Talcott Parsons (1902-1979)
When Talcott Parsons (13.12.1902-08.05.1979) arrived in Munich on Sunday, May 6th, 1979, he and his wife Helen had spent nearly four hours on the train from Heidelberg. The University of Heidelberg had invited him to celebrate the 50th anniversary of receiving his doctor's degree there in 1929. The celebrations had lasted from May 1st until May 6th and must have been pleasant as well as strenuous for a man of 76 years, but when I met Parsons on the platform of Munich Central Station he seemed vigorous and ready to meet colleagues and students.
Accordingly we spent much of the evening in the basement restaurant of the Palais Mongelas before Talcott and Helen retired to the Munich Hilton Hotel. On Monday, May 7th, 1979 Parsons gave a public lecture in the morning in lecture hall 332 of the venerable main building of Munich University, the building in which Max Weber gave his last lecture prior to his death in Munich in 1920. In the afternoon of that day Parsons held an informal seminar in the building of the department of sociology, Konradstrasse 6, with an extended period of questions and answers.
That evening he was to be the guest of honor at a party, but his wife came without him because he was not feeling well and had stayed in his hotel room. Parsons died during the night from Monday to Tuesday in the early hours of May 8th, 1979.
My personal acquaintance with Talcott Parsons dates back to 1967 when he very kindly permitted me to visit him at Harvard University for an interview (Helle 1980).
Horst J. Helle
Prof. Horst J. Helle