Word has been received of the passing of Gary R. Schmidt, 62, on Aug. 15 in Two Rivers. Schmidt was a returning adult student who received his UW-Green Bay bachelor’s in Communication and the Arts in 1975. During his time as a student, he was known as a dedicated environmentalist. With two fellow students, he received a $12,000 Ford Foundation Grant to start the Mobile Center for the Study of the Environment, visiting local schools to teach K-12 students about ecology. Following graduation, he worked for several years in the Admissions and Orientation Office and, during this time, won election as president of the UW-Green Bay Alumni Association. He served during the 1978-79 academic year. He later worked for Hamilton Industries, Manitowoc Ice, and most recently for GreenSky Energetics. He is survived by his wife, Cynthia, and four children. A full obituary is archived.
UW-Green Bay faculty and staff leaving campus for the weekend will hear the Weidner Memorial Carillon tolling shortly after 4:30 p.m. today (Friday, June 13) as a mark of respect for longtime faculty member and administrator Donald W. Larmouth, who passed away this week. Founding Chancellor Edward Weidner and Larmouth were close associates, and Larmouth went on to champion music and fine arts initiatives — including development of UW-Green Bay’s arts management program — as both academic dean and as a senior faculty member. The carillon will sound 74 times, for each year of Larmouth’s life (1940-2014). It is expected that carillon music also will be featured next Friday afternoon in association with a campus remembrance service for Larmouth to be held in the adjacent University Union. For more on Larmouth’s passing.
A remembrance gathering is planned on the UW-Green Bay campus next week for Donald W. Larmouth, a longtime faculty member and former academic dean who died Thursday in Green Bay after a lengthy illness. He was 73.
A graveside service will take place 12:30 p.m. Monday (June 16) at the Poplar Grove Cemetery in the Lake Superior community of Grand Marais, Minn. In Green Bay, “A Celebration of Don Larmouth’s Life” is planned for 2:30 p.m. Friday (June 20) in the Phoenix Room of the University Union. Jerry Kuehn of Union Congregational Church will officiate.
Larmouth joined the UW-Green Bay faculty in 1970, teaching courses as diverse as Linguistics, Scientific and Technical Writing, and Chaucer. He was promoted to associate professor in 1973 and full professor in 1985.
Chair of the Communication and the Arts academic program for nearly a decade and former chair of the faculty University Committee, Larmouth accepted appointment in 1988 as UW-Green Bay’s dean of Arts, Sciences and Graduate programs, serving through 1993. As academic dean, he distinguished himself as an advocate for interdisciplinarity and new University offerings spanning the range from pre-engineering to arts management.
Larmouth’s name turns up often in periodic surveys of UW-Green Bay alumni involving favorite and memorable professors. Some also recall he was a loyal supporter of the Phoenix women’s basketball program from its earliest days, even before the team reached national and NCAA Division I prominence.
A student’s 1997 feature story on Larmouth for the Fourth Estate student newsweekly described him as a devoted teacher with the look of an old-English headmaster but a vibrant sense of humor and a penchant for pithy, current analogies.
“His white hair, full beard and glasses. His sport coats with the leather patches on the elbows. His distinguished appearance. Donald Larmouth, professor of linguistics at UWGB, is everything you would expect a typical college professor to look like. But although Larmouth looks like the conventional professor, his style and teaching methods are a refreshing change from the ordinary.”
“He comes up with these one-liners that just make you laugh,” one student was quoted. “His classes are very interesting and enjoyable because of it.”
Larmouth was a prolific author and scholar. His research interests included dialects and language variations. Local topics of inquiry included the persistence of “Kentuck” English in Wisconsin’s cutover region, which developed with the influx of Southerners to Forest County and other locales during and after the early 1900s lumber boom. He also wrote about remnants of Belgian accents and vocabulary in southern Door County, and early in his UW-Green Bay career he helped develop curriculum materials for the study of the native Menominee language and culture.
Larmouth also wrote and spoke often of the conflict and politics inherent in attempts to pass “official language” legislation, both present-day and historic. Pointing to the experience of German immigrants to Wisconsin and more recent examples, he said American society has always resolved such issues in effective fashion without government intervention. He was elected and re-elected chief officer of the American Dialect Society’s Midwest Region.
Larmouth was born Nov. 24, 1940 in Chicago, and moved with his family to northern Minnesota as a child. He said his interest in linguistics dates at least in part to exposure to his Finn-speaking neighbors.
His Northwoods upbringing also contributed to his lifelong passion for fishing and frequent outings in Canada, the Midwest and Florida. He was an accomplished outdoors writer, the author of the books Tarpon on Fly, and Riffles and Back Eddies, and Days and Nights in the Northwoods. He contributed many articles to fishing magazines and journals, and was a member of the Federation of Flyfishers, Classic Anglers of Wisconsin and Trout Unlimited.
Larmouth earned his bachelor’s in English from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and went on for a master’s degree and Ph.D. in linguistics at the University of Chicago.
He returned to UM-Duluth in 1965 to begin his academic career, teaching English, Linguistics and Computer Assisted Composition (the Socrates Program) before being lured by the interdisciplinary communication and linguistic opportunities at the new UW-Green Bay.
In 1980, Larmouth received the UW-Green Bay Founders Association Award for Excellence in Institutional Development. The award recognized his work advancing the graduate program, faculty development, the major in information and computing science, undergraduate communication tracks in graphic design and English as a second language, and more.
Following his time as academic dean, Larmouth returned to the classroom and eventually retired as professor emeritus in 2000. He remained an active citizen of the University community and returned often to campus — including last fall’s Alumni Reunion Days — even as he fought Parkinson’s Disease in the final years of his life.
Larmouth is survived by his wife of 45 years, Judy Ann, and their two children, Mary-Margaret Zindren, St. Paul, Minn., and David Larmouth, McMinnville, Ore., and other family.
In lieu of floral expressions a memorial fund has been established in Donald Larmouth’s name. Proko-Wall Funeral Home is assisting the family. To view the obituary or send an online condolence, visit the Proko-Wall website.
UW-Green Bay alumni once again were recognized as top teachers Monday (March 4), as two were named Golden Apple Award winners in the annual Brown County contest. Green Bay Washington Middle School teacher Kevin Van Ess is a 1984 Communication and the Arts grad who also received his teacher certification in Instrumental and General Music from UW-Green Bay. Kevin Olm ’99, Biology, is part of the West De Pere High School science team that earned the award as a group. Both will be honored, along with their fellow awardees, during a live televised banquet April 17 on WLUK Fox 11. They will also be featured on WLUK and in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, both of which ran stories (below) on Monday’s surprise announcement. Congratulations, grads!
Green Bay Press-Gazette / WLUK Fox 11
Prof. Emeritus Arthur Cohrs (Communication and the Arts) will perform at 2 p.m. on Feb. 13 at Union Congregational Church, 716 S. Madison St. in Green Bay. The lecture and performance is part of the Northeast Wisconsin Piano Teachers’ Forum series. Cohrs taught at UW-Green Bay for 34 years. For more information on the performance click here.
Prof. Emeritus Dean O’Brien, who retired from UW-Green Bay two decades ago but left a rich community legacy with his contributions to Artstreet, Voyageur magazine and the education of numerous working journalists and engaged citizens, died Wednesday (June 16) in Buffalo, Minn. He was 78 years old.
O’Brien joined the new UW-Green Bay as a founding faculty member in 1968. He retired in 1990 as professor emeritus of Communication and the Arts. His primary teaching responsibilities involved journalism courses, and he was the first and longest-serving faculty adviser to the weekly Fourth Estate student newspaper.
At the time of his retirement he shared reflections for an article by 4E editor Shelly Nemetz. He said his teaching strategy with student journalists tended toward hands-off, especially with the newspaper. “I’ve always tried to make myself unnecessary. I like to leave students on their own, for the most part,” he said. “Sometimes they’ll ask me, ‘What are we going to learn in this class?’ And I’ll say, ‘Let’s see when we get done.’”
O’Brien was an outspoken advocate for an activist press and free speech, making numerous presentations and contributing essays and letters to the editor on First Amendment issues during his time in Green Bay. He got his professional start as a reporter and editor for newspapers in Highland Park, Ill.; Madison, Wis.; and Jackson, Mich. He earned his bachelor’s in journalism, and master’s and doctorate in education, all from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.A native of Waukesha, O’Brien served in the Marine Corps at the end of the Korean War before returning to pursue his studies. As a boy and young man, he assisted in his family’s well-known photography business. Among those he met and worked with were America’s first family of acting, the husband-wife team of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, who maintained a Wisconsin residence at their Ten Chimneys estate at Genesee Depot. A touring exhibit of O’Brien Photography’s publicity stills and Hollywood-at-home images of the Lunts was featured in a UW-Green Bay Lawton Gallery show in 1999.
Dean O’Brien’s academic interested extended to landscape design and public spaces. He made several trips to England and Wales, most notably in celebrating his 50th birthday with a months-long walking tour in spring 1982, and with some of the first UW-Green Bay January Interim trips overseas in the 1970s.
Shortly before his retirement from the faculty, O’Brien became editor of Voyageur, the periodical of the Brown County Historical Society published in cooperation with UW-Green Bay and St. Norbert College. He enlisted participation of UW-Green Bay’s graphic communications faculty and advanced students to enhance the magazine’s appearance and provide practical experience for students. He did the research, writing, editing and much of the photography for Voyageur’s 10-year anniversary book, Historic Northeast Wisconsin: a Voyageur Guidebook. He and his wife, Polly, spent two years researching the book, visiting almost all of the 650 historic sites in the 17-county region.
Dean and Polly O’Brien are generally credited as the originators of Artstreet in 1982 when Dean was an officer of the Northeast Wisconsin Arts Council. Their idea for what would become the popular August festival came about to test some principles he had proposed having to do with news theory and public imagery, and to break the stereotype that “arts are an elitist thing.” A proponent of downtown development but also historic preservation, he saw it as a boost for Green Bay’s central city. Polly was the first Artstreet director and Dean was the publicity officer.
The O’Briens were also early proponents of a botanical garden in Green Bay and organized the first Green Bay Botanical Garden Fair. They were honored with the garden’s Founders Award in 1987 for their leadership in establishing the fair.
To be nearer their two sons and their grandchildren, the O’Briens moved to Baraboo in 1995, where he was a columnist for the Baraboo News-Republic newspaper, and then to Minnesota in 2003.
A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday (June 22) at Park Terrace/Park View Ministry Center in Buffalo, Minn.
His most enjoyable experiences at UW-Green Bay?
“I think it’s the low-voltage stuff, like working with the people on the 4E, and the exchanges with students,” O’Brien told the newspaper (no doubt puffing his trademark pipe as he spoke). “Low voltage isn’t like being on center stage with people clapping. It’s thinking every day is pretty pleasant. Happiness lies in low voltage.”