Claude Hulet, emeritus professor in the department of Spanish and Portuguese at UCLA and who shaped the growth of Portuguese studies at UCLA, died August 22. He was 96.
Born in rural Michigan in 1920, Hulet’s early years growing up on a farm instilled in him the curiosity to chart a life of scholarship and exploration.
After early studies in Spanish at the University of Michigan, Hulet joined the U.S. Air Force during World War II as a cryptographer and a station chief for more than two years in Brazil. Completing his studies after the war he taught both Spanish and Portuguese literature as a young assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis, then in 1958 accepted an invitation to come to UCLA, where his work came to transform Brazilian and Portuguese studies.
At UCLA, in addition to many scholarly articles he published an early bibliography in two volumes of Latin American poetry and Latin American prose, and created a three-volume historical survey of Brazilian literature. Leading a pioneering program in Portuguese studies, Hulet directed the UCLA-Brazil Student Leader Seminar on U.S. culture, each year selecting 16 to 20 student participants from personal interviews with students at universities throughout Brazil. He also created and then directed the annual international Symposium on Portuguese Traditions at UCLA, with participants from around the world, for 32 years.
Hulet was one of the first to use an engineering mainframe computer to do word processing, and later helped to introduce the first international university-to-university computer information network, established between UCLA and universities in Brazil. For many years he was an active member of the Adventurers’ Club and until recently served as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
He was honored as an Officer of the Order of Rio Branco, as well as Comendador of the Order of the Southern Cross by the Brazilian government, and was elected a Corresponding Member of the Lisbon Geographic Society and Corresponding Member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.
Hulet is survived by Maria José, his wife of 34 years, as well as his three sons Claude Jr., Richard and Roger, stepson Miguel Pedro Boniface and grandson Michael Sean Boniface. In lieu of flowers please consider a contribution to the Salvation Army, U.S. Coast Guard Foundation, American Cancer Society or the Catalytic Foundation.
The UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Spanish and Portuguese department will host a memorial service for Hulet from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15 at the UCLA Faculty Center. Guests are requested to RSVP.