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Biblical Archaeology Review 49:3, Fall 2023

Milestone: Dennis E. Groh (1939–2023)

By James R. Strange

Dennis Groh died on April 22 at age 83. He never wanted to be just one thing, and he never was.

Born in Chicago in 1939, he became a high school and college athlete. At the time of his death, he was an honored patristics scholar, a retired university chaplain, and professor of humanities and archaeology at Illinois Wesleyan University. He was also my friend.

When we began digging at Shikhin in 2012, I wanted him at the pottery table because of his knowledge of imported wares. It turned out that we would find little of it at the site, but he generously gave us everything else he had to offer—especially teaching and encouragement.

Groh earned his Ph.D. in 1970 from Northwestern University, where he specialized in patristics, Hellenistic and classical studies, and Roman history and archaeology. His fascination with the Roman and Byzantine worlds led him to digs in Cyprus, Italy, Israel, Tunisia, and Turkey, and to staff positions at Caesarea Maritima, Meiron, Sepphoris, Tel Nessana, and Shikhin. Along the way, he garnered the many honors narrated in the foreword to Studies on Patristic Texts and Archaeology: If These Stones Could Speak … Essays in Honor of Dennis Edward Groh (2009).

Groh leaves behind his wife of 25 years, Dr. Connie Groh, children, and grandchildren. But many of us still envision him at a picnic table at Kibbutz Ha-Solelim in the 1990s, a glass of something resting at his elbow and smoke curling from the cigarette in his fingers, commenting in his smooth baritone on flowers, people, weather, architecture, and something he called “the new aesthetic.”

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