In Memoriam, Fall 2013

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Gary Edmond Williams 1957  (Obituary)

Gary Edmond Williams 1957 (Obituary)

Gary Edmond Williams '57 died June 12, 2013, at age 78. Born in Iowa, he attended high school in Seattle and became an Eagle Scout at age 17. A talented artist who studied architecture, he designed his parents’ house while still a teenager. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Pacific University, he earned a master’s in business administration from Seattle University. He served briefly in the U.S. Army in the late 1950s and then began working for Kenworth Trucks. He married Eleanor Sue Turman in 1959. Williams worked as a business executive for Paccar, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of medium- and heavy-duty trucks in the world, retiring at age 45. He continued as a business consultant and later worked as an antique dealer. He also volunteered for United Way and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. He is survived by his wife, Eleanor, his daughter Cynthia Lorraine and a granddaughter. 

Mary Lisa (Carey) Hargis 1976  (Obituary)

Mary Lisa (Carey) Hargis 1976 (Obituary)

Pacific University Trustee Lisa Hargis '76 died July 12, 2013. Hargis received her undergraduate degree in business administration from Pacific, then worked for Oregon Mutual Insurance Company for 34 years, beginning in 1979 as an underwriter and retiring as a vice president of underwriting. She joined the Board of Trustees in 2011 and worked to guide a risk management task force. She also served as president of the Oregon Fair Plan Association, a nonprofit association supported by insurance companies licensed to write property insurance. She enjoyed boating, cooking, traveling and caring for her husband and her cocker spaniel, Murphy Brown. She is survived by her husband of 27 years, Gary M. Hargis; her parents, John and Sally Carey; and two brothers, Jay and Colin Carey. She was preceded in death by her brother, Kevin Carey.

Paul Kohl 1980  (Obituary)

Paul Kohl 1980 (Obituary)

Paul Kohl '80, faculty emeritus, died Feb. 27, 2013, following a long battle with cancer. A native New Yorker, he earned a bachelor’s degree from State University New York, Binghamton in 1973 and his doctorate in optometry from Pacific University in 1980. He then became the first teaching fellow in the College of Optometry. He went on to become a tenured faculty member, earning the Pacific University Trustee Award to Young Faculty, and then the Pacific University Distinguished Professional Faculty Award. A dedicated teacher, he served on several boards and committees at the university throughout his more than 30 years of service to Pacific.  Among other achievements, he established pediatric optometric services and developed the pediatrics curriculum at the College of Optometry. He published many articles on pediatric and behavioral vision. He also provided presentations and chaired continuing education conferences for practicing optometrists. Kohl retired in 2011 and was awarded faculty emeritus status. He is survived by his wife, Cathy; daughter, Maja ’14; and son, Jesse.

Shirley L. Abbott 1952  (Obituary)

Shirley L. Abbott 1952 (Obituary)

Former U.S. ambassador Shirley L. Abbott '52, OD '53 died April 23, 2013, of congestive heart failure. He was 88.

An optometrist by trade, Abbott also was a rancher, a politician and served as ambassador to the Kingdom of Lesotho under President Ronald Reagan’s administration. He also was a devoted alumnus of Pacific University, where, in 2003, his support established the Abbott Alumni Center. In 2007, he received the Pacific University Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award.

Abbott spent his early years on a tenant dairy farm in Minnesota before moving with his family to El Paso, Texas, where he graduated from high school. He attended what is now the University of Texas at El Paso but left to join the Army during World War II. Following the war, he earned his bachelor and doctorate degrees at Pacific University.

He returned to El Paso, where he was one of the first in the region to fit corneal contact lenses. His optometric practice became one of the largest in the city. In the late 1960s, he started an optical company that later became Sunland Optical, then the largest military optical contractor in the country. He also developed apartment housing and operated farms in New Mexico, Texas and California, as well as one in South Africa with his grandson, Jason. He also was director of several local banks.

In the mid-1970s, he was appointed regional director of the Bi-Centennial Administration. He co-founded the Granaderos de Galvez, which honored the Spanish influence on the development of America. He also traveled to Spain several times as a guest of the Spanish government, was named Honorary Consul General of Spain for Texas and was granted The Order of Isabella La Catolica, the highest honor awarded to a non-Spanish citizen.

Abbott served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1977 to 1978. In 1983, President Reagan appointed him ambassador to the Kingdom of Lesotho, an independent monarchy in southern Africa.

In his later years, Abbott and his wife, Arline, divided their time between Texas and California. He was preceded in death by his wife. Abbott is survived by his son, Alan, a former member of the Pacific University Board of Trustees; his grandson, Jason; his granddaughter, Allison Kaelin ‘06; two great-grandchildren; and a brother, Bill.

General Comments

Harry E. Therkelsen Sr. '50, MAEd '56

Harry E. Therkelsen Sr. ’50, MAEd ’56 died July 7, 2014, at age 92. Following Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Navy, where he served as a naval aviation navigator in the Pacific theater. Following the war, he moved to Forest Grove to attend Pacific University. He began his 34-year career at Bandon High School, where he taught and coached football. He later taught and coached at Lakeview High School. He and his wife, Helen, moved to California in 1955, and he taught and served as an administrator in the San Mateo Union High School District. He put special focus on students who felt disenfranchised by the traditional curriculum. He retired in 1985 and became more involved with local organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Knights of Columbus, and Salvation Army. He was a craftsman, wood carver, carpenter, gardener and sports fan. He is survived by his wife; children Harry Jr., Marlene and Laura; and five grandchildren.

William Ray VanderZanden '50

William Ray VanderZanden '50 died Feb. 6, 2015, at age 86. He grew up on a family farm in Banks and attended high school in Forest Grove before earning degrees from Pacific University and the University of Portland. In 1950, he married Eileen Ann Meeuwsen. She preceded him in death in 1990. He spent his career as a chemist at GAF and retired from Bonneville Power Administration as a quality assurance engineer. He enjoyed fishing, spending time with family and friends, working in the garden, and rebuilding antique radios. He is survived by his wife of 22 years, Sharon Katherine (Caputo) VanderZanden; children Susan (and Hoyt) Aden, Ken (and Vicki) VanderZanden, Kevin (and Jessica) VanderZanden, Jan (and Al) Ford, and Mark VanderZanden (and Kirsten Solberg); sister Clara Dickerman; brother Eugene (and Liz) VanderZanden; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Phyllis (Skarsten) Dixon '51, MS '58

Phyllis (Skarsten) Dixon ’51, MS ’58 died Feb. 18, 2015, at age 85. Her father Dr. Marvin O. Skarsten, taught at Pacific for more than two decades, also serving as registrar, director of admissions, and director of the graduate school. Following her own graduation from Pacific, Phyllis moved to Rapid City, where she was Christian education director at First Presbyterian Church. She earned a doctorate in education at Northern Colorado University and returned to South Dakota, where she was a teacher and administrator for 32 years. She also served as an adjunct professor at South Dakota State University and was a committed community volunteer with CASA, Club for Boys, Head Start, YFS and Casey Family Children. She held positions on several local organization boards and received countless honors and awards, including “10 Most Powerful Women in Rapid City” in 1980. She also was an avid amateur actor and a fine musician. She is survived by her son Dr. David (and Peggy) Dixon; grandchildren Danielle (and Andrew) Wolf and Jonathan Dixon; sister Margaret (Peggy) Ann Alexander ’63 (and Bill Alexander ’64); nieces Malinda Alexander ’95 (and Kim Alexander) and their son Liam, and Melissa ’98 (and Blake ’98) Timm and their daughters Sydney and Hannah, as well as a large extended family.

Ray Kangas '51

Ray Kangas '51 died July 18, 2014, at age 87. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, then earned his degree in chemistry from Pacific University. He moved to Longview, Wash., in 1951 and worked for Reynolds Metals for 37 years, retiring as chief chemist in 1988. He was a member of the Longview Church of the Nazarene and enjoyed golfing, gardening and spending time with family and friends. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Arve and Everett, and sisters Sylvia and Helen. He is survived by his wife, Shirley; sons Jim (and Diane) Kangas and Greg (and Sandra) Kangas; daughter Julie Kangas; and five grandchildren.

Harriet Lehua (Yost) Wehrli '56

Harriet Lehua (Yost) Wehrli '56 died April 9, 2013, at age 78. After Pacific, she earned a master’s degree from the University of Oregon. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Richard H. Wehrli ’56, OD ’57. She is survived by her children Traci Kane, Darci Fersch and Cameron Wehrli; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Myldred J. (Chester) Peldyak '57

Myldred J. (Chester) Peldyak '57 died Nov. 30, 2014, at age 79. She received her bachelor’s in elementary education from Pacific and went on to work as a kindergarten teacher at Visitation School in Verboort and later a fifth-grade teacher in Forest Grove until her retirement in 1991. She married Leon E. Peldyak ’59 on May 12, 1956, and they had three children. Early in their marriage, she worked as a fire watcher for the Forest Grove Fire Department. Following her retirement, she volunteered for the St. Vincent de Paul at St. Anthony’s Parish, where she was a member since 1955. She enjoyed reading, knitting, crocheting, making baskets, and attending craft classes, as well as golfing and traveling. She was preceded in death by her husband. She is survived by her children Leah Peldyak ’85 (and Mark Schmidt), Greg (and Kathy) Peldyak, and Mark Peldyak (and Brandy Roberts); her brother Raymond Chester; and six grandchildren, including Brett Peldyak ’16.

Richard "Dick" Lynn Smith '58

Richard “Dick” Lynn Smith '58 died Nov. 5, 2014, at age 77. He earned a bachelor’s in education from Pacific and went on to teach at Knappa, Forest Grove, and Yamhill-Carlton Union High School. While in Yamhill-Carlton, he taught psychology, career education, history, and social sciences, and he retired as student counselor. He also coached basketball and was athletic director. He met his future wife, Judy Wahlborn, while teaching at Knappa, where she was the high school secretary. They were married in 1960. They returned to Forest Grove when he retired in 1992. Dick loved owning, breeding and showing Appaloosa horses. He enjoyed crossword puzzles, landscape design, gardening, woodworking, golfing, bowling and traveling. He was his granddaughters’ No. 1 fan as they competed in softball, volleyball and basketball. He was preceded in death by his son, Kevin, and a sister. He is survived by his wife; daughter and Vicky (and Bill) Vandomelen; three siblings, Ron (and Susie) Smith, Bob (and Karen) Smith, and Virginia (and Joe) Swanno; brother-in-law Dave Henderson; two granddaughters; and many nieces and nephews.