Milica Banjanin, professor emerita of Russian in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, died Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, shortly before her 80th birthday.
Born in Zagreb, Yugoslavia (now Croatia), Banjanin immigrated to the United States in 1956 at the age of 17, living initially in New York but subsequently moving to St. Louis, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree from Washington University in 1961. She then earned a master’s degree from Columbia University, in 1963, and the following year returned to Washington University as an instructor in Russian.
In 1970, after completing her doctorate in comparative literature, Banjanin was promoted to assistant professor of Russian and became associate professor in 1976. She served on more than a dozen university committees, including the Faculty Council and the Committee for the Humanities, which she chaired in 1973. In 1986, she was appointed chair of Russian, a position she held until retiring in 2006.
An authority on 20th-century Russian culture and literature, Banjanin wrote numerous articles and book chapters. She received many honors during her career, including grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the International Research and Exchange Board and the Fulbright-Hays Program.
After retiring, she and Stanko Banjanin, her husband of 55 years, continued to host lively salon-style gatherings at their home in Clayton, with the discussions often carrying on until late in the evening.
A memorial will be held Feb. 17 at Washington University’s Whittemore House, 6440 Forsyth Blvd. In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to the university’s Arts & Sciences annual fund or to the American Lung Association.