Meno H. Spann, professor emeritus of German languages and literature, died Nov. 19  in Evanston Hospital following a brief illness. He was 88.
A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Dec. 12 at Northwestern's Jeanne Vail Chapel.
Spann joined the Northwestern faculty in 1943 and spent nearly three decades teaching courses in German literature. In addition to his academic achievements, Spann was an accomplished puppeteer who annually performed "Dr. Faustus," a puppet-show adaption of Philip Marlowe's play of the same name.
At Northwestern, Spann's research interests included the works of Heinrich Heine, Franz Kafka and Thomas Mann, and he taught undergraduate courses in 19th century and modern German literature. Prior to joining Northwestern, he taught at Cornell University and the universities of Oregon, North Carolina, Maryland and Iowa.
"He was an extremely popular teacher. Professor Spann's literature classes often attracted more than 650 students," said Volker Durr, current chairman of the department of German languages and literature and a former colleague of Spann. Spann received numerous Faculty Honor Awards from Northwestern's Student Senate in recognition of his outstanding teaching.
His interest in puppetry formed during his childhood in Germany. He first performed "Dr. Faustus" in 1941 with six borrowed hand puppets. The show grew in popularity while he was at Northwestern and by 1971, Spann had created and was using more than 28 hand-carved, hand and rod-type puppets in the production. All the puppets, props and scenery were created by Spann. A member of the Puppeteers of America, his work is described in "The Puppet Theatre in America: 1524 to Now," by Paul McPharlin.
Spann was the author of more than 15 readers and textbooks, including "Deutsch fur Amerikaner," co-authored by C.R. Goedsche, which has been used as a basic text in more than half of the colleges and universities teaching undergraduate courses in German language in the United States. His book, "Franz Kafka," was published following his retirement from Northwestern in 1971.
Born in 1903 and raised in Germany, Spann came to the United States in 1928 and became an American citizen in 1936. He received his undergraduate academic training from Humanistisches Gymnasium and his doctoral degree, magna cum laude, from Marburg University in Marburg, Germany, in 1928.
Spann, who was a resident of Chicago, is survived by his wife, Brigitte, of Chicago; a son, Philip, of Salt Lake City, Utah; and a granddaughter.