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.

Image of Dr. Keller.

Dr. James Keller, Student Health Services (SHS) medical director, passed away June 1. Keller was the medical director for SHS for more than 40 years. Services for Keller will include a rosary at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 8, and a funeral mass at 10 a.m., Thursday, June 9. Both events will be at Church of the Magdalen Catholic Church.

Keller worked with numerous SHS staff and directors to implement new health services that would benefit students and guided treatment protocols and consultation for providers and nurses. Keller also assisted in the design of the Wichita Student Wellness Center that opened in 2020. He was a steadfast medical consultant during the COVID-19 pandemic and always made sure SHS had the most recent information to care for students. 

Keller’s humor, patience and kindness with the SHS staff and WSU students will be greatly missed and his service to the university will forever be appreciated. He is survived by his wife Donna, children and grandchildren. 

Image of Dan Close.

Dan Close, associate professor of communication, passed away Saturday, May 28. He was 63 years old.

Close was a first-generation college student and a long-time Shocker who earned two degrees from WSU: a bachelor’s in journalism in 1981 and an master’s in communication in 1993. As a student, Close was the editor of The Sunflower and the department’s outstanding senior. Close started as an assistant professor in 1995 after a successful career as a reporter for The Wichita Eagle.

Close taught a wide range of courses, though mostly in journalism. He served as the faculty advisor to The Sunflower for 16 years. Close’s recent passion was his first-year seminar, “Exploring WSU in your photos and words.” The course was a blend of journalism and photojournalism, but with a focus on encouraging students to explore and report on the campus and culture at Wichita State.