David Gitlitz, associate professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at IU from 1968 to 1976, passed away on December 30, 2020 from complications stemming from COVID-19 in the town of Santa Cruz Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico, where he had made his home in recent years.
Gitlitz received his BA and PhD from Harvard University and came directly from there to IU. In 1974, at his initiative, our department sponsored the world's first academic pilgrimage program, when he led seven students the whole length of the Camino de Santiago: see a remembrance in La Gaceta Internacional at https://spanport.indiana.edu/newsletter/2020-summer/department/highlight.html. After leaving IU, he served as chair of the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Nebraska, and then professor of Hispanic Studies and provost at the University of Rhode Island, from which he retired in 2006.
With his second wife Linda Davidson (IU MA 1978, PhD 1980), Gitlitz co-authored a volume that resulted from their many experiences on the Camino: The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook (St. Martin's, 2000). They later went on to expand their research to world pilgrimages in Pilgrimages: From the Ganges to Graceland, 2 vols. (ABC-Clio, 2002) and in Pilgrimage and the Jews (Praeger, 2006). A second specialty on the Sephardic Jews resulted in another collaborative volume with Davidson, A Drizzle of Honey: The Lives and Recipes of Spain's Secret Jews (St. Martin's, 1999). In 1996 Gitlitz had also published Secrecy and Deceit: The Religion of the Crypto-Jews (University of New Mexico). He recently served as a major advisor for the 2020 documentary film Children of the Inquisition.
Our department expresses its deepest sympathy to David's daughters, Abby Gitlitz of Bloomington and Deborah Gitlitz of Portland, Oregon, and to their mother Libby DeVoe.