Dianne Willer-Sly ’80

Dianne Willer-SlyIn September of 2015 Dianne transitioned from working full-time (for more than 16 years with HealthPartners Geriatrics as a nurse practitioner) to a new position as clinical assistant professor with the University of Minnesota School of Nursing. There she teaches courses within the Doctor of Nursing Practice program and maintains a Faculty Clinical Practice with HealthPartners two days a week. In November 2015 Dianne became president of Minnesota Nurse Practitioners, where she is leading the organization to expand networking and professional support for nurse practitioners statewide.

Dianne also returned to Spain for the first time since her study abroad experience in 1978. She and her husband, Wes, participated in a three-week bike tour of more than 400 kilometers through the region of Catalonia. Dianne continues to live in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, with Wes. Their son, Taylor, is a recent computer and electrical engineering graduate from Michigan Technological University, now working in Helsinki, Finland, and their daughter, Katy ’12, is a master’s degree candidate at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

James Hightower ’58

Jim died on October 3, 2016. He was the son of Raymond Hightower, who was a professor of sociology and dean at Kalamazoo College and a Kalamazoo City Commissioner and Mayor. Jim’s mother, Jeanne Matthews Hightower, was an elementary school teacher and reading specialist. Academics were central in the family that included three boys, all of whom graduated from K.

At K Jim majored in economics. He met his future wife, Sharon Wiley ’59, the first day of classes. They married in 1957 and moved to California in 1959. Both Jim and Sharon received degrees from Claremont Graduate University. Jim earned a Master’s degree and Ph.D. in economics. He taught at the University of Richmond for three years and, in 1969, began his 35-year career in the California State University system, which included teaching and administrative positions at CSU-Fullerton and in the CSU Chancellor’s Office. He is survived by Sharon, his wife of 59 years, their son, daughter-in-law and grandaughter, among other family members.

Anne (Whitfield) Nordhus ’48

Anne died on September 27, 2016, at her home in Chico, California. She earned her B.A. in English at K and then earned a Master’s degree in the subject from Breadloaf College (Middlebury, Vermont). In 1952 she took a three-year teaching job at Robert College in Istanbul. While sailing to Turkey she met her husband, Philip Nordhus. They dated in Turkey, married in London and honeymooned in Europe. In 1957 they settled in Chico, and both worked at Chico State University. Anne taught in the departments of English and education and worked in administration. News of her passing reached BeLight from Anne’s friend and classmate Jackie Mallinson. “Annie was one of the stars in our class,” wrote Jackie, “very friendly and outgoing, and loved by all. We were in college during the ‘Big Band’ era. One of our classmates, Jack Dentler, started ‘broadcasting’ Big Band records from his room in Hoben South to the girls then living in Hoben North. This was during the height of World War II, and our freshman year there were only 35 men on campus, and they lived in Hoben South. The ‘overflow’ of freshman women were housed on Hoben North for a few semesters before the return of the WWII vets. (Of course, there was a wall dividing the two halves of Hoben.)

“Jack’s ‘broadcasting’ led to the birth of the campus radio station, WJMD, the call letters coming from his initials–John M. Dentler. I’m sharing this because it is my understanding that Annie died quietly while Big Band music was playing in the background. And her love of it began as a freshman in Hoben North. Not a bad way to go.”

James Morrell ’53

Jim died on February 28, 2017. He was 86 years old. Jim grew up in Kalamazoo and during his four years a K was deeply involved in many activities. He was elected Freshman Class President and was a member of Pi Kappa Delta (president) and Century Forum. He served in the Student Senate and as editor of the Index. He participated in Forensics, Bridge Club and the WJMD radio station, and he earned a letter on the varsity Golf Team. “Kalamazoo College was a landmark in my life. It completely changed me,” he said. Jim graduated with a degree in history and speech. He served in the U.S. Army for two years following graduation. In 1955 he began a 31-year career with the Saga Corporation, a tenure that included two years (1955-57) managing the food service program at Kalamazoo College and various positions at the district, regional and corporate levels. He retired in 1986 as vice chariman. Jim served on the College’s board of trustees from 1985 to 2000. He and his wife, Marylyn (Eck) Morrell ’56, first met on campus in the fall of 1952. “The Kalamazoo College learning experience prepares the student not just to enter one field,” he said, “but to enter any field. That’s power.” Through his entire life Jim remained committed to the educational excellence of his alma mater.

Mary (Mertz) Covert ’55

Mary  died on April 2, 2017. She graduated from K with a B.A. in art. She also played tennis and participated in College Singers, the French Club and the Bach Festival Chorus. She continued her education at Colgate Rochester Divinity School, where she graduated (1958) with a Master of Divinity degree.  She married Richard Covert on August 6, 1961, and they have three children. She is survived by her husband and children and six grandchildren. Over the years, Mary enjoyed a career in making and teaching art, focusing particularly in ceramics, textile design and quilting. She was particularly known for her exploration of different art techniques and the sharing of her experiences and knowledge with other artists. Her work has been exhibited and sold at various art shows. She also was active in churches throughout her adult life, including singing in the choirs and being on committees.

Ray Comeau ’63

Ray has published a book of poems titled Watch With Me, Angels: 75 Stanzas of Sheer Poetry From a Course in Miracles. Ray and his wife, Christine, live in the Wisconsin Dells. Ray majored in English at K and played on the Hornet football team. He earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. in education from the University of Chicago.

Matthew J. Christensen ’92

Matthew J. ChristensenMatthew was awarded the 2017 American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship and the 2017 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipends grant to support the research and writing of a scholarly study, Unsovereign Bodies: The State and the Individual Subject in African Detective Fiction. The book traces the history of the detective genre as a mode of critique in Anglophone African writing. Matthew is a professor in the Department of Literatures and Cultural Studies at the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley. At K he majored in English and studied abroad in Sierra Leone. He earned his master’s and doctorate degrees at UCLA.

Barb Turner DeRose

Barb sent a photo of members of Kalamazoo College’s class of 1979 who had gathered in Grand Haven to celebrate their 60th birthdays. Pictured are (l-r): front row– Rollin Marquis, Mary Seaberg King, Carla Farthing Sykora; second row–Daulat Oppusunggu, Ruth Blackburn, Mary Whittaker Duncan, Dan Duncan, Barb Turner DeRose, Chris DeRose; back row–Chris and Jeannine Morris, David Blackburn, John O’Brien, Ken King, Leslie and Don Chinick and Bob Sykora. Also attending but not pictured was Nancy Nelson. “Ruth Blackburn, Jeannine Morris and Leslie Chinick are spouses of K-79ers,” wrote Barb, “and we include them in the Hornet ‘family’.” Congratulations, all.

Mary Sauer-Games ’83

The American Psychological Association (APA) has appointed Mary to the position of senior director, PsycINFO. She manages the development and growth of APA research databases, while expanding their coverage and uncovering new product opportunities. She also is responsible for the ongoing development of APA PsycNET, the organization’s search platform that seeks new ways of strengthening the connections for students, researchers, and psychologists between the questions that they need to answer and the most relevant information available to meet that need. The APA is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States.