By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer
COVEDALE - Award-winning writer John Aber had a gift for finding magic in the mundane - one that he shared every day with students at the College of Mount St. Joseph.
Dr. Aber died Thursday following a massive heart attack on Sept. 1 that left him comatose. The Covedale resident was 52.
"He enriched, challenged and treasured us all - students, colleagues and friends," said Sister Peg McPeak, humanities department chair. "We are all better people because John is a part of our lives."
Dr. Aber, who joined the Delhi Township college in 1985 and was promoted to full professor last year, taught writing, literature and film history in the communications studies program.
A writer of short stories, he received two writing fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council and in 1993 won a literary fiction award from Amergris magazine for his story, "Mastodon." He turned the discovery of dinosaur remains on a golf course into a fictional tale.
At the time, Dr. Aber was quoted as saying he liked writing stories that combined the magical and the mundane.
Like "Mastodon," many of Dr. Aber's stories were set in Newark, Ohio, where he was born and raised.
He also conducted fiction-writing workshops and served on the editorial board for Down the River: A Collection of Ohio Valley Fiction and Poetry in the 1990s.
But Dr. Aber did more than write. He helped students become writers and mentored them as well.
In 1996, he was honored as the Co-op Faculty Adviser of the Year. In 2001, the alumni presented Dr. Aber with the Faculty Appreciation Award for inspiring students.
"Above all else, John was passionate about his students," said Cynthia Zane, chief academic officer and dean of faculty.
"He enjoyed teaching the most when he moved from the front of his class to sit among the students and they would write together."
Aber earned a bachelor's degree 1973 from Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, where he studied English, theater and speech.
He received a master's degree and doctorate from Ohio State University.
A service to celebrate Dr. Aber's life will be 4 p.m. Monday at the Mater Dei Chapel at Mount St. Joseph.
Directions to the college are at www.msj.edu.
Funeral services will be private.
Memorials: The College of Mount St. Joseph, c/o development office, 5701 Delhi Road, Cincinnati 45233.
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