It is with great sadness that we report the passing of a beloved colleague.
H. Paul Varley, a towering figure in the field of premodern Japanese history and Sen Sōshitsu XV Distinguished Chair of Traditional Japanese Culture and History at UH Mānoa from its inauguration in 1994 until his retirement in 2004, passed away on December 15, 2015.
Paul was born on February 8, 1931, in Paterson, New Jersey. A US Army Veteran of the Korean War, Paul went on to receive a BS Degree from Lehigh University in 1952, an MA from Columbia University in 1961, and a PhD in History from Columbia University in 1964 and came to UHM for his first teaching position (1964-1965). Paul then taught in the Department of East Asian Languages and Culture at Columbia University from 1965 to 1993. During that time he established himself as this country’s foremost authority on medieval Japanese cultural history and compiled a distinguished body of publications.
Fortunately for UHM his retirement from Columbia as Professor Emeritus of Japanese History in 1994 did not mean the end of his career. Dr. Varley returned to UHM as the Sen Soshitsu XV Chair in 1994 and over the next 10 years taught courses such as Japanese Civilization (HIST 321/322), History of the Way of Tea (HIST 323), History of the Samurai (HIST 324), and Seminars in Japanese History (HIST 665B/C).
Over the course of his illustrious career, Paul published numerous books and articles, including such pioneering books as The Ōnin War (1967), Imperial Restoration in Medieval Japan (1971), Samurai (with Ivan and Nobuko Morris, 1974), Tea in Japan (with Kamakura Isao, 1989) and Warriors of Japan (1994). His Japanese Culture, first published by UH Press in 1974 and now in its fourth edition, remains a best-selling text. An active member of the Association for Asian Studies, the Japan Society, and the Konnichi Kai of Hawaii, Paul served on the boards of directors of the Urasenke Tea Foundation, New York, and the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. In 1996 he received The Order of the Rising Star, Gold Rays with Rosette, from the Government of Japan in recognition for his contributions to the field of Japanese Studies
During his last years, Paul resided in New Jersey. He is survived by his wife, Betty Jane (Geiskopf) Varley, his daughter Sharyn Hennen, five grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.