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Dr. Norman J. Hudak
Jan. 24, 1933 – March 10, 2023
Born in Lorain, Ohio, Norman J. Hudak graduated with high distinction from DePauw University and earned a Ph. D. from Cornell University in 1959. He taught at Oberlin College and Haverford College before coming to Willamette University in 1961. At Willamette he taught organic chemistry for 37 years before retiring in 1998. He was a founding member of the Willamette University chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. He was a member of the American Chemical Society and of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society. He was proud of his Slovak heritage and was a member of the First Catholic Slovak Union. He was a founding member of Queen of Peace parish where he had served as Chair of the Education Commission and as President of the Parish Council. After his retirement, he and his wife Mary Jo moved to Capital Manor Retirement community where he enjoyed his life there where they made many long-lasting friendships.
A devoted and loving husband, father and grandfather, he is survived by his wife, Mary Jo, whom he married in 1963; daughters Lisa (Chuck) Martin, Salem, Ann (Tony) Echavia, Pleasanton, California, and Carol (Gregg) Young, Novato, California; brother Gregory (Sue) Hudak, Austin, Texas and grandchildren Katie, Michael and Christina Echavia, and Samantha Young.
George S. McCowen, Jr.
Jan. 22, 1935 – Dec. 15, 2022
George S. McCowen, Jr. died peacefully on December 15, 2022, with his family around him. He was born January 22, 1935, in Macon, Georgia, the child of Doris Horne McCowen and George Smith McCowen. George grew up in Macon until he attended the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. There, he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received his BA degree in 1957. He studied at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where he earned his Ph.D. in history, with related studies in philosophy and literature, in 1966.
Professor McCowen taught history at Willamette University in Salem, OR for thirty-three years, following five years of teaching at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. At Willamette, he served as chair of the history department and later in an endowed chair as the E. Jerry Whipple Professor of History. George’s field of expertise was Early American history and American intellectual history. He retired in 2000 and later moved to Gresham, Oregon.
George married Gail Elizabeth Boden of Seattle, Washington on June 23, 1962. Celebrating 60 years of marriage in 2022, they were best friends and a daily joy to one another. They had two children: Duncan Green McCowen, who died in 2011, and Cecily Elizabeth Gray. Their grandchildren are Mallory, Caden, and Lucy McCowen, and Erin and Tommy Gray.
George especially enjoyed reading, gardening, and traveling. He was a very gentle and caring man who did not speak unkindly of anyone. He is survived by his wife Gail, Cecily and Michael Gray, daughter-in-law Holly McCowen, and his grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him. A memorial service is planned for late January.
Bruce A. Bigler
Oct. 1, 1934 – Jan. 24, 2022
Bruce Bigler was born in Akron, Ohio. He was enlisted in the US Navy from 1953-1973 where he retired as a Master Chief. After moving back to Salem, Bigler worked as a physical plant manager for The State of Oregon and then worked for Willamette University until he retired in 1989. Bruce loved fishing, camping, gardening, church and his family. He is survived by his wife, Monnaa; and his children, Becky Flores, Wendy Kihm, and Stephen Bigler.
1933 – 2021
Pyron studied at Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, and the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Munich, receiving a masters degree and doctorate in cello performance from the University of Southern California. She served on the music faculty at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, in addition to being a member of the Portland Symphony for two and a half years.Pyron was a leading researcher of the early history of the cello. Her research took her to museums and libraries across Europe. Nona is survived by her adopted grandson, Erik Rodkey, and his family; and by Zandra Hanson’s daughters, Suzy Staulz and Nancy Scott; her adopted granddaughter, Larissa Fedoryka; cousin Marc Turner.
George Marc Choate
Oct. 7, 1939 – Sept. 11, 2020
G. Marc Choate was born in Seattle. He earned his bachelor's, master's and a doctor of philosophy degree from the University of Washington before going on to a career as an educator. In 1974, he began teaching at the then new Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette and served the school as a faculty member for 30 years, retiring in 2004. As Emeritus Professor of Finance and Business Economics, his research and teaching focused on healthcare financial management. Survivors include his wife, Dulce Virata-Choate MM’79; children, Carrie, Casey and Martha (Choate) Monson ’07; and siblings, Doug and Mari Edith.
Frances Jean Whipple
Jan. 14, 1926 – March 1, 2023
A graduate of Oakland High School and Oregon State University with a degree in home economics, she and her future husband, Jerry, taught high school together at Springfield High School in Oregon. They were married in 1949, until his death in 1991. Together they raised three children, contributed immeasurably to their Salem community, and shared their love and wise counsel with countless students attending Willamette University.
She is survived by her children, Ed BA'74 and Cindy Whipple, Joan BS'75 JD'79 and Dennis BS'72 JD'79 Reese and Sue and Roger Hefty; her nieces, Carol Whipple and Meredith Compton; her grandchildren, Luke JD'07 and Kelsey Reese, Scott Reese and Jessie Stroud, Sara Hefty, Joanna and Noah Libby, John and Katelyn Whipple; and her great-grandchildren, Cooper and Caroline Reese and Parker and Clay Libby. She also leaves behind numerous other nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, great-great nieces and nephews and cousins too numerous to count. Jean lived a long, full, and meaningful life.
May 13, 1930 – Feb. 14, 2022
Following graduation from Cleveland High School, Barbara attended Fairmont Casements School for Young Women in Ormond Beach, Florida, and married John (Jack) Columbus on Sept. 15, 1951. The couple raised sons John Jr., Ronald and David in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, before moving to Salem, Oregon, in 1978 to pursue their dream of living on the West Coast.
Following Jack’s death in 1989, Barbara enjoyed a career in food service at Willamette University’s Goudy Commons, where she ran the salad bar and befriended many students, staff, and elected officials from the nearby Oregon State Capitol.
She is survived by her sons John (Clare) and David Columbus; granddaughter Jenn Columbus (Alex Paraskevas); and grandson Michael Columbus. She was preceded in death by husband Jack; son Ron Columbus; and daughter in-law Linda Columbus.
Janene J. Allman
Oct. 20, 1942 – Oct. 9, 2022
Janene was the WU cashier for about 30 years and affectionately called "The Candy Lady in Waller Hall". She served on the Classified Council as an officer, and organized and oversaw the project for The Gala of Trees that supports the Boys and Girls Aid Society in Salem. Janene created numerous centerpieces for monthly WU employee luncheons and events over many years. Many fondly referred to Janene as "The Candy Lady in Waller Hall" because she always had candy at her cashier's window. Some came for the candy, many others loved taking the opportunity to chat. She cheerfully gave her time with a huge smile and a warm heart. Janene was always eager to serve and was chosen WU Employee of the Year in 2000.
Janene is survived by her husband of 60 years, Russ Allman; two sons, Scott and Jeff ('98); and a granddaughter, Mia.