Ingrid G. Daemmrich, 82, a longtime professor at Drexel University whose love of literature led her to a lengthy career as a teacher and author, died Sunday, May 27, of cardio-renal failure at Chestnut Hill Hospital.
Professor Daemmrich taught freshman English classes at Drexel University for 30 years, focusing on the critical reading and writing skills required for academic and professional success.
“She really enjoyed what she called the intellectual life,” in which she read and talked about books and their authors, said her daughter, JoAnna.
One of her proudest moments each year was helping to choose the winners of freshman composition prizes, including the Erika Guenther and Gertrude Daemmrich Memorial Prize that she established in 1998 to honor her late mother and mother-in-law.
Teaching was her life’s passion, and she remained active with the faculty of Drexel’s department of English and philosophy from 1984 until her retirement in 2014.
Born in Albany, N.Y., Professor Daemmrich was the daughter of German immigrants, Alfred and Erika Guenther, and the eldest of four children.
She knew she wanted to be a teacher from the time she recruited her younger brother and sisters for an imaginary playtime classroom at home. “She was a pretty strict teacher,” her daughter said.
After graduating from high school in Warwick, R.I., she enrolled at Radcliffe College, then the women’s division of Harvard University. She won a Fulbright scholarship to study in Bonn, Germany, in 1957, and graduated with honors from Radcliffe in 1958.
In 1959, while studying at the University of Chicago, she met her future husband, Horst S. Daemmrich, in the library’s reading room. She received her master’s degree in comparative literature in 1960.
Two years later, they married in Warwick, beginning a lifelong partnership that led them to coauthor several books and many academic articles.
Professor Daemmrich and her husband specialized in thematic studies, and their 1987 Handbook of Themes and Motifs in Western Literature became a reference guide for college students worldwide. It was translated into several languages including Japanese.
The couple deepened their exploration of the thematic approach in the 1994 book Spirals and Circles: A Key to Thematic Patterns. In 1997, Professor Daemmrich also explored the motif of paradise in her solo book Enigmatic Bliss.
As a young bride, Professor Daemmrich lived in Detroit, teaching along with her husband at Wayne State University. While raising two children, she completed a dissertation and earned a doctorate in French literature from Wayne State in 1970.
During their time in the Midwest, the couple bought a small vacation home on Lake Michigan that became a summer retreat for the family.
In 1981, when her husband joined the German department at the University of Pennsylvania, the couple moved to Flourtown. Professor Daemmrich taught for several years at Beaver College, now Arcadia University, before joining Drexel’s faculty in 1984.
Professor Daemmrich taught Sunday school for 55 years, and was active in Upper Dublin Lutheran Church, where she also cooked for families in need and belonged to a women’s Bible study group.
Beyond church and the classroom, Professor Daemmrich was most happy spending time with her children and grandchildren.
“She always looked for moments to discuss books that she, or they, were reading,” her family said.
In addition to her husband and daughter, she is survived by a son, Arthur; four grandchildren; a brother; and two sisters.
A memorial service was to be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 2, at Upper Dublin Lutheran Church, 411 Susquehanna Rd., Ambler. Interment is private.