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Lasting Legacies Left by Former OU Leaders


Dr. Marvin Wilson

Dr. Marvin Harold “Doc” Wilson, a 1960 Ottawa University graduate and long-time member of the University’s board of trustees, passed away on Jan. 11, 2020, at the Health Care Resort in Topeka, Kan., surrounded by his loving family. He was 81.

Wilson was born July 2, 1938, in Ottawa, Kan., the son of Charles and Wilmenta (Reese) Wilson. He graduated from Ottawa High School in 1956, and then attended Ottawa University where he received a BS degree. He then received his MD degree from Howard University Medical College in Washington D.C. in 1964.

Marvin served his country as a Major and a surgeon in the United States Air Force from 1969 to 1971. Following his service, he started a medical practice in Topeka as a solo practitioner, performing general surgery with a sub-specialty in peripheral vascular surgery through 1989. He was also founder and owner of KTPK-FM radio in Topeka from 1974 to 1980, and co-owner with his wife of Winners Unlimited, a consulting company that offered networking and coaching for businesses, from 1986 to his death.

In addition to his love of medicine and health, he frequently expressed his life goal: “To whom much is given, much is required. I desire to make a difference, large or small, known or unknown, in the lives of others.” One of his greatest passions was service to his alma mater, Ottawa University.

“Marvin was on the board of trustees from 1978 to 2009, serving in several positions, including the facilities committee and, most notably, as chair of the board from 1994 to 1996,” Chancellor Kevin Eichner said. “Prior to joining the board, he was director of the Alumni Association. Marvin was instrumental in the design and supervision of the Braves Athletics Hall of Fame (BAHOF) space in the Hull Center for Athletics, and was very excited about the new BAHOF space on the first floor of the new press box at AdventHealth Field at Ottawa University. He loved beautifying the Ottawa campus and his handprints are all over the lovely and functional campus we enjoy today.”

Having been an outstanding three-sport athlete himself, Wilson was a steadfast supporter of Braves athletics. In 1990, he was inducted into the Braves Athletics Hall of Fame. After his retirement from the Board in 2009, Wilson served faithfully on the Chancellor’s Council. In the Ottawa community, Wilson was honored with the city’s “Black History Human Service Award” in 1985. Ottawa High School inducted Wilson as a member of its “Wall of Honor” in 1997.

Wilson was preceded in death by his parents, and two brothers:, Charles Henry Wilson and John Christopher Wilson. He leaves behind his beloved wife, Lela Louise (Turner), of 38 years, and their cherished blended children, grandchildren, and great granddaughters.

Dr. Henry “Hank” Tillinghast

Dr. Henry S. “Hank” Tillinghast Jr., a beloved Ottawa University faculty member, passed away July 28, 2019, at Olathe Hospice House after a courageous battle with brain cancer. He was 70.

Tillinghast was born Jan. 1, 1949, in Concordia, Kan., the son of Henry Sr. and Lois (Shellenberger) Tillinghast. He graduated Clifton High School in 1967, and then went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kansas State University. Tillinghast served in the United States Air Force for 22 years, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel. During his service, he was stationed in Florida, New Mexico, Taiwan, Germany, Oxford, England, where he earned his PhD in biochemistry; and the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he was a tenured associate professor for 13 years. Tillinghast’s “civilian life” began with a professorship at Williams Baptist College in Arkansas, and then he spent 15 years at Ottawa University before retiring in 2014.

“Hank could always be found eagerly helping others, sharing unusual facts with anyone who would listen, fostering laughter, and showing love to students,” Dr. Terry Haines, University provost, said. “He was a true friend to all faculty, staff and administrators. I say with a full heart that he helped us see the majesty of the natural world and the marvel of its intricate design, all with a passion for inquiry. He was extraordinary and well loved.”

Chancellor Eichner said about Tillinghast: “We have been blessed over the years with some excellent faculty members. Some manage to rise to the level of legendary because of their impact on students and the University as a whole. Hank was one of those.”

Tillinghast was honored with a Master of Humane Letters from Ottawa University. In the community, he was a member of Grace Community Fellowship, serving as an elder, trustee and Sunday School teacher. Fishing with grandkids, cheering on the Royals, woodworking and home projects were his favorite pastimes.

Tillinghast was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his beloved wife, Phyllis, of the home, two daughters, Jennifer Johnson and Renata Wilson, both of Ottawa; three brothers, twin Herbert (Linda) of Kansas City, Mo., John (Debbie) of Clifton, Kan., and Karl (Sue) of Lincoln, Neb.; and six grandchildren.

Dr. Sherwin Snyder

Dr. Sherwin Snyder, one of the namesakes for Ottawa University’s Angell Snyder School of Business, passed away on July 19, 2019, at Westminster Village in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he and his late wife of 59 years, Dorothy, had lived since 1990. He was 86.

Snyder was born March 20, 1933, in North Canton, Ohio. His musical education began at age seven. His youth was filled with a rich musical education including bands, choirs, ongoing piano tutelage and eventually the organ. After high school, Sherwin graduated from Kent State University in 1955 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He also earned a master’s degree in industrial management from Ohio State University in 1958, and then in 1969, a PhD in Business Administration and Organizational Behavior from Indiana University.

Snyder had an extraordinary career at Ottawa University. He was the namesake for the University’s School of Business, along with his dear friend, Dr. Wayne Angell. Snyder joined OU’s teaching staff in 1960 as professor of economics. He taught at both the Ottawa, Kan., and Phoenix, Ariz., campuses for a total of 38 years, and during his tenure served as Chairman of the Department of Economics, Director of Graduate Studies in Human Resources and Dean of Graduate Studies. He was also the faculty representative to the board of trustees.

Indicative of his innovative teaching methods and popularity among students, Snyder was named “Faculty Member of the Year” four times. He retired from OU in 1998.  

“Dr. Snyder was an extraordinary individual, who positively impacted thousands of lives. Above all, he was a wise and cherished friend to the entire University community, and we will miss him deeply,” Dr. Terry Haines, University provost, said.

In the community, Snyder was the Ottawa, Kan., commissioner from 1979 to 1983. He later served as mayor from 1982 to 1983. He was also a church organist at churches in Kansas and Arizona.

Snyder was preceded in death by his parents and wife. Survivors include, his son, David (Susan), and grandsons Stephen, Mark and James Snyder of Chicago; his daughter, Claudia (Mark), and granddaughters Caroline and Louisa Mills of Prairie Village, Kan.


About Ottawa University

Founded in 1865, Ottawa University prepares professional and liberal arts graduates for lifetimes of personal significance, vocational fulfillment and service to God and humanity as a Christ-inspired community of grace and open inquiry. Ottawa University is a comprehensive, not-for-profit educational institution, serving more than 4,500 students through its residential campuses in Ottawa, Kan., and Surprise, Ariz., and adult campuses in Overland Park, Kan.; Surprise, Ariz.; Brookfield, Wis.; and online. Visit for more information.

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