Paul E. Zinner, a former UC Davis political science professor who was a leading scholar on the Cold War and its aftermath, died March 17 of congestive heart failure in San Francisco. He was 90.
Dr. Zinner, who taught at UC Davis for 30 years, was a widely recognized expert on Soviet and Eastern European affairs. He advised U.S. and European government officials and was quoted often in news stories on major events in East-West relations, including the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Fluent in German, French, Czech, Hungarian and Russian, he lectured in many countries and wrote extensively on international relations, foreign policy and democratic and communist political systems. From 1963 to 1977, he was a commentator on KQED in San Francisco on the weekly TV program "World Press."
Dr. Zinner retired in 1991 from UC Davis, where he was director of the International Relations Program from 1979 to 1985 and spent two years as political science chairman. He was a past chairman of the Academic Senate and Academic Council of the statewide University of California system.
Born in 1922 in Kosice, Czechoslovakia, Dr. Zinner spoke no English when he arrived in New York in 1940. He graduated magna cum laude from Tufts College in Massachusetts and served in the Army as an intelligence analyst for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II.
He worked as an analyst for the U.S. State Department and earned a master's degree in regional studies and a doctorate in political science at Harvard University. He previously taught at Columbia University and was a visiting professor at the National War College in Washington and Freie Universität Berlin in Germany.
He is survived by his wife, Joan Zinner of San Francisco, and four children from a previous marriage to the late Myra Stone that ended in divorce: daughters, Judith Zinner and Victoria Rochester, both of Sacramento; and sons, William of Sacramento and John of Washington state. He also is survived by two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A memorial service is set for 11 a.m. April 21 at St. Mary's Cathedral, 1111 Gough St., San Francisco.