Albert J. “Al” Montesi, an author and professor emeritus of St. Louis University, died Thursday (Nov. 2, 2006) of cancer at his home. He was 85 and a resident of St. Louis.

Mr. Montesi was born in Memphis, Tenn. In World War II, he served as a control tower operator. He then attended the universities of Tennessee, Northwestern and Michigan and earned a Ph.D. at Penn State.

He taught at Penn State, the Citadel, SUNY at Buffalo, Wesleyan in Connecticut and the University of the Ruhr in Bochum, Germany, before joining SLU in 1957. He taught there for 34 years.

His specialty was modern American and British literature. He also taught drama, creative writing, film and folklore. A fund was established in his name in 1985 for SLU students who show ability in the creative arts. The Montesi Lecture series was founded by the university. When he retired in 1991, Mr. Montesi was named professor emeritus.

Mr. Montesi wrote five books of poetry, one of which, “Five Dinners to Quick Lunch” was published in England along with English poet Richard Hill. In 1984, Mr. Montesi penned “Robots and Gardens,” a science-fiction poetry collection. His most successful poetry work was “Windows and Mirrors.” He also published “The Quilt Poems,” with sketches of deceased AIDS patients whose names appear on a special quilt.

In the Arcadia American Image series, he co-authored books on St. Louis locations with photographer Richard Deposki, covering Lafayette Square, Soulard, Union Station, downtown and the Central West End.

His popular children’s books focused on Peter Bently, a detective feline. They included “The Super-Slueth Cat,” “The Case of the St. Louis World’s Fair,” and “The Case of the Drowned Titanic Passenger.”

He also wrote several plays that are being published by Cornerstone Press. Three were produced in St. Louis and Kansas City.

Mr. Montesi received Mellon grants for papers on Joyce, Yeats, Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot and Southern literary figures. He wrote a critical book, “The Southern Review: Radical Conservatism.” He also received a Learned Society grant.

He became one of the early rehabbers in Lafayette Square on Benton Place in 1967. In the late 1970s, he began holding an annual Christmas circus for underprivileged and disabled children.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at McLaughlin Funeral Home, 2301 Lafayette Avenue in St. Louis. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Francis Xavier (College) Church, at Grand and Lindell boulevards. Interment will be in Memphis.

Among the survivors are a sister, Lillian Montesi Bursi of Memphis; and a brother, Alex Montesi of Memphis.

Last edited by Godsil.   Page last modified on November 07, 2006

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