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.

Dorothy K. “Dotty” Billings, Wichita State emerita professor of Anthropology, died Aug. 12, 2022, after a brief illness.

Dotty, 89, taught Anthropology at WSU for 44 years. She studied under Margaret Mead at Columbia University and earned her PhD in Anthropology at the University of Sydney.

A Celebration of Life and lunch are scheduled 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Marcus Welcome Center at WSU.

To honor LaWanda Holt-Fields’ tireless work at Wichita State, a memorial for the McNair Scholars Program has been created in her name. The program provides research training and scholarly experiences to prepare 28 students for graduate studies leading to a Ph.D. As the director of WSU’s McNair Scholars Program, LaWanda touched many lives at Wichita State, and this memorial fund will help continue her legacy.

If you would like to contribute, the fund is available at the WSU Foundation website.

Heashot image of LaWanda.

LaWanda Holt-Fields, director of WSU’s McNair Scholars Program, died Aug. 6, 2022.

LaWanda, 54, touched many lives at Wichita State and beyond, including those she served through the McNair program, as well as the many faculty, staff and students she interacted with on a daily basis.

Details on services are still pending and will be published at LaWanda’s digital obituary when available.

Retired Sergeant Edwin (Ed) Catlin passed away on Aug. 3 after a long battle with lung cancer. Ed retired from WSUPD in January 2016 after 28 years of service. His visitation will be held at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 8 at Colonial Heights Church, 5200 S. Broadway. The funeral will follow at 11 a.m., and the burial will be held in Sedgwick, Kansas.

Dr. Walter Mays, College of Fine Arts professor of music theory and composition, passed away July 11.

Among the many honors he accrued during his distinguished career, he was a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Music Composition, and received the Naumburg Recording Award and Composers Award from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music.

His oratorio, “Voices from The Fiery Wind,” was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1981. He had commissions from many prestigious ensembles, including the Pro Arte String Quartet, and his works were performed throughout the world.

The family of Kenneth “Larry” Keller will host a celebration of life ceremony beginning at 2 p.m. June 23 at Countryside Christian Church (1919 S. Rock Road). Keller worked at the Wichita State University Police Department (WSUPD) for 23 years. Upon his retirement, he moved to Florence, Arizona with his spouse where he passed away April 19.