Alumni News & Notes

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Otoniel Gonzaga, class of 1965
Died:  1/13/18

Estel worked for the Ottawa campus business office from 1944-1977.

Estel Jones obituary
Craig A. Smith, a longtime writer for The New Mexican’s Pasatiempo magazine and author of a book on John Crosby, founder of The Santa Fe Opera, died in Santa Fe on Thursday, his brother Dale Smith said. He was 63.
Troy Prosser, an OU alum was named Kansas Cross Country Coach of the year for 2017.  He is currently coaching at Central Heights High School in Franklin County, KS.

Ottawa Herald story

Thoughts from President Kevin Eichner:

Fred began his career as Dean of Students at the College in Ottawa, hired by Peter Armacost.  He served ably and amiably for several years, demonstrating even then a special affection for students and for what Ottawa University stands for.  He was deeply involved in the community and even served on the City Council and as Mayor for two terms.  His interest in the community was widely recognized and was a hallmark of his endeavors in Ottawa and then, later, in Phoenix, where Fred served as campus provost starting in 1981.
During Fred’s twenty year tenure as provost of Phoenix, enrollments grew from the hundreds to the thousands, breaking records year after year.  Almost single handedly, he built OU’s reputation and presence in the Valley of the Sun, a legacy that lives to this day and has helped to undergird our new residential campus there.  Now with 40 years of service to adult learners, Phoenix remains our largest student center, something for which Fred was rightfully thankful and proud.
Fred was a great marketer, never knew a stranger, and was gifted with the ability, as then Chair Patti Wolf said, “to create an atmosphere of collegiality, friendship and spirit in the support of the University’s mission.”  Because of these gifts, and his experience in helping to launch online at OU and in contributing greatly to the growth of OU’s international programs, he was asked to serve as Interim President of OU from 2007 to 2008, successfully paving the way for the next president.
Fred’s good nature, friendly smile, true caring, and love for people were infectious.  Ottawa University and all of us who knew him were blessed.  He most certainly will be missed, and gratefully remembered at OU in so many ways.
We pray for Connie, Amy and Megan and their extended family and will send information on memorials and arrangements when these are available.

Information about Memorial for Fred Zook:

Celebration of Life: Fred Zook
Saturday, December 2, 2017,  1:30pm
Shadow Rock United Church of Christ
Address: 12861 N 8th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85029
Phone: (602) 993-0050
Anita L. (Cain) Pyle from class of '67 died Sept. 14, 2016. She was a Math/Physics teacher and retired High School Principal. She is survived by her mother, two brothers, Todd and Trent Cain, husband, Chuck Pyle of class of '68, two daughters, Amy and Jody, and two grandchildren, Oliver and Juliet.
After 20 years as Executive Regional Minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Barbara retired from Regional Ministry. Since ordination 1/1/84, She served two congregations and the region of Kansas as Associate Regional Minister for 8 years. Prior to seminary, Barbara served on denominational staff in youth ministry. She have moved to Southern Kansas City to be available to my aging parents and my seven grandchildren who are located in Fort Worth and Denver.

Since returning home Barbara has completed a Masters in Human Services, Public Service Leadership. Along with volunteer work through Rotary, she is convening the Anti-Racism task group for the Greater Kansas City Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Barbara is still enjoying photography again and discovered that her Dad still has the OM-1 she used while at Ottawa. Barbara spent many hours in the OU darkroom 73-76. She is able to sing in church choir as she is not on the road preaching in AR, LA, or MS every week! Barbara connected with Dr. Renz and the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Management at UMKC and is networking with leaders in nonprofit governance. She loves being back home!
Comments from President Kevin Eichner on August 22, 2017:
Dear Friends,
We regret to share with you the news of the passing of Wilbur Wheaton, President Emeritus of Ottawa University.  Wilbur was the first Ottawa University graduate to serve as University president and was the 14th person to lead the University, stepping into the role in 1983.  He was awarded the rare “Emeritus” status by the board of trustees upon his retirement from the OU presidency in 1992, with the board noting its gratitude for his steadfast and selfless service in support of the OU mission.
During Wilbur’s nine-year tenure at the helm of OU, he oversaw many renovations to the College campus. Behan Hall transitioned to the Vera Wise Technology Center to prepare for the digital age, which was then nascent. Ward Science Hall was renovated and a modern, handicapped accessible wing was added. Atkinson Hall became the campus center for music and theatre. Martin Hall, Wilson Field House and the Mabee Center were renovated and restored. In anticipation of an increased need for technology campus wide, new fiber optics connected all facilities and computer labs were set-up in the residence halls while he was president.
Wilbur also made curriculum changes including the reintroduction of debate and forensics and the creation of degree programs in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan.
In 1984, the Wheaton’s established the Wilbur and Ellen Ann Wheaton Scholarship Fund which annually benefits a music student enrolled at OU.
Wilbur met Ellen Ann during their sophomore year at OU and they were married between semesters their senior year.  They were a fine president and first lady couple.  People described Wilbur as friendly, resolute, wise, patient, and very student centered.  He loved Ottawa University and everything it stands for.  Ellen Ann was and remains one of the kindest persons one will ever meet.  Together, they moved OU forward, and after their term, were totally loyal and remained engaged and supportive in every way. Ellen Ann even took the time to prepare a letter of advice for Marylin and me before we took the presidency.  One of her most sage and appropriate recommendations was “always wear comfortable shoes”.  No better advice could ever have been given.
Please keep the Wheaton family in your prayers: Ellen Ann Wheaton, Brian and Wendy (Wheaton) Den-Herder  and their children, and Robert (cousin) and Ruth Wheaton.  You may send condolences to or 286 S. Nistler Lane, Meridian, ID  83642.

Ottawa Herald obituary
Martha Henderson Hull class of 1947 was promoted on August 11, 2017.  She is survived by her husband Robert W. Hull, class of 1947, of Mt. Pleasant, TN.  They were married for 72 years.

JUDITH WHIRLEY MOHR KEANE - Ottawa High School Class of 1957, Ottawa University Class of 1970
Judith Mohr Keane, 78, passed peacefully on Memorial Day, May 29, 2017 in Prescott AZ.
A memorial reception will be held on August 26th from 1:00 - 3:00 pm. Remarks by family and friends will be at 2:00 pm.  Sedona Creative Life Center, 333 Schnebly Hill Road, Sedona, AZ.
Judith was born on March 22, 1939 in McPherson, Kansas.  She grew up in Ottawa, Kansas with dreams of becoming a ballet dancer. In high school Judith met and later married Byron Mohr.  At the age of 27, while raising 4 small children on the farm, she attended college and earned a Bachelors of Political Science degree from Ottawa University (1970).
Continuing her education, she achieved a Masters of Public Administration from Kansas University (1973), and was an ABD (all but dissertation) Doctorate of Public Administration, University of Georgia.
A pioneer herself, she encouraged other women to enter the Public Administration field.  Judith spent many years working as a consultant providing professional and organizational development training to local governments and private organizations.  She served as Associate Director of the Institute of Public Affairs and Community Development at Kansas University, Assistant Director of Governmental Training at the University of Georgia’s Institute of Government, and with the International City Managers Association.
Judith was a member of the community oriented policing team, which conducted training to over 600 staff from 130 jurisdictions.  She provided many articles to professional journals, and served as the Sedona representative for NACOG from 1994-2000 chairing many committees and local studies.
A testament to her strength of character, Judith endured several hardships in the late 70’s. A divorce, the death of her youngest son David at 18, and a near death car accident that left her in a body cast for a year forcing her to learn to walk again.  During those years, Judith became more spiritually aware and developed a firm belief in the power of the human spirit and its ability to overcome adversity.
Happiness returned in 1981 when she married ICMA Director and long time colleague, Mark E. Keane.  Still recovering from her accident, Judith moved from Georgia to Washington, D.C. to begin a new chapter in her life. She welcomed 7 new family members into her life, Mark’s children.  A few years later she and Mark retired to Sedona, AZ.
After settling in Sedona, Judith worked for the City of Sedona as the Quality Improvement Coordinator and continued with her consulting work. She was well known as a voice for community building, and a leader in the development of rational public policy. She served on the Sedona City Council from 1996-2000 and Vice Mayor from 1998-2000. In addition, she was a founding board member and 2nd President of Sedona Women. In 2000, the Red Rock News honored her as Sedona’s Citizen of the Year. 
She served on the Verde Valley Medical Center Board of Directors, and facilitated many local forums addressing the needs of the community she loved. In 2003 she became a member of the Daughter’s of the American Revolution.
After 32 years of marriage, Mark passed away in 2013. In the fall of 2015, Judith seeking adventure and travel, sold her home, put everything in storage, and embarked on a 5 month European trip. She stayed mostly in Hostels traveling from country to country, and making up her journey as she went along. She returned in March of 2016 and settled in Prescott.
Judith will be remembered fondly for the “special gifts” she demonstrated throughout her life. Her unyielding love of family and friends, tenacity, and positive outlook, Judith always exuded style and class in every facet of her life.  Within her profession, she worked tirelessly and was highly respected as an effective leader whose positive demeanor, and innate ability to unify people and causes, enabled community consensus on often-divisive issues.
Judith is survived by children Mark Mohr (Trudy), Nancy Mohr-Helfinstine (Scott), Monty Mohr (Tracy), Dennis Keane (Joan), Brian Keane (Veronica), Mary Keane- Vilter (Paul), Peter Keane, Barry Keane (Sophia), a brother Phil Whirley (Doris) and sister Sharon Wadsworth and many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

OHS 1957 FOOTNOTE: Judith Whirley Mohr Keane was inducted into the Ottawa High School Wall of Fame in 2004.  She was the first member of the OHS Class of 1957 class to be so honored.  Gary Hornbuckle was inducted in 2007, Lynda Igel Conner in 2008, Mike Shaughnessy and Morgan Williams were inducted in 2010. 

Katie Lynch, 99, of Fort Collins, passed away Tuesday, March 21, 2017, leaving a legacy built on the belief in the goodness of all people and the desire to make the world a better place. With kindness, encouragement, curiosity, and undaunted faith, Katie modeled the life well-lived.

Kathryn Marie Proffitt Lynch (Katie) was born September 12, 1917, in Western Missouri, to Vallie and Frank Proffitt. She will be remembered for many things – being the only girl playing trombone in high school, baking scrumptious pies, teaching high school students the fine art of typing, riding a motorcycle with her son at age 90, walking with a quick step in brightly colored shoes, and supporting Poudre High School’s athletic and music programs. Most of all Katie will be remembered for teaching those around her to look for the good in life and in all people.

Growing up in Kansas during the Depression taught Katie the meaning of “frugal,” though she spoke only of good times and friends. From a young age, Katie enjoyed music, singing and playing the piano. At Ottawa High School Katie sang in choruses and played the trombone in orchestra and band while her best friend and sister Colene, played clarinet. 

She met her lifelong partner, Joe Lynch, at Ottawa University; they married on December 28, 1938. Joe and Katie raised their children, Sharon Weaver and Ron Lynch in Kansas and Colorado where Joe was a teacher and administrator. In 1961, Katie joined Joe in the education field, teaching in Holyoke, Sterling, Denver, and in Fort Collins at Blevins Junior High and Poudre High. 

Throughout their lives the Lynches created a welcoming home where food, fun, counsel, and friendship were always ready. Together they canned vegetables and fruit; Katie made pies, freezing them to have one always on hand for company, and she always made sure to have peanuts and red hots for snacking. The couple shared their gift of hospitality with Colorado State University families from around the world. They traveled throughout the United States and toured Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. On any given weekend, Katie was known to hold cookie baking parties for her “adopted grandchildren” and young friends; she made quilts for family and friends and always had time to sit on the back patio swing to listen. After Joe passed away, Katie continued her active life serving as the editor of The Parkwood Estates newsletter and the director of the residents’ Sing-a-long. Clearly, Katie was not one to sit idly.

Perhaps Katie’s own words, written at age 87, give the most accurate insight into how she instilled optimism in others:
“Joe and I always knew we’d be in touch with our dearest friends from our previous hometowns, and that has been true. We felt we were making our next move with the assurance that it was what we were meant to do. We looked forward to making new friends, meeting new challenges, and finding a new church family. Not only did we find new challenges in each new place we lived, but we found new endeavors. Joe and I had a wonderful life!” 
Katie is survived by daughter Sharon Weaver (Elmer DeBruin) of Fort Collins; son Ron (Deb) of Minnesota, grandsons Michael Lynch and David Lynch, and numerous family and friends. Preceding Katie in death are her parents Frank and Vallie Proffitt, her sister Colene Proffitt, and brother Charles Proffitt. 
Katie was a long-time member of the American Baptist Church in Fort Collins.

The family is most grateful for care given Katie by Tami Meurer, Nurse Practitioner and friend and also by the staff at Brookdale Assisted Living.

A Celebration of Katie's Life will be held Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. at the American Baptist Church, 600 S. Shields, Fort Collins on what would have been her 100th Birthday. Guests are invited to honor Katie by wearing the bright colors that Katie so loved. 

Memorial contributions can be made to the American Baptist Church, Fort Collins; the Lynch Family Scholarship, Poudre School District Foundation in care of Bohlender Funeral Chapel, 121 W. Olive St., Fort Collins, CO 80524. Friends may send condolences to the family at
Terry (Ottawa - '92) has accepted the position of Gifted Teacher and Head Girl's Basketball Coach at Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, KS. Terry and his wife Susan (Ottawa - '97) live in Louisburg, KS and have two sons, Treiy (22) and Kai (17).

James Edward Douglas, 89, passed away on April 20, 2017 at Providence Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas.
James was born on November 17, 1927, in Fairmount Township, Leavenworth County, Kansas. Son of Oscar Lee and Myrtle Mae Zoll Douglas.
He was known as 'Jim' by all who knew him. He attended Jefferson Grade School and Lansing High School, graduating in 1946. Naturally athletic, he participated in various sports throughout his teenage
years but no sport held his heart like basketball. His childhood dream of being a coach lead him to Ottawa University where he earned degrees in Secondary Education and Coaching, while winning awards in basketball and track.

Jim served in the Marine Corps from 1951 to 1953. He served as a Second Lieutenant in the Korean War and though it  took him many years to  speak of  his in-country service, he was awarded the Bronze Star for Combat Valor, the Korean Service Medal and the United Nations Service Medal. After his honorable discharge from the Marines, Jim moved to Utica, Kansas and began a coaching career that would span almost forty years .
While in Utica, he met and married Beverly Ann Stewart on May 23, 1954. This proved to be the love of his life - they were lookine forward to their 63rd wedding anniversary.
Jim went to classes in the summer months for Health and Physical Education at Emporia State Teachers College, Emporia, KS. His Master's Degree was granted in August, 1956. Jim coached basketball and track in six high schools in KS: Utica, Fontana, Louisburg, Paola, Hoisington and Kansas City (Wyandotte HS).

Son, Shelby Bryan Douglas was born December 16, 1956 in Paola, KS. Daughter Karla Ann Douglas was born March 2, 1958 in Paola, KS.

In 1964 Jim became the head basketball coach, assistant track coach and taught classes at Pratt Community College, Pratt, KS for 10 years.  This was an experience that defined much of his life, bringing an induction into the school ' s Athletic Hall of Fame as the winningest coach in the school's history (a record that is unlikely to fall.)
In 1975 Jim went to Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, KS. He was assistant basketball coach and track and taught classes for there 15 years.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Lee (June) and Ben, his sisters Wilma Kenny and Norma Elling, and nephews Stephen L. and Richard Lee (Rick) Douglas.
Survivors include Jim's wife Beverly, son Sheiby Bryan and wife Corky Corcoran Douglas, daughter Karla Ann Douglas  and grandchildren Meaghan  Christine  and Ian Christopher  Douglas. 

Funeral services will be held at Charter Funeral Homes in Merriam, KS on Wednesday, May 3rd• Visitation begins at 10am with the funeral service at 11am. Burial will be at Sunset Memory Gardens in Leavenworth, KS. Military honors will be rendered by the Kansas National Guard .
Family and friends are invited to donate in Memoriam to the Boy's & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City.
Richard "Mike" Ahrens, '57, died March 17, 2017, in Marshfield, Missouri. He retired from his independent insurance agency in 1997. Virginia Turner Ahrens survives, along with their three sons, two daughters-in-law, six grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.


Kansas City, Kansas, Deputy Police Chief Tyrone A. Garner is a 2011 Ottawa University graduate.

Garner Selected for Vacant KCKCC Board Position:

Missouri Woman’s First Date Ends with Her Saving the Man’s Life: ‘He Asked for a Second Date’

“When I sat across from him, he looked like the perfect picture of health,” Hall says of her date who suddenly collapsed

Quick action saves man’s life at Cheesecake Factory on the ...

A couple were on a first date at The Cheesecake Factory on the Country Club Plaza when he suddenly collapsed to the floor. The woman credits the restaurant ...
Ottawa University graduate Lydia D'Ross '00 has been busy.
Attached are some articles and attachments that will inspire Ottawa undergraduates to continue to pursue their passion in any field that they are in.
Recently, Lydia D'Ross has been awarded an honorary degree for her humanitarian work.  She also received an Ambassador "Golden Rule" award from United Nations representative Dr. Clyde Rivers of Interfaith Building Initiatives. She was appointed as Chief Adviser of Global Latin America that oversees 18 Latin nations. In addition, she continues to oversee 50 state leaders as the National Hispanic Director for the United States National Prayer Council.
Recently, Dr. D'Ross was elected as Oklahoma State Republican Committee Woman that oversees 22 counties out of 77.
She has pioneered numerous projects and founded numerous non-profit organizations.
For the past ten years, D'Ross serves on the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference  board of directors of the largest Hispanic membership of 500k,  and serves with Dr. Samuel Rodriquez, Dr. Carlos Campo and many others.

Dr. Lydia Gonzalez-D'Ross also serves an appointee of the Oklahoma Senate on the Oklahoma Women of Status Commission and will be speaking at the Oklahoma Woman Hall of Fame this week.
D'Ross was tapped to serve for US House Speaker Newt Gingrich on the National Hispanic Advisory Board and also served as Donald J. Trump Hispanic Media as His presidential campaign media surrogate.
D'Ross hold many national leadership positions and has been a voice for spiritual care in mental health for Brook Haven Hospital in Tulsa, OK as an Outreach Chaplain and devotional blog writer for the hospital.
Recipient of numerous awards: Just to name a few
  • 2016  Ambassador, United Nations
  • 2014 Tulsa Leaque of Women Voters " Madam President" award
  • 2014 Tulsa Business and Legal News
  • 2014 Governor Fallin Proclamation for pioneering "Hispanic Youth Council"

News Article - Dr. Rodgers leaving Hutchinson Clinic for Sterling company developing cancer drugs.

The reflections of four Bettis sisters, all OU alumni, are captured on the surface of the eternal flame outside the new library/student union in March 2017. The four sisters were all on campus to reminisce on their college days and tour the campus. L-R: Julie Bettis Currier 1976 (Overland Park KS), Carla Bettis Timberlake 1974 (Overland Park KS), Sheri Bettis Fowler 1989 (Austin TX), Gloria Bettis Shryock 1975 (Colorado Springs CO)

FAB 4 On Steps of Tauy Jones

Larger disasters 'inevitable,' says new Natural Hazards Center director Lori Peek
Article from University of Colorado Newsletter
Steve Wilhoft was awarded the Drug Prosecutor of the Year Award by the Kansas Narcotics Officer's Association at their annual conference on March 8, 2017. Steve has been an Assistant Kansas Attorney General since 2007 and he serves as lead drug prosecutor for the Kansas Attorney General's Office. Prior to 2007 Steve was elected to two terms as the Labette County, Kansas County Attorney in 2000 and in 2004 after being in private practice for several years in Parsons, Kansas.

Rev. Tom Arbogast obituary.  He was a 1959 graduate of Ottawa University.

Kemith H. Thompson '82 is appointed Executive Director of Operations for Clayton County Public Schools,the 5th largest school district in Georgia located outside of Atlanta. His responsibilities include leading bus operations, food service, construction of new schools, maintenance and warehousing, and athletics-stadium operations.

Prior to his appointment as head of Operations at CCPS, he was an Academic Dean for Atlanta Technical College where he developed new programming in Supply Chain Management and Commercial Truck Driving. Under his leadership, the school became a beneficiary of corporate support that created a Logistics Center for various academic programming in Logistics and Warehousing.
Since graduating from Ottawa University, he has held various management positions at General Electric Company, Brown & Williamson Tobacco, RJ Reynolds,and Streamlite, Inc.
He has a passion for serving his community and mentoring the next generation of African­ American business leaders.
Dorothy L. Lynn of Topeka passed away on Thursday, February 23, 2017. She was born December 16, 1923 at Linwood, Kansas the daughter of Lee and Mina Dent Brannock.   She graduated from Linwood Rural High School in 1941. She later attended Ottawa University, graduating with a degree in Elementary Education in 1965. She last taught at Appanoose Grade School.   She was a member of Town and Country Christian Church, AARP, and the Order of the Eastern Star at Williamsburg. She was a member of Quenemo Baptist Church many years. As a adult she lived at Pomona, Burlington, and near Homewood in Franklin County.

She married Kenneth A. Lynn on December 12, 1943 in Missouri.   He preceded her in death on October 5, 1970.  She is survived by her brother, Ronald and Evelyn Brannock of Topeka.  Three sisters, Helen Kraus, infant sister, Nellie Dean and infant sister, Edna Maxine precede her.

Graveside services will be Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Pomona.   Davidson Funeral Home in Topeka is assisting with her arrangements.