*in order by date of passing
Jan Jess, s'82 and KU School of Social Welfare retiree, passed away on Nov. 9, 2019 at Presbyterian Manor in Lawrence at the age of 81. Read the full obituary in the Lawrence Journal World here. You can also read more about Jan who was featured in the Lawrence Presbyterian Manor Community Matters March 2018 edition
Excerpts from an obituary written Jan's daughter Jill Jess Phythyon:
Jan Jess, social justice warrior, basketball fanatic and devoted grandmother.
Janet Kay Hurt was born on Jan. 21, 1938, in Spencer, Iowa, to Eleanor and Owen Hurt and grew up in northwest Iowa. She attended high school in Rock Rapids, which – to her dismay – did not have basketball for girls. She petitioned the school board to establish a team; they played half-court ball in satin skorts.
She met her husband, Paul, when he returned from the Korean War -- her family had moved in next door to the Jess family home. They married June 1, 1956, and she joined him in Iowa City while he studied for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He preceded her in death on Oct. 22, 2015. She worked in the University of Iowa secretarial pool and earned extra money typing theses and dissertations.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from South Dakota State University in 1970 and was politically active throughout much of her life. She was instrumental in the McGovern campaign in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1972 and volunteered as a poll worker for many years in Lawrence.
Upon moving to Kansas in 1976, she took a job in the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare as an administrative associate and completed her master’s of social work in 1982. She was named Outstanding Nontraditional Woman Student.
Her first social work position was with the then-new hospice program of the Visiting Nurses Association of Douglas County. VNA Hospice was important in the end-of-life care of both Paul and Jan.
She returned to the School of Social Welfare as the assistant director of field practicum, retiring in 2003 after 20 years in the position. In that time, she helped place more than 6,000 students in the workforce.
As her final gift to higher education, she donated her body to the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Herman Leon, 89, our beloved father, and long-time Lawrence resident, passed away on August 26, in Kansas City. Herman was born May 10, 1930 in Brooklyn, NY. His father, David Leon, immigrated from Jerusalem, Palestine and his mother, Betty Leon, immigrated from Odessa, Ukraine. In 1971, he joined the faculty of the School of Social Work at KU to establish a graduate social work program that exists to this day. Herman taught Social Work and Human Behavior at KU for many years and was a Hope Award Finalist for Outstanding Progressive Educator. He retired as Professor Emeritus in 1998 after teaching for 25 years at KU. Read full obituary here.
Erin Langhofer, 25, died on Friday, August 2, 2019, in Kansas City, MO. She was attending a First Friday event in the Crossroads District with her boyfriend, the love of her life, Thomas LeManske, and other friends, when she was struck and killed by a stray bullet. Erin graduated from Blue Valley Northwest High School in 2012 and from the University of Kansas in 2016 with a BS and an MS in 2017. As an undergrad, Erin received the Margo Award, the top prize in the School of Social Welfare. Erin was a counselor and therapist at Rose Brooks Center and helped domestic violence survivors. Honoring her giving nature, Erin had registered as an organ donor; her decision will give new life to at least 50 people. Read the full obituary here.
Edith Black died on June 30, 2019 in her home in Lawrence. Born in Lawrence on Bastille Day 1928, Edith was the daughter of William Edwin Elam and Edith Mae Tobler. She graduated from Lawrence Liberty Memorial High School (1946), the University of Kansas (1950) and earned a Master's in Public Administration from KU (1974). Edith worked at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare from 1970-1995. Read the full obituary here.
Sandra Sue Johnson, Muskogee resident, passed from this life on Thursday, April 25, 2019 at her home. She was 69 years of age. Born June 10, 1949 in Norton, KS she was the daughter of Kenneth Bilben Johnson and Dorothy M. Jewett Johnson. She grew up in Topeka and attended school there. Sandi earned her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Kansas. She worked as a social worker for several years and was a tremendous advocate for women’s services. She was married to Don Johnson on May 31, 1990 in Topeka, KS. Following their retirement they moved first to Norman, OK and later to Muskogee to be closer to family. Read more.
Dianne Lynn (Zoglo) Schwartz was born August 26, 1948, in Denver, Colorado, the daughter of Raymond and Ruth Zoglo. Dianne died peacefully at her home in Lawrence on Monday, March 25, surrounded by her family. Dianne finished a second Master's degree, in Social Work, from the University of Kansas. She finished her career in a role she sincerely cherished, as a counselor at Hillcrest Elementary School. In retirement Dianne served in a variety of community roles, working with voting/election processes and later coordinating art exhibits at Ten Thousand Villages on Mass Street. Read the full obituary here.
Dr. David Hardcastle, interim dean from 1974-75 and dean of the KU School of Social Welfare from 1977 to 1982, passed away at the end of January 2019. As Dr. Hardcastle reflects on his tenure as dean in the book, “Transitions - The Emergence, Growth, and Development of the School of Social Welfare” by Shirley Patterson and Ben Zimmerman as editors, "The goals I had for the School during my tenure were academic development and improvement of its research and scholarship, to achieve a synthesis growth, change and stability, and to enhance its position on campus as an integral part of the University. My personal objectives as dean were to be equitable, fair, consistent and even predictable with the various constituencies of the School. While not totally successful, I believe the School demonstrated prodigious accomplishments and growth during the era in fulfilling its general mission. This was an era characterized by declining federal funding, a reduced applicant pool nationally, a transition in CSWE accreditation standards. However, during this era the School maintained its position as one of the top units on campus in extramural funding per faculty, kept its enrollment constant with qualified students except by planned decline, and achieved full accreditation of its masters and baccalaureate programs." Read an obituary written by Cynthia Bisman, PhD, MSW, Professor Emeritus, Bryn Mawr College School of Social Work and Social Research here.
JR Majors, 93, formerly of Overland Park, Kansas, passed away at his home in Edina, Minnesota, on January 18, 2019, after a brief illness. He is survived by his wife, Ruth, of 68 years, and daughters Janis Majors Howard (Eliot) of Edina, Minnesota, and Karen Majors Bogle (Grant) of Boston, Massachusetts. He also leaves six grandchildren and two grea-grandchildren. JR was born in Roff, Oklahoma, and moved to Winfield, Kansas, as a teenager. He served in the United States Navy during World War II. Following the war, JR graduated from the University of Kansas with a Master's Degree in Social Work. JR worked at Family and Children Services of Kansas City, Inc. and served as its Executive Director for 25 years. He was the first recipient of the KU School of Social Welfare Alumni of the Year award. In addition to his service with the KU School of Social Welfare Professional Advisory Council, JR served on many community boards including the National Association of Social Workers, the Child Welfare League of America and the Kansas Children's Service League. He served on the board of Marriage Foundations, Inc. and as a trustee of the UMKC Starr Education Funding Committee. JR was a Life Elder of the Prairie Village Presbyterian Church and a 36-year member of the Kiwanis Club of Kansas City. A service celebrating his life will be held on February 9th at 11 am at Linden Hills United Church of Christ at 4200 Upton Avenue South in Minneapolis, MN (55410). The family suggests memorials in JR's name to the KU School of Social Welfare Dean's Opportunity Fund. Donations can be sent to the KU Endowment, PO Box 928, Lawrence, KS 66044 or online here. Published in Kansas City Star on Jan. 27, 2019. Picture taken at going away party in 2015 when JR moved to Minnesota to be closer to family.
Dr. Andrew Edward Zinn died suddenly and unexpectedly at his home in Lawrence, KS, on December 28, 2018. Andy earned his PhD in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked for many years as a Senior Researcher at the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. In 2012, Andy and his family moved to Lawrence, KS, where Andy joined the faculty of the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas. He earned tenure this past year, and was made an Associate Professor of Social Welfare and PhD Director. As a colleague described, Andy was “an intellectual powerhouse, a tireless child welfare advocate, a great ‘all hands on deck’ colleague, and a good friend.” Read the full obituary here.
Dr. Arthur Katz, former dean of the KU School of Social Welfare from 1968 to 1974 and acting dean from 1976 to 1977, has passed away at the age of 95. Dr. Katz was the founding dean of the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas. Prior to his arrival, the social work degree was housed as a department in the College of Liberal Arts and Science and offices were located in Blake Hall. According to the book “Transitions - The Emergence, Growth, and Development of the School of Social Welfare” by Shirley Patterson and Ben Zimmerman as editors, “Dr. Katz made it clear that it was his expectation that there would be support for autonomous school status for the Social Work Department.” And within his first year of his tenure, he was able to make this true. He decided to call us the School of Social Welfare instead of the School of Social Work, since he felt social welfare was a broader term and designated policy and social reform implications instead of the narrower term of social work. With the School status, he was momentous in securing Twente Hall and Watkins Home as the two buildings to house the School on campus. After his tenure at KU, he later became executive director of the Council on Social Work Education and retired from faculty in 1986.
Shirley L. Patterson, Ph.D. (former faculty at KU School of Social Welfare), age 84, beloved social work professor, teacher, and mentor, community organizer, activist, photographer, writer, and story teller in the tradition of her West Texas roots, was a force among us. Born July 22, 1933 in Rankin, TX, she passed away April 10, 2018 under the loving care of the Palliative Care team at Rust Medical Center, Albuquerque. Small excerpt from Shirley's Story by Susan Cho written for the Gathering to Remember and Celebrate Shirley L. Patterson, Ph.D., at La Vida Llena on April 18, 2918, "Shirley was an incredible teacher. She stated her beliefs, opinions and facts pretty clearly on most things - 'like it or not.' From the time in 1953 when she sat in the 'Blacks Only' section of the train returning her from a summer work experience at Back Bay Mission, Biloxi, MS, to when she, as a member of the Albuquerque NOW chapter, picketed Hobby Lobby for their policy to exclude birth control as a covered expense in their employee health insurance plan. Shirley spoke and acted on her convictions. As she aged she let everyone know that she was not goign to let anyone ignore her, dismiss her as 'just and old lady' or undervalue her abilities or accomplishments. She was a force." Read the posted in the Albuquerque Journal full obituary.
Margaret S. Gordon died on October 3, 2016 at Aberdeen Heights in Kirkwood, Missouri. Margaret Schutz Gordon made lasting contributions to the KU School of Social Welfare during her career as well as post-retirement.. She was the Director of the Field Education Office from 1970-83. Following her retirement, she sponsored an annual lecture for field instructors, liaisons, and professional colleagues. The "Margo" lecture brought many notable social work scholars to campus, including Brene Brown, author of "Daring Greatly," Gary Bailey, MSW, ACSW, Professor of Practice at Simmons College School of Social Work and at the Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences, and many others. Said Alice Lieberman, Chancellor's Club Professor of Teaching at the School, "Margo's generous contribution to the School, in the form of ongoing funding for the Margo Lecture, has enabled the School to offer the community opportunities for continuing professional education to all. The lecture has now become a grand tradition, an occasion for social workers across the state to gather and to celebrate our accomplishments. This School leads the state and the region in the development of a great social work workforce, and contributions like Margo's are the reason we are able to continue to do so." Professor Gordon was also active in the community and recognized as a Distinguished Alumna by the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, and as an outstanding faculty member here at the KUSSW. Margaret was a cherished member of our community whose career and interests span the rich history of our School. We send condolences to her family, who have requested that memorials in her honor be directed to the Douglas County Senior Service, the First Methodist Church, Lawrence, Kansas or the charity of your choice. Read the full obituary here.
Kay Lynne Myers passed on Monday, July 25, 2016. Kay Lynne was the coordinator of the School's MSW program at the Edwards Campus from 1996 until her retirement in 2011. Additionally, she pioneered our continuing education program which supported countless alum and other social work professionals. Kay Lynne Myers came to the school of social welfare with a broad range of both volunteer and professional service that allowed her to hit the ground running as the school’s director of social work programming at the Edwards campus and director of professional and community education. She demonstrated exceptional skills in dealing with students, faculty and members of the social work community in the metropolitan area. She supported hundreds of our MSW students, our faculty and staff during this period. She was a central figure in the school’s early attempts to move beyond alumni donations to garner support from the Kansas City area. She provided the school's dean, Ann Weick, with opportunities to tell the school story in order to secure funding. She was an excellent staff member who supported the work of others and made significant contributions to the various school committee's and task forces on which she served. Without a doubt, she was the face of our program in KC during this era. Prior to her work at KU, she had an extensive practice career in KC starting with the VNA in 1980. Her career was marked by her commitment to get things done - her tenacity in the face of obstacles - her boundless sense of hopefulness about getting things done - and her compassion for social works client base. Read the full obituary here.
The University of Kansas community is mourning the death of Toni Johnson, associate professor of social welfare, who died Jan. 7, 2016, in Austin, Texas. She was 59. Johnson, whose area of study was children’s mental health, began her career at KU in 2005 as an assistant professor. She was a lead investigator from 2009-10 and became an associate professor in 2012. She received her master’s and doctorate in social work from the University of Texas-Austin and a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma. She also had worked as a therapist, trainer and program coordinator for disadvantaged individuals and families. Read the full KU news release here.
Dennis Saleebey, professor emeritus from the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, died July 16, 2014. In 1987, Dennis had the opportunity to take a position as professor at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. Dennis remained at KU from 1987 until his retirement in 2006. During his tenure, he acted as the Chair of the Doctoral Program (until 1997) and from his retirement to his death held the position of Professor Emeritus. It was at KU that the seeds of his lifelong commitment to community organizing and his belief in the inherent resilience and capacity of individuals took root. His early works addressing such topics as oppression in female populations, the ability of adolescents to engineer and initiate change, empowerment for clients and the construction of meaning and knowledge coalesced and fed his work as one of the creators of the Strengths Perspective. The Strengths Perspective, which upends traditional medical models of intervention and focuses instead on strengths and capacities and their ability to leverage change, transformed the practice of social work both at KU and across the national, and international, landscape. While on this academic journey, Dennis met and married Ann Weick, former Dean of the KU School of Social Welfare, who became his partner in academia, life and a mother to his adult children. Although he lost both Ann and Bette, Dennis remarked that he was an undeniably lucky man – to have had two great, enduring loves. But, that was Dennis. Ever grateful, ever hopeful. Ever searching for possibilities. Read the full obituary here. Read the KU news release here.
Ann Weick was born in Portland Oregon on March 3, 1941 to loving parents Thomas Ferdin and and Cecilia Rose Weick, Ann Weick had a self-described 1950's childhood, happily ensconced in a close knit family with her older brother Jerry and her younger sisters Carolyn and Jeanie. A devoted daughter, sister, sister-in-law and aunt to Sarah and Cathy, Ann's commitment to her family, and theirs to her, was unwavering. Throughout her life, she was the kind confidante, quiet leader and strong supporter for her siblings, their families, and an ever growing community of friends and colleagues. We are saddened by Ann's passing on May 31, 2014. But, we, her family, friends and colleagues are grateful to have been a part of her life. Shortly after obtaining her Ph.D., Ann accepted a teaching position at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare in Lawrence, Kansas. While at KU, Ann taught a master's level course in social policy as well as an undergraduate course in social welfare. Her continued professional and personal interest in the unique challenges confronting women led her to develop the first class in women's issues at the School. In 1981, Ann became the Director of the Doctoral Program. In 1987, Ann became Acting Dean of the School of Social Welfare, and in 1988 she accepted the position of Dean, which she held until her retirement in 2006. After her retirement, Ann held the position of Dean Emerita. Read the full obituary here. Read the KU news release here.
Aimee Elizabeth Ziegler, 40, died on April 2, 2012. She was born on November 11, 1971 in St. Louis, MO the daughter of David Robert and Kathleen Mary (Cullen) Ziegler. Aimee graduated with a Bachelors from the University of Missouri, Columbia and later graduated from the University of Kansas with her Masters in Social Work. Aimee helped start the WRAP program through a partnership between Bert Nash and the Lawrence School District. Read the full obituary here.