The world lost a wonderful man when Dr. Don Yoder - a University of Dayton faculty member for 25 years- passed away on April 14, after a battle with cancer.
During his time at the University, Dr.Yoder served as department chair, director of graduate studies and basic course director. He was an expert in instructional communication and the basic course, and his research also covered other topics in interpersonal and organizational communication.
When I began my part-time job teaching news and feature writing at the university many moons ago, Don Yoder was already chairman of the journalism department.
Early on in my stint as a part-time professor at the university he called me into his office.
I was, quite frankly, a tad frightened when he issued me the invitation.
Even though I was a newcomer on the UD teaching staff I had already heard lots of stories about Yoder so when I walked into his office that was next door to my classroom I was, to say the least, a lot more than a little bit nervous.
Close the door,” he told me and then he pointed me to a chair and invited me to take a seat.
As soon as I sat down the lean and lanky educator started asking me all sorts of questions.
Then, when he was finally done asking, he looked down at me, smiled a small smile, offered me his hand and said “Welcome to UD.”
Then, as I rose from my chair to return to my classroom he said “Hey, Bob.”
“Yes Dr. Yoder,” I replied.
The he said “Do me a favor and don’t try to change the world, OK?” .”
I think I said something like “No sir I won’t” and then I headed for my classroom to begin my part-time teaching career and not once did I try to change the world.
Then there is the story about the coffee mug Dr. Yoder received one day after he smelled smoke in the building where we all worked and he made us evacuate the structure.
I presented the mug – which has a firefighter on it and the word “fireman” –to Dr. Yoder at the UD senior dinner in 2004.
UD staffers Cathy Waag and Karen Gibson found the mug while cleaning out his office recently and they mailed it to me. The mug now sits on a table in my living room and I will cherish it forever.
One of the finest tributes to Don came from an unnamed source who said “Dr. Yoder was a professor who always knew how to make people smile. Even on a Monday morning when the day’s hope seemed out of reach, Dr. Yoder always knew how to get the crowd going as we all left class with a smile on our face. After that, things didn’t seem so bad. The day was going to be alright.”
Bob Batz is an area resident and guest columnist. Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.