Marvin C. Rintala, a retired professor of political science who taught at Boston College for four decades, died on September 9. He was 87.
"Professor Marvin Rintala was a beloved political science professor at Boston College," said W. Paul White, a former student of Dr. Rintala and former director of government affairs at BC. "Marvin was brilliant, witty, incisive, and passionate about the study of European political systems and the personalities of the leaders of these countries. He inspired generations of Boston College students to study, understand, and appreciate the systems of government 'across the pond.'
"I am forever grateful for the grace of having known him, been mentored by him, and for his friendship of over 55 years. I have appreciated our many lunches, calls, visits, and conversations these many years with our mutual dear friend Franklyn Salimbene," said White, who noted that he had a lengthy visit with Dr. Rintala in August.
A native of Cloquet, Minn., Dr. Rintala joined the University in 1963 after having been on the Brown University faculty. He specialized in the politics of Western Europe and social forces and published five books and numerous articles over the course of his career at BC.
His notable publications include Lloyd George and Churchill: How Friendship Changed History, an in-depth study of the personal and political relationship of two of Great Britain’s most prominent prime ministers of the 20th century, David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill—often referred to as “the Heavenly Twins” by envious colleagues. Publishers Weekly praised Dr. Rintala’s “masterful exposition” in comparing Lloyd George and Churchill’s formative years, the development of their oratorical and writing skills, the character of their mental depressions, and how they supported one another during times of stress.
Dr. Rintala, who was of Finnish descent, also authored Four Finns: Political Profiles, a portrait of Gustaf Mannerheim, Vaino Tanner, K.J. Stahlberg, and J.K. Paasiviki, who played foundational roles in shaping Finland’s politics and government. In another book, he recounted the creation and development of Great Britain’s National Health Service.
Among his other activities at the University, Dr. Rintala was a presenter in a wide-ranging lecture series, “Modern Man: The Cultural Tradition,” launched by the College of Arts and Sciences in 1965. He also was part of a group of faculty members in the 1960s that advocated for the establishment of an institute to study policies and practices in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
Fittingly for a political scientist, Dr. Rintala—known for his dry wit and devotion to students—mustered some support in a 1966 mock election on campus in which undergraduates cast ballots for several major offices: He received two votes to represent Massachusetts in the United States Senate, and one for Massachusetts governor.
He retired from BC in 2004.
Dr. Rintala earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago, and attended Helsinki University as a Fulbright Scholar. He received master’s and doctoral degrees from the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He later created a scholarship fund for graduates of his alma mater, Cloquet High School.
A private graveside service was held on September 20.
University Communications | September 2021