Alumni Profiles     

 

Florence Byham Weinberg, '54    
         Distinguished Alumna, 2008
              


 

The Distinguished Alumni Awards are given to Park alumni who have distinguished themselves through career service or community achievements. Florence Byham Weinberg, ’54, Ph.D., is Park University’s 2008 Distinguished Alumna.

Weinberg retired in 1999, leaving behind a remarkable career in the world of academia to embark on a new and distinguished career as a novelist.

Originally from the high desert country of New Mexico, Weinberg traveled the world as an Army brat during World War II. Before finding her way to Park, she had already published a poem and written and illustrated her first “novel.” At Park, Weinberg earned degrees in French and Spanish. She followed these with a master’s degree in Spanish and a doctorate in French.

Weinberg spent the next 34 years as a professor of modern languages, including 22 years at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., and 10 years at Trinity University in San Antonio. Throughout this time she served as chair of the language departments, director of international studies, authored more than 20 scholarly articles and four scholarly books. While at St. John Fisher, Weinberg was named “Teacher of the Year.” In addition, she received the Distinguished Scholarship Achievement Award and the National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Fellowship (1980-81), as well as several NEH summer research grants, awards and fellowships. She has published many articles in learned journals on French and Spanish Renaissance subjects, contributed to literary dictionaries, Festschrifts, collected volumes and other publications. She has reviewed for specialized journals on French literature in the U.S. and abroad. Along with her late husband, noted scholar Kurt Weinberg, she continued to travel extensively, working and researching in Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain and Switzerland.

Since leaving the world of higher education, Weinberg has produced eight novels, ranging from fantasy to historical romance and mystery. Three are a series of historical mysteries, starring an 18th century Jesuit missionary, with settings in the Sonoran Desert and an ancient monastery in Spain. A fourth is a historical novel, based on the struggle to establish missions along the San Antonio River. Her most recent work, Seven Cities of Mud, was released this spring. It is a historical novel about the second expedition up the Rio Grande River in 1581, 40 years after Coronado’s attempt to find the Seven Cities of Gold. She has received critical acclaim for Apache Lance, Franciscan Cross, as a finalist for the 2006 WILLA literary award in the historical fiction division (from The Women Writing the West), and as the 2007 New Mexico Book Award Finalist in two categories: best historical fiction and best book on the Southwest. She has served four residencies at The Hambidge Center for Writers and Artists (1999, 2000, 2001 and 2003), in Rabun Gap, Ga.

Weinberg resides in San Antonio where she enjoys the western life of which she writes. An avid horse enthusiast, she also hikes, bikes and travels. She is currently working on the fourth addition to her mystery series. Fellow classmate Elizabeth Altfather Core, ’54, wrote in her nomination of Weinberg, “Flo is amazing!”