IRVINE — Philosopher Abraham I. Melden, a founding UC Irvine faculty member and the first chair of the university's department of philosophy, has died of congestive heart failure, university officials announced Tuesday. He was 81.
Melden was considered one of the nation's foremost scholars in the area of ethics and the philosophy of human action. A Phi Beta Kappa who took his doctorate degree from UC Berkeley in 1938, he was the author of five books and numerous reviews and articles.
"It's kind of a passing of an era of people who helped in the building of this campus," UCI Chancellor Jack W. Peltason said of Melden's passing. "Professor Melden was a very distinguished philosopher, and he was active until the very end."
Melden joined the UCI faculty in 1964, after 18 years at the University of Washington at Seattle. During his tenure at UCI, he also taught at universities in Japan, Taiwan and Korea as a visiting Fulbright distinguished lecturer. In 1972, he was named the Outstanding Educator of America. The same year, the UCI's alumni association gave him the Extraordinarius Award as the person best exemplifying the campus spirit and mission.
In 1988, 11 years after his retirement--apparently in name only--UCI awarded him its highest honor, the UCI Medal. At that time, after cardiac surgery, the longtime Newport Beach resident continued to teach, write and work with UCI's Humanities Research Institute.
Melden is survived by his wife, Regula, and their daughter, Jean, who lives in Menlo Park. No funeral services were planned, but a memorial service will be scheduled at a later date, UCI officials said. In lieu of flowers, Melden's family suggests that contributions be made payable to the UCI Foundation and sent in care of the Abraham I. Melden Memorial Fund to the department of philosophy, UC Irvine, Irvine, Calif. 92717.