Susan Parsons

Dr. Susan Parsons, a former faculty member in the School of Nursing, passed away Dec. 6. She served at Wichita State for 15 years, starting in 2008. Susan contributed significantly during her 15-year tenure, teaching medical-surgical and complex care courses from the inception of the Accelerated BSN program. She also supervised nursing students in practicum settings at Wesley and Ascension Via Christi.   

Susan was also passionate about community service, volunteering her time and expertise at events such as the annual Point-in-Time Homeless event and at La Familia Senior and Community Center. 

A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16 at Andover United Methodist Church. A memorial has been established with the Kansas Humane Society, 3313 N. Hillside.

Phyllis Fletcher

Phyllis Fletcher, a longtime faculty member in the School of Nursing, passed away Nov. 14. Phyllis became a clinical educator at Wichita State in 1987. During her time at WSU, Phyllis taught didactic leadership classes, managed the skills learning lab and was instrumental in starting a critical care didactic course and corresponding clinical practicums. Phyllis had a profound influence on many people in the School of Nursing and is remembered as a wonderful person and mentor. She retired in 2017 and is a member of the Bender of Twigs.

Phyllis graduated from Roosevelt High School in Emporia, Kansas in 1967 and Bethany Hospital School of Nursing in 1971. She married her husband, Lee, in 1973 and they had two children, Rachel and Jim. She graduated from WSU with her BS in Nursing in 1976 and earned her master’s degree in 1980. Phyllis worked as a nursing instructor at the Wesley School of Nursing and later as a staff nurse in the Coronary Care Unit. Her areas of clinical practice were medical surgical nursing, with the specialty area of critical care nursing.

After retirement Phyllis stayed active through volunteering at Guadalupe Clinic, Senior Services (Meals on Wheels), United Methodist Open Door (Klothes Kloset), and Wesley Hospital. She was also a member of the Nurses Honor Guard, a group of volunteer nurses who pay tribute to nurses at the time of their death by performing the Nightingale Tribute at the funeral or memorial service. She enjoyed playing pickleball, shopping, baking, gardening and traveling. Phyllis and her husband, Lee, took great pride in growing and maintaining Rachel’s Garden, in memory of their daughter who passed away in 2006. The garden was featured in the 2022 Wichita Garden Tour.

A celebration of life will be held in spring 2024. Donations can be made to the following memorials: Open Door for Klothes Kloset (P.O. box 2756, Wichita, KS 67201-2756) and the Rachel Fletcher Memorial Scholarship through WSU Foundation and Alumni Engagement (donations can be made online or donors can mail a check to 1845 Fairmount, box 2 Wichita, KS 67260 and reference Rachel Fletcher in the memo).

Wayne Woolsey

Wayne Woolsey may not have graduated from Wichita State, but he left a lasting legacy at the university and for the thousands of students who will walk its campus. In his lifetime, he and his wife, Kay, gave more than $13 million to support the university, and his generosity has laid a foundation for countless dreams to flourish here at WSU.

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.”