Alumni News & Notes

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Jack Niel Pyle, of Littleton, Colorado went to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Monday evening, September 10, 2018 after a long battle suffering the complications of diabetes. He was 88 years of age.  He passed from this life to the next surrounded by the love and care of his immediate family in his home around 7:00 in the evening MST. Jack was the second-born of a set of twins born on April 9, 1930 to Henry Talmadge and Iva Mae Simpson Pyle at St. Anthony’s hospital in Sabetha, Kansas. His family resided on a farm near Hamlin, Kansas.

Jack loved farming and farmed with his family until he was 26 when he believed God called him to the ministry.  In pursuit of this call, he attended Ottawa University where he met his wife, Glenda Kay Steele Pyle, and they were married on April 20, 1960.  Through the guidance of the Lord and the counsel of his professors at Ottawa, God’s call to ministry was confirmed as a call to teach and mentor children.  As a result, Jack pursued a full-time teaching career. Jack student taught elementary school in Ottawa, Kansas at Garfield Elementary. In January of 1961, he was employed teaching fifth and sixth grades in Paola, Kansas. Fall semester of 1961, he began teaching sixth grade at Wilmot Elementary in Evergreen, Colorado and moved to Bear Creek Elementary to do the same in 1973. He concluded his 40 years of teaching by substituting in the district. Jack had such an impact on his students that he regularly heard from them as adults regarding his unique and special influence on their lives.

Jack had many accomplishments as a teacher.  He was nominated as Teacher of the Year in Colorado a few times, and was listed among the Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. For three years in a row, he led his class to win a National Geographic map contest at the county and state levels, making it to nationals each time, and receiving honorable mention the final year.

Additionally, Jack was an avid reader and read aloud regularly to his children around the dinner table, as well as to his classes. Each year he taught, he and his students wrote letters to various authors including Ralph Moody and his mother, Sterling North, Wilson Rawls, and Alan Eckert.  Through many of his teaching strategies, he fostered a love for learning and an appreciation of God’s creation in every life he touched.

Jack also coached and mentored many young boys including his own sons, Kevin and Henry, from little league to high school ages in many sports including football, soccer, basketball, and baseball, and young women in track.  Many of his former team members have continued to stay in touch with him, and even use the coaching tactics they learned under his leadership in their own coaching aspirations.

Jack was, first and foremost a Bible believing Christian who esteemed the Bible as God’s final authority for every aspect of life.  His greatest desire was to glorify God in all things and diligently led his family by these truths. This heart for the Lord, for family, and for other people was regularly displayed through his eager hospitality and welcoming spirit.   He treasured all family, was a lifetime friend to many, and modeled committed, lasting relationships throughout his life.

Other ways  that Jack expressed his love for Christ was by sharing God’s Word through the ministry of Gideon’s International for approximately 20 years distributing bibles to hospitals, hotels, schools, and people in need during his retirement.  During part of this ministry, he served as president of the Columbine chapter of the Gideon’s for the term allowed. He also generously supported many Christian missionaries and ministries throughout his life and has purposed for that ministry to continue even in his death.  His first and foremost passion was for everyone he knew or met to encounter a living and active relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jack was preceded in death by his mother, Iva Mae Simpson Pyle, his father, Henry Talmadge Pyle, his oldest brother, Kenneth Pyle, his older sister, Thelma Pyle Scheape, and his younger brother, John Pyle.  His beloved twin sister, JoAnne Pyle McKee of Salina, Kansas survives.

Jack was also preceded in death by three grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Jack is survived by his beloved wife of 58 years, Glenda Kay Steele Pyle, and by all of their children, Annette (Roger), Kevin (Sharon), Henry (Brenda), and Valerie (Blake).   In addition, Jack is survived by 15 grandchildren, the spouses of those who are married, and 13 great grandchildren.

Please join us for the Celebration Service in honor of Jack on Monday, September, 17, 2018 at Ken Caryl Church 8395 W. Ken Caryl Ave. Littleton, CO  80128. *(10:00 AM Visitation - 11:00 AM Celebration Service followed by a church luncheon for friends and family.) 3:00 PM Internment at Montview Cemetery, Bennett, Colorado.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to:  Gideon’s International Denver Columbine Camp PO Box 1742 Littleton, CO  80150-1742


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!