Paul A. Orlov, 66, of Berwyn, a retired college professor so commanding in the classroom a student once dubbed him "the Emperor of English," died Tuesday, April 8, of cancer at Bryn Mawr Hospital.
Dr. Orlov was an associate professor emeritus of English and American studies at Pennsylvania State University's Brandywine campus in Media. He was known for his interpretations of the novels of Theodore Dreiser from philosophical and sociological perspectives.
Dr. Orlov authored a book on Dreiser's An American Tragedy published by Bucknell University Press, along with numerous articles in journals and book chapters.
For many years, Dr. Orlov served as an officer of the International Theodore Dreiser Society. He also was a member of the American Culture Association and the American Literature Association.
At the Brandywine campus, Dr. Orlov was chosen twice by his colleagues to lead them as faculty chair; he also served on numerous university committees.
Born and raised in Chicago, he graduated in 1969 with honors from Michigan State University. He completed his master's degree in 1970, and a doctoral degree in English in 1978 from the University of Toronto.
First and foremost, though, Dr. Orlov was a consummate teacher of literature and writing. He held students to high standards and was a tough grader but offered them the chance to redo papers with his guidance.
"He was famous for that," said his wife, the former Debbie Herzog. "He would have them submit first drafts. He spent a lot of time with them. It was all to teach students how to write and improve their grades. He did his best teaching one on one in his office."
With a booming voice, Dr. Orlov knew how to take command of a classroom, leading a former student to dub him "the Emperor of English."
"He knew from a very young age he wanted to be a professor," his wife said. "He liked being onstage."
Dr. Orlov cared about his students' success, in the classroom and later in life: Many stayed in touch with him for decades. He retired in 2013 after 31 years of teaching at Penn State.
A Democrat, Dr. Orlov was passionate about politics and sports. He enjoyed classical music, literature, movies, and good conversation. He loved to travel and saw whales and moose in the wild, which he had always hoped to do.
He enjoyed being a grandfather and had a special bond with Miss Muffet, his Jack Russell terrier.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by step-daughters Kelly King-O'Brien and Carrie O'Brien; a brother; twin granddaughters; and several nieces and nephews. He was briefly married and divorced in Canada.
A visitation at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 10, will be followed by a memorial service at 2 p.m. at D'Anjolell Memorial Homes, 392 Lancaster Ave., Frazer, Pa. 19355. Burial is private.
Memorials may be made to the Cancer Support Community Greater Philadelphia, 200 Kirk Rd., Warminster, Pa. 18974.