In loving memory of

Jan Vansina
September 14, 1929 - February 8, 2017

Madison - Jan Vansina, age 87, passed away on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at Agrace HospiceCare. He was born on September 14, 1929 to Dirk and Suzanne (Verellen) Vansina in Antwerp, Belgium. He was united in marriage to Claudine Herman in Astrida (Butare) Rwanda in 1954. He devoted himself to the study and teaching of African History and related subjects at the University of Wisconsin - Madison from 1961 until 1994. Jan is survived by his wife, Claudine; his son, Bruno; and several sisters and brothers in Belgium. Jan has requested no public funeral. (Remembering Jan Vansina - UW African Studies Program)

Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road, Madison


Ubong Essien Umoh wrote on May 25, 2017:

"As I learnt at the feet of Okon Edet Uya who learnt under your feet, I constantly felt your cross-currents. I now bear the burden of responsibility of extending your thoughts to another generation of historians in the University of Uyo, Nigeria. Ubong Essien Umoh."

Anita Vansina wrote on Feb 17, 2017:

"My condolences for the family in these hard times. Our thoughts are with you. From Anita Vansina and children, daughter of Nico Vansina."

Hadewijch M. Pettersen wrote on Feb 17, 2017:

"Dear aunt Claudine and Bruno, I hope many will join you and send regards during this hard times. Tomorrow, uncle Jan his 2 brothers and his sisters will come together in the chapel in Antwerp. Lots of love, warm thoughts, niece Hadewijch and Torbjørn and sons, Stavanger, Norway. "

Julien Vermeulen wrote on Feb 16, 2017:

"My sincerest condolences to the Vansina family. "

Joey Power wrote on Feb 16, 2017:

"Fikani bwino abambo. While small in stature, he was a giant on whose shoulders we all stand. Please accept my condolences."

Fred van den Hoek wrote on Feb 15, 2017:

"I would like to offer my condoleances to Jan's family and I am sad to hear he passed away. I worked with Jan on my (yet unpublished) book 'De Memoires van Chicongo' about my great grandfather Alfons Vermeulen. Jan put in a lot of work and was very enthusiastic about the subject. I am very grateful he wanted to give some of his time. Fred van den Hoek"

John Tortorice wrote on Feb 14, 2017:

"Jan's enthusiasm never wained, and his devotion to scholarship and to his family was truly inspiring. it was such a pleasure and honor to converse with him in the hallways of Mosse Humanities-on those rare occasions when he slowed down enough to have a conversation! I recall a lecture he gave on African art that was extraordinary. "

Rebecca Grollemund wrote on Feb 13, 2017:

"Working with Jan during these past two years on Bantu expansion was a rich and enlightening experience! I have learned so much with him. Moreover, despite his own sickness, he was very supportive and nice to me because my father had cancer too. I will always remember his kindness. "

Sheila Leary, U of Wisconsin Press wrote on Feb 13, 2017:

"On behalf of the University of Wisconsin Press, we remember Jan with the deepest affection, respect, and admiration. He published eight superb books with the University of Wisconsin Press and was a trusted adviser to several generations of press directors and editors. He will be greatly missed. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends."

Mike Clover wrote on Feb 13, 2017:

"For all of us, Jan Vansina was the Oracle of Delphi. He knew everything. In addition, Jan gave critical support to the Ancient History Ph.D. of Dr. Mohamed Jerary of Tripoli, Libya. Mohamed wrote his doctoral dissertation on an early medieval Berber tribe which flourished in the hinterlands behind Tripoli. Jan was the most important member of Dr. Jerary's dissertation committee, making connections between some of the tribe's movements and the regular seasonal migrations of tribes living around the edge of the Sahara. Thank you, Jan! Yours ever, Mike Clover. "

Keletso E. Atkins wrote on Feb 13, 2017:

"I have always envisioned Jan attaining the status of centenarian; a vibrant 100+ years old still writing, publishing and attending an occasional conference. Still, the Dutch uncle offering frank comments and criticism to educate, to challenge and to encourage... I had no idea he was so ill. I was stunned and sadden by the news of his departure. I extend my sincere condolences to the immediate family - his wife, Claudine; his son, Bruno; his sisters and brothers in Belgium; to his closest friends; and to those for whom Jan will forever remain a major source of inspiration and insight. I feel deeply fortunate that I got to know and to work closely with the man."

Forbes Munro wrote on Feb 13, 2017:

"Jan was an old friend and mentor who helped set my feet on a scholarly path. He was a lovely man, whose energy and enthusiasm affected everyone around him. He and Claudine were extremely welcoming on our (all too rare) visits to Madison, and Sylvia and I send our sincere condolences to Claudine. Forbes Munro, Stirling, Scotland."

Paul Beckett wrote on Feb 12, 2017:

"In the early 1960s Jan inspired my love of Africa and its cultures. I have never met a more brilliant man, nor such a dynamic intellect and personality. Paul Beckett"

Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney wrote on Feb 12, 2017:

"May your memory of Jan's spectacular scholarly achievement and his devotion to his family be of some comfort to you. Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney"

David Schoenbrun wrote on Feb 12, 2017:

"Jan played a key role in my academic life, too. Supportive and critical, he embodied a unique commitment to making new knowledge. A void has opened that cannot be filled. David Schoenbrun"

Sandra Barnes wrote on Feb 12, 2017:

"Jan played a key role as I embarked on my academic life. His advice was wise and was taken with enormous appreciation. A great tree has fallen. Condolences to his wife, Claudine, and son, Bruno. "

Yolanda Vansina wrote on Feb 11, 2017:

"I would like to offer my condolences to Aunt Claudine and Nephew Bruno. - Yolanda Vansina, daughter of Chris Vansina"