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clemons starckCLEMENS "CLEM" STARCK died at his home outside Dallas, Oregon on March 21, 2024, due to complications from mesothelioma.

Starck was born in Rochester, New York, November 30, 1937. An accomplished poet and dedicated autodidact scholar, Starck dropped out of Princeton in 1958 and continued his education on the road, riding freight trains and working at a variety of jobs.

Regarding his poetry, The New York Times wrote, "Clemens Starck is an essential plain-spoken poet of work," and Starck had many jobs from which to draw inspiration: ranch hand in eastern Oregon, a newspaper reporter on Wall Street, a door-to-door salesman, and a merchant seaman. For over twenty years he worked construction up and down the West Coast, as a union carpenter on projects of all kinds, from bridge work in San Francisco and Oregon to custom homes in British Columbia. As a long-time maintenance carpenter at Oregon State University in Corvallis, he was known for his skill at repairing windows and doors.

Starck was a dynamic presenter of his poetry, giving readings to diverse audiences throughout the Western United States and in Europe. His first book, Journeyman's Wages (Story Line Press,1995), published when he was 58, received the Oregon Book Award for Poetry and the William Stafford Memorial Poetry Award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. He is also credited with being the inspiration for the founding of the annual FisherPoets Gathering in Astoria, Oregon.

A lifelong lover of languages, he began intensive study of Russian in his early 60s. He traveled to the collapsed Soviet Union twice, serving as the chaperone for Willamette University exchange students. These travels served as inspiration for his second book, Studying Russian on Company Time (Silverfish Review Press, 1999). He went on to publish four more books of poetry, all of which were gathered in Cathedrals & Parking Lots: Collected Poems, published in 2019 by Empty Bowl Press. His poems have been widely anthologized and appeared in the syndicated column "American Life in Poetry." Garrison Keillor read several of Starck's poems on National Public Radio.

Starck was also a passionate film scholar and he watched thousands of eccentric and hard-to-find films. He was especially interested in film noir, silent film, pre-code movies, and Iranian and African films.When he became curious about a specific actor or director, Clem would acquire all their available films on DVD, and then watch the entire oeuvre in chronological order.

In his final weeks, Starck enjoyed the presence and care of his three grown children, Rachel, Daniel, and Deborah, and received a steady stream of friends and family traveling from around the Northwest to pay their respects. He worked to complete a final manuscript of poems, Enjoying the Evening: Last Poems, sent it off to his publisher, and lived to receive the first copy, which gave him enormous satisfaction. He was lucid and in good humor to the end, his remarkable life culminating in a good death.

He is survived by his children, Rachel Starck (spouse Gregory Smith), Daniel Starck, Deborah Pruitt; grandchildren, Amanda Pruitt, Benjamin Pruitt, Alexander Smith, and Zoe Smith; sister Juanita Rodriquez, sisters-in-law Ginger Starck, Jan Glenn, brother-in-law Tom Juster, nephews Edilberto Rodriguez, David Juster, and nieces Maria Rodriguez, Marguerite Rodriguez, and Juanita A Rodriguez.

He was pre-deceased by his wife Barbara Starck (2012), brother David Starck (2023), brother in law Edilberto Rodriquez Sr (1987), nephew Michael Glenn (2022), and son-in-law Jade Pruitt (2022).

A memorial gathering for Clem Starck will be held in Corvallis on Saturday, May 25, 3-5 pm at the Rotary Shelter in Willamette Park. Friends are invited to come and share Clem's poems and stories about his life.

Joan Patterson
1931 - April 5, 2024

Joan Patterson (nee Alice Joan Fitts) was born in Oregon’s Willamette Valley in 1931. She spent her childhood on the farm, feeding the ducks, decorating the pony, and cuddling kittens and puppies. In 1950 she took the train to Fort Worth, Texas, where she attended Texas Christian University. In 1955 she graduated with a double major in Social Work and Religion, and what she jokingly referred to as her “MRS. Degree”—she was engaged to be married to John Patterson, a seminary student from Illinois.

Being a preacher’s wife with four young children kept Joan running at full-tilt for many years. Another place at the table could always be set for John’s colleague, a child’s friend, or a stranger in need. The refrigerator door, like the front door, opened easily. At various times she played the piano or organ for church, directed children’s choirs and Christmas pageants, taught Sunday School, distributed surplus groceries, delivered meals on wheels, hosted parties and chaperoned camping trips for youth groups. Her children grew up mostly in clothes that she made herself, and they fell asleep to her nightly piano practice: Chopin, Debussy, Bach, Mendelson, and hymns for Sunday.

With the first three children in elementary school, Joan returned to college in 1967 to complete a teaching certificate. This began a long career in teaching, beginning with second graders. Soon she specialized in helping children who had difficulty learning to read. She approached this work with her characteristic curiosity, tenacity and openness to new ideas. Children in Southern Iowa, South Dakota and North central Illinois were taught to read, and write by Mrs. Patterson. In 1981 she took a break from children to administer the Yellow Bird Senior’s Center in Oregon, Illinois for 2 years. In 1982 she received her Certificate in Special Education from Northern Illinois University, and she went on to teach for another decade before retiring.

Joan and John spent their lives in the rural Midwest: Bethany, Illinois (1959-1962), Albia, Iowa (1962-1965), Humeston, Iowa (1965-1971), Platte, South Dakota (1971-1982), Oregon, Illinois (1982-1990), and Freeport, Illinois (1990-1995) before retiring to Yankton, South Dakota. Joan moved to Vermillion, South Dakota after the death of her husband John in 2004.

Joan’s greatest pride was her children. Her children return the complement: we are all immensely proud of, and grateful for our mother. She taught us the values of kindness, fair play, listening to all sides of a story, and wondering at the beauty of the world around us. She taught us to respect the dignity of every person, and to never embarrass someone who was in need of kindness. She taught us to take care of the natural world, and to read every historical marker along a road trip. Mostly, she wanted us to remember to “be curious”— to welcome new learning to the very end of life.

Joan never stopped learning even as she did a long slow dance with Parkinson’s Disease that lasted over 30 years. In her late years she was a model of courage and grace in the face of tremendous adversity.

Dr. Allan Linh

With sincere sympathy for our colleague, Briana Lindh, Continuing Instructor of Biology, we sadly report that her father, Dr. Allan Linh died on March 15. After a decline due to lung disease, Allan died at home with his family. Briana shared that her father “lived out his nine lives, being a rootless beatnik, then a Dad and seismologist for the USGS, and finally focusing on his meditation practice. I remember him when I work with wood, when I pet dogs and when I watch wildlife.” Let us extend our condolences to Briana and her family for their loss.


Mimi A. McNicholas
November 30, 1945 - October 14, 2023

Mimi Ann McNicholas of Salem passed away on Oct. 14, 2023, no doubt appreciating the artistic flair of an annular solar eclipse to mark her passing.

 Born on Nov. 30, 1945, to Erling Struxness and Katherine Orwoll Struxness (later Katherine Friday), she spent most of her childhood in Kansas and Minnesota. Mimi had an open and unprotected heart that never quite learned to heal and would ultimately fail her.  When times were hard, she found solace in her limitless imagination. 

She saw the best in others but too often doubted her own worth.  She gave the best hugs and believed in second chances.  She was a voracious reader and dreamer, with a natural immunity to pragmatism.  She leaves behind her daughter Erin, her grandsons Tygh and Teagan, her brother Erik, her twin sister Mari, her ex-husband Mike, and a house full of stretched canvases that she will never paint.

Tyrone Williams
February 24, 1954 - March 11, 2024

Tyrone Williams, age 70 of Anderson Township, died on March 11, 2024. He was the first child and only son of the Late Eddie and Callie Williams. He was a quiet, reserved, and thoughtful son, brother, uncle, friend, and mentor. Tyrone was born at Metropolitan Hospital in Detroit, Michigan on February 24, 1954. He attended Crosman and Roosevelt Elementary, Durfee Junior High and Central High Schools. Tyrone completed his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in English at Wayne State University.
In 1983, he began teaching English at Xavier University, leaving Xavier to go back to Wayne State and complete his doctorate, and then returning to Xavier, achieving the rank of Professor. His first chapbook of poetry was published in 1987.
From 2000-2006, he served as Chair of the Xavier English Department. During his long career, he taught a wide variety of courses, specializing in African-American Literature, Modern American Literature, Literary Theory, and Creative Writing.
In 2023, he retired from Xavier and became the David Gray Chair of Poetry and Letters in the English Department of the University of Buffalo, one of the most prestigious academic positions in poetry in the country.
Tyrone is the author of eight full-length volumes of poetry, and numerous critical articles and reviews. He traveled extensively, giving poetry readings at venues across the country, as well as important critical papers at many academic conferences. An important figure in the poetry community, judging prizes and editing various publications, he was beloved and admired by his contemporaries, and a mentor to many younger poets. For more information, visit his website at
Tyrone was also a founding member of the Winton Community Free Methodist Church since 1986, after joining their Bible study in 1983. He filled many roles including delegate and pulpit supply. His favorite memory of church was teaching Vacation Bible School.
Tyrone was preceded in death by his loving wife Elizabeth Ann (Liz) Hamilton and parents Eddie and Callie Marshall Williams. He leaves behind sisters Jacqueline Brooks, Wanda Willliams-Gee, and Andrea Martin (Darryl) as well as five nieces and nephews Damon Williams, Shaticka Brooks, Jordan Gee, Chelsea Martin, and Camryn Gee and three great-nephews Damani Pruitt, Larone Mills, and Jayce Sparks.

Daniel Montague
December 28, 2023

Sadly we are reporting the death on December 28 of a distinguished and dedicated former member of the Willamette community, Daniel Montague. Daniel served as a professor of physics emeritus from 1969-2000 and was named the Oregon Professor of the Year in 1995. Among his many endeavors, Dan was the university’s Marshal for many years. He also began an internship with Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, in which several Willamette physics students participated for many years. Dan moved to Washington state to be near his sons and their families in the fall of 2023 after his wife’s passing earlier that year. Dan will be missed by all who knew him.


Professor Paule Drayton
April 30, 1926  -  April 8, 2022

 Professor Paule Drayton was born and raised in Paris, France.  While in high school, as the German army marched toward Paris in mid-June 1940, Paule and her mother managed to catch the last train heading south out of Paris.   When France surrendered to Germany shortly after, the French army was disbandedPaule’s father rejoined them in the Massif Central, and the family returned to occupied Paris.  During the years of Nazi occupation, Paule successfully passed her high school baccalaureate exam and began university studies at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, known as Sciences Po, where she studied political science and pre-law. 

 After the D-Day Landing in Normandy in June 1944, she met her future husband Lloyd Drayton (from Nebraska), who was in the U.S. Army Air Corps while he was stationed in Paris.  At the end of the war, Lloyd, then stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany, returned to Paris before returning to the U.S.  In 1947, Paule and her parents, Elisabeth and Georges Guindollet, came to Salem, where Paule and Lloyd were married at Lloyd’s parents’ home.  Her parents returned to live in Paris but eventually moved to Salem in 1952. 

 In the U.S., Paule attended Willamette University to earn her BA, and then she earned a master’s degree at the University of Oregon.  Paule began teaching at Willamette University in 1959.  In later years, she completed her doctorate at Middlebury College in Vermont during summer sessions and spent one year in Paris to do research. Her master’s thesis was on Albert Camus, and Doctoral thesis was on André Breton.  Paule Drayton taught both French literature and language at Willamette for 33 years.  She loved teaching and providing her students with an understanding and appreciation of all things French.  When she retired from Willamette in 1993, Paule and Lloyd moved to Seattle, where they enjoyed living near their two daughters and two young grandsons.

 Paule and Lloyd made frequent trips to France over the years.  They also made trips to Alaska, Hawaii, the U.S. Southwest, the Caribbean, Florida, New York and Washington, DC.  During their extensive travels in France, Paule and her husband enjoyed the beauty of the cities, villages and French countryside, and they especially enjoyed a family trip to the Dordogne Valley with their two daughters, two grandsons and son-in law.

 After the passing of her husband Lloyd in 2001, Paule enjoyed living at the University House, a thriving retirement community near the University of Washington, where she made many lasting friends. She continued pursuing many interests, which included voracious reading on all topics, a passion for the cinema and opera, hosting movie nights at her apartment, watching the French TV cable channel, and playing bridge.  She also became an avid Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal tennis fan, enjoyed watching the Seahawks, and above all, spending time with her family.  Paule never lost her love of books, ideas, and learning.

Paule Drayton is survived by her daughters Michelle and Anne, her two grandsons, and son-in-law Ron Bemis.

Christianne StrumChris Strum

Chris was born on September 8, 1953 in Elgin, Illinois. She died on January 13th, 2024, leaving this earth with a gentle sigh, after a ferocious battle with pancreatic cancer. Chris was a light to all who knew her and will be deeply missed by her many friends and extended family.

Chris was raised in Elgin, where she was valedictorian of her high school class. She began undergraduate studies at Augustana College, then transferred to Northwestern University, graduating Summa Cum Lauda with departmental honors and election to Phi Beta Kappa. After graduating, she worked in Chicago for a stock brokerage firm where she became a vice president at age 26.

Chris met her beloved husband, Greg, in December, 1971, when he was invited to join her Christmas caroling group. They eventually settled in Salem in July, 1985. Her next career was as a dedicated stay-at-home mother to sons Michael and Mat, while also taking on many volunteer roles. Chris then returned to the workforce, where for the last ten years of her career she served as Senior Program Coordinator at the Willamette University College of Law.

She is survived by her husband of 46 years, Gregory M. Strum, M.D., son Michael Strum, M.D, daughter in-law Ashley Lundgren Strum, M.D., son Matthew Strum, daughter-in-law Desirae Piter Strum, and grandchildren Nora and Jackson Strum.

Marjorie WillsonMarjorie Willson

Marjorie Wilson, 89, of Silverton, OR, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and friend, passed away peacefully on January 15 into the loving arms of her Savior, Jesus.

Born in Kansas, to James and Kathryn Mosolf, she moved to the Northwest at an early age and grew up in Salem, attending Salem High School and University of Puget Sound. In addition to raising 5 children, Marjorie was active in PTA, and worked at Englewood Elementary School, finishing her career as the Director of Summer Conferences at Willamette University in Salem.

She also enjoyed many hobbies and activities including dancing, sports (particularly baseball), traveling, stamping, reading on her Kindle, and gardening. For Marjorie, family was her love. Having her "chicks" all together and being the hub of activity brought her great joy.

On September 18, 2010,Marjorie married Bob Wilson. They shared their faith and a great love for each other and for family. They passed this love on and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

Marjorie is preceded in death by her son Michael and is survived by her husband Bob and his family as well as her four children, Bill, Jim, Steve and Amy, 11 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.

Warren CooperWarren Cooper

Warren Cooper passed away on December 30, 2023 in Turner, Oregon. He was born on July 17, 1942, in Jackson, Mississippi. Born to Henry Richard Cooper and L. Laurine Harrell Cooper Steverson, Warren was an only child who embarked on a life filled with diverse experiences and cherished moments.

On April 24, 1963, he united his life with Gloria, marking the beginning of a profound partnership. Together, they were blessed with two beloved children, Melinda and Steve, who became the heartbeats of their lives.

Warren's journey was marked by dedicated service. He honorably served four years in the United States Air Force, receiving commendations for his unwavering commitment and sacrifice. Post-military life saw him embrace various professions-a custodian at Willamette University for 22 years, a skilled massage therapist for 19 years, and a compassionate nurses' aide for 17 years at the Oregon State Hospital. \

His interests were as varied as his roles in life. Warren was a man of God, committed to his daily Bible reading. Warren had a passion for growing roses, found solace in live weekend ministries, exhibited a talent for needlework, and found joy in watching old westerns. His knack for fixing things earned him the endearing title of "Mr. Fixit," a testament to his resourcefulness and skills.

Warren is survived by his devoted wife, Gloria Cooper, children Melinda Segerson and Steve Cooper, grandchildren, Katelyn Makous, Asi Olson, Jayden Cooper, Brooke Condit, Jociah Cooper, Hadley Cooper, Elijah Cooper, Damian Cooper, Terrell Parras, Tyson Parras, Trenton Parras; great grandchildren, Lachlan Makous, Hudson Makous, Rowan Makous, Amaya Cooper, Everly Olson. His mother, L. Laurine Steverson, and stepfather, William Steverson, preceded him in death.

Warren Cooper will be remembered for his unwavering dedication, his warmth, and the legacy of love and memories he leaves behind. In our hearts, his spirit will forever resonate-a testament to a life lived with integrity, compassion, and boundless love for family and country.

Justice Edwin Peterson

Edwin J. Peterson, a retired chief justice on the Oregon Supreme Court who oversaw a Justice Edwin Peterson restructuring of the state's circuit courts and helped usher in a controversial free-speech decision that led Oregon to temporarily grant protections to child pornography, died on Dec. 2 in Salem. He was 93.

The controversial 1987 ruling, approved unanimously, threw out the state's obscenity statute on the grounds it violated the free speech provision of the Oregon Constitution.

The decision, State vs. Henry, overturned the conviction of a hardcore pornography retailer in Redmond, led to the invalidation of Portland zoning restrictions on adult businesses such as strip clubs and prompted the state appeals court to extend free-speech protection for child pornography, The Oregonian reported in 1995.

"In this state any person can write, print, read, say, show or sell anything to a consenting adult even though that expression may be generally or universally considered 'obscene,'" the high court wrote in the ruling.

Peterson, who described himself in the 1990s as conservative, expressed discomfort with the ruling but said he was bound by the legal principle of stare decisis, or following precedent. "I don't like the Henry decision," Peterson said in 1995, "but I think it's intellectually honest."'

Its reach didn't stand in its entirety, however. Oregon legislators banned child pornography in 1995, on the basis that it encouraged crimes against children, and the state Supreme Court outlined similar reasoning in 1996 with Justice W. Michael Gillette writing for the majority that the "state's authority to forbid direct harm to children includes the authority to destroy the incentives for causing that harm."

Two attempts to reverse the ruling outright failed, though, including in 1996, when Oregon voters rejected Measure 31. That ballot initiative would have imposed the more restrictive free-speech standards of the U.S. Constitution. Gov. Vic Atiyeh, a Republican, appointed Peterson to the Supreme Court to fill a vacancy in 1979. The Wisconsin-born and University of Oregon-educated lawyer served as chief justice from 1983 to 1991 and retired from the court in 1993.

A black-and-white photo shows Oregon Supreme Court Justice Edwin J. Peterson in 1980, soon after he was appointed to the court by then-Gov. Vic Atiyeh. Peterson later became chief justice. Oregon Supreme Court Justice Edwin J. Peterson is pictured in 1980, soon after he was appointed to the court by then-Gov. Vic Atiyeh. Peterson later became chief justice.Oregonian file photo

During Peterson's time leading the court, he also completed the unglamorous task - assigned by state lawmakers - of unifying the courts in Oregon's 36 counties in a single judicial department, overseen by the chief justice.

Near retirement, Peterson served on a task force that in 1994 identified racial bias in the state court system. It was the first official admission by the state's legal establishment of bias in the courts, a problem that Oregonians of color had decried for years. "I don't say there are judges who are intentionally biased against minorities,'' Peterson said, "but there's a lot of unintended bias that becomes manifested in many ways."

In recent years, Peterson was a distinguished jurist in residence and mentor at Willamette University College of Law and a chess coach at Faye Wright Elementary School in Salem. He also played French horn in the Salem Pops Orchestra, according to the Oregon Judicial Department.

He is survived by his wife, Anna M. Peterson, of Salem, and two grown children. A public service is planned for January 2024.

Virginia Furtwangler, Ph.D.

Virginia W. Furtwangler, a prize-winning author, inspiring teacher, devoted mother, and delightful companion, died on January 1, 2024, at the age of 91. She came to Salem in 1996 as the first Hallie Ford Professor of English at Willamette University, a virginia-furtwangler-headshothigh point in a life of dramatic changes and reinventions.

Ginny was born in Hartford, Connecticut to William and Agnes Walsh, grew up in Waterbury, and attended Catholic schools there. Her father died when she was 13, and she made it through her teens with the support of her resilient mother and brother, Walsh relatives, and close neighbors.

She was active and popular at the College of New Rochelle, a Catholic women’s college in New York, and was elected president of her class and later of the entire student body. She was by turns a popular, diligent student and an independent spirit. A cadet once escorted her to a dance at nearby West Point—and a dean later scolded her for leading a conga line at a dance back on her own campus. She wrote the musical score for a student show. She led classmates down Fifth Avenue on Saint Patrick’s Day in 1954 and was stopped for a brief TV interview. The announcer boldly kissed her as a “pretty Irish colleen” and asked what her plans were after graduation. She replied that she was committed to enter the Ursuline religious order, which she did that July.

As Sister John Bernard (names of two admired saints) she completed an M.A. in English at Catholic University, then taught in Ursuline high schools in Maryland and the Bronx and in college back at New Rochelle. In 1966 she was directed to start graduate work in English literature at Cornell University; with the support of a national Kent Fellowship she completed her Ph.D. in 1970.

She left the Ursuline order in 1967. Later that year she began study sessions with Albert Furtwangler, a fellow graduate student. They struck up a playful conversation that would continue and deepen for over 56 years. They married when he finished his degree, and moved together to Chicago and then to the small college town of Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada, as Al pursued his teaching career. In Sackville, Ginny and Al raised two sons and built a community of friends that endures to this day. A devoted mother, Ginny searched out special instruction and opportunities for each of her sons.

Meanwhile, she taught extension courses and began to write short stories under the pen name Ann Copeland. She eventually published six collections of stories. The Golden Thread was a finalist for the Governor-General’s Award, Canada’s top literary prize, in 1989. She also wrote The ABCs of Writing Fiction. Her books led to short-term appointments as a teacher and writer-in-residence at colleges across Canada and the US, notably at the University of Idaho, Linfield College, and the Portland State summer program in Cannon Beach.

Ginny also sustained a lifelong love of music. She led choirs in her convent years, later studied organ and jazz improvisation, served as church organist in Sackville, and played four-hand piano with partners in both Sackville and Salem. In recent years, she hosted Monday practice sessions with fellow musicians, and she and Al opened their house to neighbors who came to listen. She and Al attended concerts and opera series in Salem, Portland, Seattle, New York, and Santa Fe. They also took social dance lessons and in the Sackville years brought the boys to an annual dance camp.

Through shared interests, good conversation, music, and her fondness for hosting gatherings, Ginny built close friendships in every season of her long, rich, and multifaceted life. And with friends far afield, Ginny always kept in touch. She corresponded, she called, she looked people up on her travels. And many an old classmate, neighbor, student, and colleague reciprocated, coming long distances to visit and catch up. At their 60th class reunion this year, students from 1959 remembered her as a teacher who changed their lives—and wrote to tell her so.

Survivors include her husband Albert, sons Tom and Andrew, and granddaughter Claire.

A Mass of Christian Hope is scheduled for Saturday, February 17 at 10:30 at Queen of Peace Catholic Church, 4227 Lone Oak Road SE, Salem, followed by a reception. Suggested donations include The Music Lessons Project; Camerata Musica; and Oregon Symphony in Salem.

The family thanks Windsong Memory Care for Ginny’s special care during her final months.

Bishop Calvin D. McConnell
December 3, 1928-November 28, 2023calvin-d-mcconnell.jpg

The Council of Bishops announced the death of Bishop Calvin D. McConnell, a retired bishop of The United Methodist Church, having served from 1980-1996. Bishop McConnell was born in Monte Vista, Colorado on December 3, 1928. He died on November 28, 2023 at Willamette View Retirement Community in Portland, Oregon where he and his wife Velma resided since 2002. Bishop McConnell earned degrees from the University of Denver and the Iliff School of Theology, later culminating in a Masters in Sacred Theology from Andover Newton Theological School in 1967. He later served in Williams, CA, and later as minister to youth at First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto and as Director of the Wesley Foundation at Stanford University. Subsequently, he transferred to the Oregon-Idaho Conference, serving as University Chaplain and Assistant Professor of Religion at Willamette University, before returning to his home conference and serving churches in Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs. The Western Jurisdiction elected Calvin McConnell to the episcopacy in 1980 and assigned him to the Portland Area. In 1988 he was assigned to the Seattle Area. In his active episcopacy he served as President of The Upper Room, and was on the organizing Advisory Board of the Academy for Spiritual Formation, and a member of the editorial board of WEAVINGS: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life. Bishop McConnell is past President of the General Commission on Religion and Race, and of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. He served as a trustee of Willamette University, the University of Puget Sound and the Iliff School of Theology. He loved his life in the church and leaves a legacy of faith, compassion, and advocacy for social justice. Bishop McConnell was an insightful and compassionate leader, an engaging speaker, and a friend and mentor to many. He is survived by his wife Velma, their sons, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and his brother, Taylor McConnell. A copy of Bishop McConnell's obituary can be found online. Gifts in honor of Bishop McConnell may be given to the Calvin McConnell Scholarship Fund at Iliff School of Theology, 2323 E Iliff Ave, Denver, Colorado, 80210. Iliff’s donation website is A memorial service will be held at Portland First United Methodist Church, 1828 SW Jefferson Street, Portland, OR  97201 on Saturday, January 20, 2024 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

Peter Simensky peter-simensky.jpg

With a heavy heart we share the news of the passing of Peter Simensky, beloved former chair of PNCA's MFA in Visual Studies. Peter was a long time faculty member and leader in the Visual Studies program founding, and a luminary in the local contemporary arts scene in Portland for many years. He was personally very close with many former and current PNCA faculty. Most recently, Peter served as associate professor and chair of the Graduate Fine Arts program at the California College of Arts in San Francisco. Those who worked closely with Peter have always been deeply impressed with his commitment to teaching and his evolving pedagogies. A guiding light in his field, Simensky was not merely an educator but a brilliant artist, infusing his work with the essence of radio as a medium for play and exploration. During his career, Peter received a variety of prestigious awards including a Warhol Foundation Precipice Grant, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and residencies at MacDowell Colony and Skowhegan. His full obituary can be found online. Peter Simensky’s memory will continue to inspire and resonate in the hearts of all who know him.   

Dr. Roger P. Hull
Nov. 30, 1943 – Oct. 5, 2023 

He and his wife Bonnie moved to Salem in 1970, and he began his teaching career at Willamette that fall. Over time, he taught courses in Renaissance art and architecture, European modern art, and American art, architecture, and photography. He and a colleague led post-session study programs in Italy. He received several teaching awards and was named Oregon Professor of the Year in 1993 by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.roger-hull-painting.jpeg

His early scholarship focused on American photography, and he was the recipient of the Logan Award for New Writing in Photography for his essay “Emplacement, Displacement, and the Fate of Photographs” (1989). With the advent of the Hallie Ford Museum, his scholarship shifted to Pacific Northwest art history; he authored eleven monographs on Oregon artists, including Carl Hall, Charles Heaney, George Johanson BFA'50, Louis Bunce, and Lucinda Parker BFA'66, all published in conjunction with exhibitions that he organized, and numerous exhibition brochures. 

He received an Oregon Governor’s Arts Award in 1999 and an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree from Willamette in 2022. Roger Piatt Hull was born Nov. 30, 1943, in Lebanon, Tennessee, the son of Piatt Hull, an attorney, and Fanny Black Hull, a legal secretary, business owner, and homemaker. During World War II, Roger and his mother lived in her hometown of Salamanca, New York, and in 1949 the family moved to his father’s hometown of Wallace, Idaho. Roger grew up there, graduating from Wallace High School in 1962. He graduated from Whitman College in 1966 with a degree in English and earned Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in art history at Northwestern University (1967 and 1970 respectively).

At Northwestern, he met Bonnie Decker, and they were married in 1969 in Wilmette, Illinois. In Salem, their son Zachary was born in 1973. Hull was active in civic affairs, serving on the boards of the Northeast Neighbors neighborhood association, Mission Mill (now Willamette Heritage Center), and on the Salem Landmarks Commission. He assisted his wife in preparing the document nominating the Court-Chemeketa Residential Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places, where it was listed in 1987.

Hull is survived by his wife, son, daughter-in-law Ashton, grandchildren Sidney and Vivien, and one brother and three sisters and their spouses and children. No services are planned, but memorial donations may be made to the Roger Hull Scholarship Fund at Willamette University, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art publication fund, or the Marion-Polk Food Share.

Image: George Johanson (American, 1982-2022), "Portrait of Roger Hull," 2010, acrylic on canvas, 59 x 43.5 in., collection of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University, Maribeth Collins Art Acquisition Fund, 2010.010.

Prof. Grant O. Thorsett, Ph.D.
Jan. 25, 1940 – Oct. 4, 2023

Grant Thorsett, long-time professor of biology at Willamette and father of President Steve Thorsett, died on October 4 after a long illness resulting from an accident in 2020.

Born in Shelton, Washington, in 1940, Grant was the first in his family to attend college, atgrant-thorsett.png Washington State University, where he met and married Karen, his wife of more than sixty years. As he was finishing graduate studies at Yale, he was recruited by Willamette President G. Herbert Smith in 1967 during a meeting at Penn Station in New York. He never visited campus or met his departmental colleagues before signing his contract, but he never doubted his decision, remaining until his retirement in 2008. 

His service to the university was broad. He was on the committee that purchased Willamette’s first computer and on the small task force that successfully brought Phi Beta Kappa to Willamette. He was biology department chair for 14 years. Proud of the younger faculty colleagues he helped hire, and of his work on the Faculty Council, including as its chair, supporting faculty development, he loved dressing in his regalia and leading faculty processions as the University Marshal, including at his son’s inauguration ceremony.

Grant’s primary passion, though, was for Willamette’s students. He taught thousands and mentored many over the years, and served as the university’s premedical advisor for much of his career. He had a remarkable memory for even his earliest students and, sometimes to their chagrin, the grades they had earned, and he kept track of them in their post-Willamette lives. As the first molecular biologist hired at Willamette, he took a special interest in curricular and laboratory modernization and worked closely on the design of Olin Hall. He also enjoyed co-leading interdisciplinary student trips to Hawaii and attending student performances and events. He had season Bearcat Football tickets for more than a half-century and attended most home games. He, Karen, and his family have established the Grant and Karen Thorsett Endowed Scholarship Fund in biology, to support future generations of Willamette students.

A lover of the outdoors, Grant traveled extensively with Karen, their three sons, Stephen, David (now an orthopedic surgeon), and Jeffrey (a brewer and restaurant owner), and other members of his family. He visited all fifty states and a great many national parks, and in his retirement was able to travel in Europe and visit his great-grandparent’s farm in Norway. Most of all, he enjoyed backpacking and canoeing remote wilderness areas in the Northwest; he and Karen spent their fiftieth wedding anniversary on the shore of the Arctic Sea after rafting the Hulahula River through the Brooks Range of Alaska.

In addition to his wife and sons, Grant is survived by five grandchildren and by many members of a far-flung extended family bound together in no small part by his own outgoing nature. These include at least three Willamette alumni: his sister-in-law Kristi Ronningen BME'89 and nephews Patrick Smith BS'99 and Joshua Smith BA'03. He will be remembered by many and missed. The family asks that any gifts in his memory be made to the Thorsett Endowed Scholarship at Willamette. No service is planned.

Dr. Raymond "Skip" Kenitzer, Jr.
April 16, 1948 – Sept. 25, 2023

On September 25, 2023, Skip passed away at 75 years of age in his home in Salem, Oregon. Skip is survived by Jan, his wife of 52 years, his sons Jason Kenitzer and Matthew (Shea)kenizter-skip Kenitzer. He was a proud PopPop to five grandchildren, Paisley, Kaiser, Ada Jovi, and Olive. He is further survived by other amazing family and friends.

Skip was preceded in death by his parents, Raymond Frederick Kenitzer, Sr. and Pauline Kenitzer, sisters, Sally Smith and JoAnne Manion.

Skip was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, graduated from Shorewood High School, and went on to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. He was a lifeguard in Milwaukee during the summers and upon graduating from St. Olaf, he landed his first teaching position in Bloomington, MN where he met Jan. His love for teaching and coaching gave him the desire to further his education receiving a Masters and a Doctoral Degree at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado. He went on to teach at the college level, with his most recent positions at Willamette University as professor, swim coach, and associate athletic director where he semi-retired in 2011, then became adjunct professor at Corban University until 2017. Skip absolutely loved teaching and enjoyed his students and his swimmers which he affectionately called “his kids” even as they became adults with children of their own.

Skip will be remembered for his strong faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ, his deep love of family, attending events for his grandchildren, his great sense of humor, his love of teaching and coaching, and showing his utmost respect with a warm “thank you” to those who serve our country. He heard many heartwarming stories and made new friends along the way.

Skip’s favorite quote that he learned from his Father was “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice”. He definitely lived up to that which his Father taught him.

Skip will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and many whose lives he touched. He will forever remain in our hearts.

Please be kind, gentle, respectful, and patient with each other. If you are able, please support, educate, and recognize: the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, Dementia Society of America, and The American Cancer Society.

Celebration of Life Plans:

Saturday, August 3, 2024

2:00 - 4:00 pm

Cone Chapel, 2nd floor of Waller Hall, on the Willamette University campus in Salem Oregon.

If you would like to share a memory of Skip, please let the family know so that they can plan via the Alumni office at

Sunday, August 4, 2024 (Provided by Jan)

This is tentative right now, but we are thinking about doing a “Paddle Out”. Why? Because Skip loved the water and always felt comfort and at peace in the water, any body of water, or just being near it.

Location: Pacific City, Oregon Coast, a little over 50 miles from Salem.

Time TBD closer to August and announced at the service on Saturday.

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.

Read Full Obituary

George S. McCowen, Jr.
Jan. 22, 1935 – Dec. 15, 2022

georgesmccowenphoto 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.

Nona Pyron
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.


Jerry Hudson, former Willamette President
1938 - March 2024

jerry hudson Jerry led Willamette for 17 years, from 1980 to 1997, longer than any other president except for G. Herbert Smith and Carl Doney. Arriving at a time of significant financial challenges, he shepherded the development of Willamette from regional to national prominence. It was under his leadership that Willamette was awarded a chapter of the academic honorary society Phi Beta Kappa (a goal that had eluded President Smith), and during his tenure that the relationship with Tokyo International University blossomed into its current form. Most of all, Jerry will be remembered for his physical transformation of the campus, including the beautiful re-imagining of the Mill Race, the construction of the Hatfield Library and the Olin Science Center, and the plans for the Hallie Ford Museum of Art and for the Rogers Music Center, which is today home to his namesake Hudson Hall.

Jerry Hudson was born in Tennessee in 1938 and graduated from Lipscomb University before earning a PhD in American history from Tulane. He was a faculty member and provost at Pepperdine and then president at Hamline before coming to Willamette. After retiring from Willamette, he served as executive vice president for the Collins Foundation and chairman of the board at the Oregon Historical Society, as well as interim president at Marylhurst University.

"The personal attribute I most often hear ascribed to Jerry is “kind,” and his smile and sense of humor were ever present. I certainly found that to still be true as I got to know him in the first years of my own presidency. Even a quarter century later, his leadership echoes in many ways at Willamette, not least in the standard of excellence he sought to uphold, and in the culture of service that was exemplified in his own life. Our thoughts are with his wife Ann, his family including his daughter Judith Matarazzo JD'84 and grandson Harrison Matarazzo BA'15, and his many friends. May his memory continue to be a blessing," said President Steve Thorsett. 

Albert C. Berglundalbert berglund
April 30, 1942 - February 20, 2024

Albert Charles Berglund of Sherwood, Ore., aged 81, passed away peacefully at his home Feb. 20, 2024.Born April 30, 1942, in Fargo, N.D., the second of three brothers to Rev. Magnus G. and Violet Berglund, he grew up in San Francisco, Calif., where Rev. Berglund was the pastor of Temple Baptist Church. Berglund attended University of Redlands on a soccer scholarship, where he was elected the student body president for the Class of 1964. Berglund performed post-graduate work at Oregon State University in Corvallis before accepting a post teaching geology at Willamette University in Salem. He taught at Willamette for three years until being appointed Assistant Admissions Dean, which was followed by a promotion to the post of Registrar. During his time at Willamette, Berglund co-founded the Willamette Men's Soccer program and served as the team's coach during its inaugural 1967 season. For their pioneering role in Bearcats Soccer, Berglund and his team were honored in 2020 with induction into the Willamette University Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1975, Berglund departed Willamette to become Associate Dean/Head of Academic Services at Lewis & Clark College's Law School in Portland. After leaving academia, Berglund pursued a variety of interests and hobbies in farming and other fields.
He is survived by his children, Erik S. Berglund of Sherwood and Bryn A. Berglund (and Matthew Miranda) of New York, N.Y.; granddaughter, Marguerite A. Miranda of New York, N.Y.; brothers, Magnus (and Cathleen) Berglund of Sutter Creek, Calif. and John (and Sharon) Berglund of Pioneer, Calif.; niece, Carma (and Michael) Zisman of San Francisco, Calif.; and nephew, Eben (and Jennifer) Berglund of Payette, Idaho.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Willamette Men's Soccer Program via the Bearcat Athletic Fund of Willamette University.

Leonard George Snodgrass
January12, 1948 - January 9, 2024

Leonard George Snodgrass 75, of Salem, Oregon, passed away on January 9, 2024.

Leonard was born on January 12, 1948, at Salem Memorial Hospital to Howard and Doris Snodgrass. He attended Dever Conner School and graduated from Albany High School in 1966. He attended Chemeketa Community College and then transferred to Simpson Bible College in San Francisco in 1967, studying music. In 1970 he transferred to the University of Oregon to finish his music education.

Leonard helped his dad on their mint farm while growing up. He also helped neighbors on their farms working 12-hour shifts. He learned a lot about machinery, how to fix things and enjoyed working on his 1966 VW bug! He always knew how to help others with his abilities.

After finishing at the University of Oregon he moved to Salem and worked at Willamette University until his retirement.

His first love was calling and cueing for square dances, and especially inspiring and teaching new dancers. He traveled to different clubs and met many new friends.

He leaves behind his brother Ralph of Fairbanks, Alaska, stepsister Alice of Minnetonka, Minnesota, daughter Jennifer of Phoenix, Arizona, son Greg (Micah) of Houston Texas and grandsons Tate and Tyler.

Lora Yasen
May 28, 1960 - February 20, 2024

Sadly, we announce the death of former faculty and staff member, Lora Yasen on February 20. Lora served as a professor at Tokyo International University of America (TIUA) and eventually accepted the position as the Director of TIUA Academic Affairs in 2018. She provided many TIUA students a foundation in English as their second language and encouraged creativity in their writing and learning endeavors. Lora touched many lives and will be missed by those she shared time and knowledge with over the years.

Donna McElroy
1947- December 18, 2023donna-mcelroy.png

Notice was received from Steve Maser, Atkinson School Professor Emeritus of Public Management, that his wife, Donna, passed away peacefully on Monday, December 18, 2023. Donna holds a special place within the Atkinson School. Many faculty members remember her incomparable kindness. She also made exceptional contributions to Willamette University as a longtime member of the student affairs staff and a specialist in serving and supporting Willamette's international students. We extend condolences to Steve and their daughter Lindsay who publicly shared the following words: "Donna did not want a memorial service, but wanted a space for people to share stories and memories with each other. This is that space. (In lieu of flowers or gifts, please donate to Care Partners of Oregon, End of Life Choices Oregon, Oregon Food Bank, or your favorite nonprofit.) Donna always created community through the meals she prepared and the tables she set, the joyous celebrations, where she brought us together to laugh and share. In this space, she continues doing that. People from different areas of Donna's life didn't always meet one another and she wished they would have. Through this space, she wanted people to have an opportunity to read how others came to know her, what they valued about her and why. We'd love for you to share your memories and read others', so we can all relive the fun, good food, and good company Donna provided and be reminded of what was central to Donna’s life and the source of her joy: community. Thank you." Cards and notes of sympathy may be sent to Steve and Lindsey at 1111 NW Irving Street, Portland, OR 97209

Carol Jeanne Corner
July 16, 1928- November 1, 2023 
Carol Corner passed away on November 1, 2023. She died peacefully surrounded by family. Carol was former support staff in Willamette's Office of Admission. Carol was mother-in-law to Sue Corner and kin to more than twenty WU alumni. She was a very popular colleague who served the university diligently and effectively. Her full obituary can be found here. Carol's life was filled with great joy and deep sorrow, and she navigated it all with exemplary grace, stalwart faith, and tremendous strength. She was admired by all who knew her. She is survived by son Steve Corner, daughter Diane Corner, son Jeff and daughter-in-law Sue Corner, and her nine beautiful grandchildren. A memorial service was held on Friday, December 29, 2023 at First Congregational UCC Church, 700 Marion St. NE, Salem, OR 97301. Interment will be 11 am, Monday, June 10, 2024 at Los Gatos Memorial Park, 2255 Los Gatos Almaden Rd., San Jose, CA 95124

Frances Jean Whipple
Jan. 14, 1926 – March 1, 2023

jeanwhippleA 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.

Barbara Columbus
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.

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Last updated on March 11, 2024

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