Alumni News & Notes

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I wanted to let you know about my Dad’s passing that happened about two weeks ago on Easter Sunday.  I believe he was in the class of 1960.  He and my Mom, Suzanne Rumminger, met and married at OU.  Bill Sheeder was sophomore class representative, Student Council President, Student Manager, and voted Mr. OU.  He was also part of a campus singing group (among other activities).  I have photos of Dad when he was on campus if that would be helpful to you.  I am attaching Dad's obituary as well as a b&w headshot taken while he was an OU student.  

Lynn Claunch
Daughter of William Sheeder
305 505-4043

University of Miami (FL) article
Michelle was named the Director of Human Resources for Spring Hill USD 230. She begins the job on July 1, 2018. Michelle has been an elementary school administrator for the past 14 years in the Spring Hill School District and taught in both the Spring Hill and Louisburg School Districts prior to her administration career. Michelle lives in Olathe, Kansas with her husband and children.
Albert Lester "Butch" Lewis, Class of 1961, BAHOF Inductee passed away on February 22nd in Mesa, Arizona.   Dr. Al Lewis was Director of Atheletics at Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa for 18 years until he retired. He is survived by his wife Deanna and two sons, Brad and Blake.

Albert Lester "Butch" Lewis obituary

Storm Lake Tribune article

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