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Man who died in D.C. fire was assistant professor at George Washington University

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 4/8/2021 Peter Hermann, Lauren Lumpkin

The man who died in a fire in Northeast Washington’s Brookland neighborhood early Wednesday has been identified as a 73-year-old longtime faculty member at George Washington University and a grief counselor.

Paul Tschudi also had been executive director of the St. Francis Center, which changed its name in 1999 to the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing. The nonprofit organization offers a variety of therapy and counseling programs.

“Paul’s contributions to the St. Francis Center remain an integral part of the Wendt Center today,” said Carolyn Stanek Lucy, director of development and communications for the nonprofit.

Though Tschudi had left more than a decade ago, Lucy said, staff members “are grieving the loss of one of our own.”

[Man dies in fire in Brookland]

The fire at the detached wood-frame home in the 1500 block of Monroe Street NE, which Tschudi had lived in for nearly three decades, was first reported about 4:10 a.m. Wednesday.

A neighbor told a 911 operator that it appeared the kitchen was on fire.

Fire officials said Tschudi’s body was found in the house. Authorities said a dog also died. There were no other occupants. A fire department spokesman said the cause remained under investigation.

Tschudi was the founding director of GWU’s graduate certificate program in grief, loss and life transition. He taught courses in grief and loss, developed curriculum in end-of-life care fields and spoke on issues of grief and life transition.

He had been at GWU for 31 years in a variety of positions, including roles in the nursing and medical schools. He most recently worked as an assistant professor in health sciences at the GWU Graduate School of Education and Human Development, according to the university.

He also was a veteran of the Vietnam War. The university provided a video of Tschudi speaking in 2011 describing being called to war, where “my morals, my values, my body and my soul were all going to be at risk,” he said.

Tschudi said he wrestled with basic training. “What we were being trained for was to win a war, to kill people,” he said. “My soul was not prepared, because I cannot kill.”

He said he dunked his hands in boiling water, causing injuries that kept him out of combat. He finished the war as a medic and said in his speech that he spent years trying to reconcile what he had experienced.

Tschudi said that after the war, he traveled to 17 countries, lived in 10 homes and held multiple jobs.

“Finally, my soul felt safe enough to return to me,” he said.

Tschudi “contributed extensively to the lives of veterans transitioning to civilian life, including GW students,” the university said in a statement. “This was a life passion of his.”

Efforts to reach Tschudi’s family Thursday were not successful.

Read more: A mental health crisis was spreading on college campuses. The pandemic has made it worse. Elizabeth Shedlick, nurse to two presidents, dies of covid-19 a statue of a person in a garden © Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post a train crossing a bridge over water: HANDOUT - One man died in a fire early Wednesday, April 7, 2021 in the 1500 block of Monroe Street NE in Washington, DC. The cause the fire in the two-story house has not yet been determined. ( © D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services HANDOUT - One man died in a fire early Wednesday, April 7, 2021 in the 1500 block of Monroe Street NE in Washington, DC. The cause the fire in the two-story house has not yet been determined. (
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