, D.C. Over the years, including after his formal retirement in 1994, he taught a number of courses on modern Brazilian history, Latin American nationalism, American monuments, and the memory and iconography of Hiroshima and the atomic bomb. In addition, he coordinated the UC Education Abroad Program in Brazil in 1995.

A longtime member of the predecessor organization of the UCLA International Institute, International Studies and Overseas Programs (ISOP), Larry led the Latin American Center (1978–1984), as an assistant, associate, acting and finally, director, while continuing to work at Young Research Library and teach in the Latin American Studies program and the UCLA Library Science Program. He also created and initially chaired the Program on Brazil (1989–1994) at ISOP.

Larry Lauerhass and José Luiz Passos.  Larry was instrumental in recruiting Brazilian literature and film specialist Randal Johnson to the department of Spanish and Portuguese as a faculty member, and José Luiz Passos as a graduate student. Johnson went to on lead both the department and the newly designated Latin American Institute, during which the Program on Brazil became the Center for Brazilian Studies (2007). Passos went on to become director of that center, a professor of Brazilian film and literature at UCLA and a well-known literary scholar and novelist in Brazil.

Larry is the author or editor of many essays and bibliographies on Latin American historiography, politics and education. In 1986, he published his most important monograph, focusing on President Getúlio Vargas and Brazilian political nationalism in the 1930s: “Getúlio Vargas e o triunfo do nacionalismo brasileiro, Belo Horizonte” (Italiana, 1986). He also wrote eloquently on sociologist Gilberto Freyre, the Shaw Memorial and Brasiliana bibliography. In addition, together with Professor Carmen Nava of California State University San Marco, he edited an anthology on Brazilian national identity published in both Brazil (2007) and the U.S. (“Brazil in the Making,” Rowan & Littlefield 2006).

The government of Brazil recognized Larry Lauerhass as a true friend of Brazil during his lifetime, honoring him with both the National Order of the Southern Cross and the Order of Rio Branco.

Larry was a remarkably kind and generous man. In addition to a substantial UCLA Library endowment for special collections targeting 19th-century visual cultures of Brazil, his gifts to the university have allowed for the creation of a graduate fellowship and, for a time, a comparative U.S.-Brazil lecture series, in the department of history.

His last donation to UCLA was made in 2018 as part of the UCLA Centennial Campaign: a $500,000 gift that, after a UCLA Chancellor’s matching grant, created the Lauerhass Fellowship Fund in Spanish and Portuguese to support Ph.D. students with active research projects focusing on Brazil. (See UCLA College Magazine, Winter 2018.)

The grandson of German immigrants and the son of an aspiring philologist and a famous silent movie actress, Larry led a long, interesting and productive life, always strongly committed to other cultures. He was a joyful person with a large and kind heart.

It was profoundly inspiring to hear him speak on such topics as his early years in the Los Angeles and Pasadena public school systems in the 1940s; his love for UCLA, starting from the moment he first stepped foot on campus in 1957; and his initial 1963 trip to Brazil by boat as one of the first U.S. recipients of a Fulbright Fellowship, in the company of his late son and his wife, UCLA Ph.D. alumna Frances Lauerhass.

Throughout his UCLA career, Larry devised many creative ways to improve the university’s human and material resources related to Latin America, Japan and beyond. His dedication and generosity have touched many lives and will continue to support new, active engagement with diverse Latin American cultures on campus.

In the coming months, the university will commemorate Larry Lauerhass at both a campus memorial and a regular flag lowering ceremony in honor of university faculty and staff, held at the flagpole behind Pauley Pavilion. The Latin American Institute will send out an announcement to its mailing list with the relevant dates as they become available.

Photos provided by Professor José Luiz Passos and UCLA International Institute. 

This article was published on January 13, 2020, and updated on January 28.

See the UCLA Newsroom article on Larry Lauerhaus.