Renowned former University professor passes away at 93

Gisela Konopka taught at the University from 1947-78 and was a pioneer in female adolescent development.

Jessica Weaver

Former University professor Gisela Konopka died Tuesday in Minneapolis. She was 93.

Konopka taught at the University from 1947-78.

During her career, Konopka was one of the first professors to focus on issues related to adolescent girls. She wrote more than a dozen books and 300 journal articles and was a leading proponent of group social work.

The Konopka Institute in the University’s department of pediatrics is named after her. Throughout her career, she focused specifically on female adolescent

development, writing “Portrait of a Young Girl” and “Young Girls, a Portrait of Adolescence.”

Her 1966 book “The Adolescent Girl in Conflict” was the first in-depth study of delinquent girls. Konopka included poems written by incarcerated girls, who were particularly interesting to her, said Robert Blum, a University professor and director of the Center for Adolescent Health and Development.

Blum used to work with Konopka.

“She was bright, engaged, argumentative and opinionated,” Blum said. “She was extremely outspoken against any injustice that she saw. She had an extraordinary capacity to have friends who ranged in age from 16 to 90.”

Konopka was born in 1910 in Berlin. A Holocaust survivor, she was part of the resistance movement in Germany during World War II before fleeing to New York, where she was married in 1941.

Despite enduring the Holocaust, Blum said, Konopka had a positive outlook on life.

A private memorial service for family and close friends will be held Sunday. On Jan. 9, a memorial service will be held at the McNamara alumni center from 10 a.m. to noon.