Tai Sung An, 67, professor and Vietnamese political expert

December 21, 1998|By Neal Thompson | Neal Thompson,SUN STAFF

Tai Sung An, a retired professor at Washington College in Chestertown who was an authority on Vietnamese politics, died of lung failure Wednesday at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Mr. An, who was 67 and lived in Chestertown, wrote books on Asian communism and the Vietnam War and his articles appeared in newspapers and world affairs journals.

He retired from teaching in May because of failing health.

"He devoted his entire career to teaching and to advancing the reputation of Washington College through his scholarly work," said college President John S. Toll.

Mr. An was born in Seoul, South Korea. During the Korean War, he was an interpreter for a U.S. government group called the Joint Advisory Commission. He came to the United States in 1954 and served as an interpreter for the State Department from 1958 to 1960.

He earned his bachelor's degree in political science from Indiana University in 1956, and later earned a master's in international relations from Yale University and a doctorate in international relations from the University of Pennsylvania.

He joined the faculty of Washington College -- a small liberal arts school and Maryland's oldest college -- in 1963 as an assistant professor of political science. He helped establish the college's political science and international studies department in 1968 and served as its first chairman.

Nate Smith, a history professor who was a colleague for 35 years, said Mr. An's work on Asian communism and the Vietnam War was known around the world.

"Washington College has lost not only its greatest scholar, but one of the most beloved classroom teachers of the last half-century," Mr. Smith said.

Mr. An returned to Korea in 1969 to marry the former Sihn Ja, an artist who survives him.

A memorial service was held Saturday at the college.

In addition to his wife, Mr. An is survived by two daughters, Jenny An, who graduated from Washington College in 1996, and Grace An, a doctoral student in French literature at Cornell University.

Pub Date: 12/21/98

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