William H. Richardson

Associate Professor Emeritus Bill Richardson, passed away Sept. 6 at the age of 86.

Richardson joined the Department of Mathematics in 1962 and retired from the role in 2013. He continued to teach for the department as associate professor emeritus through spring 2017.

During his 55 years of service at Wichita State, he has made significant contributions to the development of the math department and provided high-quality administrative services, including serving as assistant chair and then associate chair, from 1964 to 2004. Richardson is greatly respected by students and faculty and will be missed.

A time of remembrance for Richardson will be held by the department at a later date to be announced.

A memorial fund is open to donations from the WSU Foundation and Alumni Engagement.

William H. Richardson

Associate Professor Emeritus Bill Richardson, passed away Sept. 6 at the age of 86.

Richardson joined the Department of Mathematics in 1962 and retired from the role in 2013. He continued to teach for the department as associate professor emeritus through spring 2017.

During his 55 years of service at Wichita State, he has made significant contributions to the development of the math department and provided high-quality administrative services, including serving as assistant chair and then associate chair, from 1964 to 2004. Richardson is greatly respected by students and faculty and will be missed.

A time of remembrance for Richardson will be held by the department at a later date to be announced.

A memorial fund is open to donations from the WSU Foundation and Alumni Engagement.

Dr. Ken Ciboski

Dr. Ken Ciboski, former professor of political science, passed away July 30 at the age of 89.

Ciboski served as professor for the university for 48 years until his retirement in 2017. He actively engaged with the public through his contributions to public television and public radio, further cementing his role as an influential voice in his field.

Born in Goodland, Kansas, he spent his early years farming with his father and working as a typesetter for the local newspaper. Ken earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Kansas, followed by a Ph.D. from the University of Washington.

A memorial fund is open to donations from the WSU Foundation and Alumni Engagement.

Dr. Mel Kahn

Dr. Mel Kahn, professor emeritus of political science, passed away Sept. 13 at the age of 92.

Kahn started teaching at Wichita State in 1970 and described himself as a “lifelong political junkie” and took on active support for the Democratic Party. He received the Marquis Who’s Who Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018.

Kahn taught political science at WSU for over 50 years before being given the title of professor emeritus following his retirement.

Graveside service will be at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 18 at Old Mission Cemetery. A memorial has been made with the Circle of Friends at Larksfield place, and a memorial fund is also open to donations from the WSU Foundation and Alumni Engagement.

Photo of Dr. Betty Elder.

Dr. Betty Lou Elder, longtime professor in the School of Nursing, passed away Feb. 7. During her time at Wichita State, Betty taught several courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Her teaching of pathophysiology helped baccalaureate, master and doctoral students prepare for their degrees and careers as health care practitioners. She was essential to the graduate nursing program and the ultimate success of graduating nurse practitioner students. She retired as an associate professor in 2019.

Betty graduated from Smith Center High School in Smith Center, Kansas and pursued a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Kansas State University and Wichita State University. Betty earned many degrees over her lifetime, including a doctorate in genetics from Texas A&M University and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction-science education from the University of Nebraska. 

Betty enjoyed a long and illustrious teaching career. She became a second-grade teacher in 1974 and a first-grade teacher in 1976. As an adventure, she left Kansas temporarily to take a position as a park ranger in Yellowstone National Park and was part of the forest fire team. When she returned, she began her post-secondary teaching career at Fort Hays State University and Texas A&M University. She was an instructor at multiple colleges before joining the WSU School of Nursing in 2003. 

Donations can be made to the Betty Elder Memorial for Nursing through the WSU Foundation, or donors can mail a check to 1845 Fairmount, Box 2 Wichita, KS 67260 (reference Betty Elder in the memo).

Ty Ramsey, research technician for the National Institute for Aviation Research, died Saturday, Nov. 12, at his residence in Sedgwick.

Ty was a lifelong resident of Sedgwick resident and graduate of Sedgwick High School. He was a U.S. Navy veteran and served two tours in Afghanistan. He was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Halstead, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.

Danette Baker, program director for the Theatre Department in the College of Fine Arts, passed away on Nov. 12. Services will be held Wednesday, Nov. 16 at Holy Savior Catholic Church, 3000 E. 13th Street North in Wichita. A rosary ceremony will begin at 10 a.m., and the funeral mass will begin at 11 a.m. Afterward, there will be a funeral procession to Ascension Cemetary, 7200 E. 45th Street North in Bel Aire.

Danette was a frequent director and member of the acting company for Seven Devils Playwrights Conference in McCall, Idaho, a national conference focusing on new play development. She is a Society of American Fight Directors Certified Teacher and founder of the Wichita Unrehearsed Shakespeare Society.

Danette acted in theatres across the country, appearing with the Aegean Theatre Company, American Globe Theatre, and the Director’s Company in New York, Monomoy Theatre on Cape Cod, and Cleveland Playhouse in Ohio. In Wichita, Danette appeared with Cabaret Oldtown, Chamber Music in the Barn, Prairie Pines Festivals, Wichita Center for the Arts, Guild Hall Players, Signature Theatre, Wichita Shakespeare Company, and Wichita Community Theatre.

Danette was an eight-time recipient of the Mary Jane Teall Theatre award for Outstanding Acting, a recipient of the 2012 Ruth McCormick Outstanding Theatre Educator Award, twice recognized as the Outstanding Female Performer in the Society of American Fight Directors Advanced Actor Combatant Workshop, received Certificates of Commendation from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region V for her direction of A Hedda Gabler, and her fight choreography for “Twelfth Night.”

Brian Brown, NIAR director of Robotics and Automation, passed away Monday, Oct. 31. In his 20 years at Wichita State, Brian left a lasting imprint on multiple facets of Industry and Defense Programs, from network structure, to the success of multiple laboratories, to long-term friendships with countless students, faculty and staff. Among other things, he will be remembered for his charisma, personality, technical expertise and remarkable intellect.

A memorial scholarship has been established in Brian’s honor. Donations can be made here or mailed to the Brian Brown Memorial, c/o WSU Foundation, 1845 Fairmount, Campus Box 2, Wichita, KS 67260-0002. Funds will be used for tuition, fees, books and emergency needs for students working in NIAR’s Robotics and Automation Lab.

A graveside service will be held soon in Augusta. Brian’s obituary can be viewed here.

Memories, thoughts, stories and photos of Brian can be shared here.

Brian filled many roles – officially and unofficially – and his position will never fully be replaced. However, in the interim, Shawn Ehrstein, NIAR director of Emerging Technologies and CAD/CAM, will assume his responsibilities until we determine next steps.

Dr. Deemathie De Silva, known to many former students as Dr. D, passed away Sept. 29. A celebration of life is scheduled 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Cozine Life Events Center (11500 E. 21st St. N. Wichita, KS).

Dr. De Silvea is credited with helping thousands of underdog students get their degrees. She was the longtime director of a WSU program that provides free tutoring and resources to students from low-income families, students with disabilities and potential first-generation college grads.

She also helped secure millions in federal dollars for students due to her ties to the business community. In addition to this, her work with the World Trade Council of Wichita, an organization co-founded by her late husband, Dr. Dharma de Silva, has impacted international business in south-central Kansas.

In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to the Wichita State University Foundation for the benefit of the Dr. Deema de Silva Memorial Fund, which will be directed toward student support funds by the family.

Contributions may be made via the Wichita State University Foundation (1845 Fairmount, Wichita, KS 67260-0002). Online gifts may be made at the website below. foundation.wichita.edu/memorials-honors/.

Headshot Image of Sherry Chapman.

Sherry Chapman, retired associate clinical professor, died Aug. 21 after an extended illness. Sherry taught at the Wichita State School of Social Work from 2007 to 2017.

Sherry positively impacted thousands of people both as an instructor, as a licensed clinical social worker and as a registered play therapist. She received her Bachelor of Social Work from WSU and her Master of Social Work from the University of Kansas. Sherry taught across the social work curriculum and provided support and leadership with the annual social work POWER Conference at Wichita State.

A viewing will be today at 6 p.m., followed by a rosary at 7 p.m. St. Mary Catholic Parish. Services for Sherry will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 25 at St. Mary Catholic Parish in Derby, Kansas. Her interment will be at Hill Crest Cemetery (also in Derby) following the service. In lieu of flowers, donations will be made to WSU’s School of Social Work.