Friends and Family
J. J. Atkins, Aug. 28 in Mesquite, TX.
Frederick Renner Gehlbach of Woodway, TX, died at home Nov. 9, 2020, surrounded by his family. Gehlbach was born July 5, 1935, in Steubenville, OH, and grew up in Columbus, OH. He was passionate and curious about the natural world from an early age. He pursued zoology, geology and conservation at Cornell University, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Gehlbach earned a doctorate from the University of Michigan, where he met the love of his life, Nancy Young, with whom he shared his love and knowledge of the natural world. They married in 1960 and began their 60-year adventure. The couple relocated to Waco when Fred began his Baylor teaching career, which spanned from 1963 to 1995 as a professor of biology, ecology and environmental studies. After retirement, Gehlbach continued as a professor emeritus, publishing articles and mentoring graduate students into the 2010s. His life was enriched by lifelong friendships with childhood friends, neighbors, former students and other educators. He authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, including three books, and his curiosity never waned. His book, Mountain Islands and Desert Seas: A Natural History of the U.S-Mexican Borderlands, was a culmination of his study funded by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Gehlbach also wrote The Eastern Screech Owl: Life History, Ecology, and Behavior in the Suburbs and Countryside, the first long-term study of a native bird in a city. His third book, Messages from the Wild: An Almanac of Suburban Natural and Unnatural History, told of his observations on the 15-acre wildlife preserve he established behind his home and was nominated for the John Burroughs Award. In retirement, Gehlbach enjoyed teaching local students, neighbors and grandsons by leading them on nature walks, owl banding expeditions and bird watching excursions. He continued teaching and sharing his love of the natural world in various ways, including writing a monthly article for the Waco Tribune-Herald, consulting with Cameron Park Zoo and donating his studies to Mayborn Museum. Gehlbach relished traveling the world with Nancy and keeping up with friends he met in far-flung locations. He was an active member of Waco’s Lake Shore Baptist Church for more than 40 years and enjoyed serving Meals on Wheels to local residents. He was known for his easy laugh and welcoming smile; he was a gentle, generous and loving soul to all with whom he interacted throughout his life. He was preceded in death by his parents and his grandson Evan McElroy. Gehlbach is survived by his loving wife Nancy; daughter Gretchen McElroy, BA ’86, of El Paso, her husband Jeffrey, BA ’81, JD ’85, and their son Eamonn; son Mark Gehlbach, BA ’89, of Dallas, his wife Christy, BA ’89, and their son Grant; brother Don of Columbus, OH, his wife Barbara and their son Rick; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
Clyde Elbert Hughes of Baytown, TX, died Sept. 10, 2020. Hughes was born April 28, 1924, in Chester, TX, to Elbert and Ida Hughes. He was married to Julia Ann Clark for 67 years. Clyde worked for Exxon for 34 years and was a member of Houston’s Memorial Baptist Church. He had a passion for sports, hunting, fishing and gardening. He is preceded in death by his parents and brother Buford Hughes. He is survived by his wife Julia Ann Clark Hughes, and daughter Mary Ann Marshall, BS ’81, her husband Mickey V. Marshall and their daughters Lauren Ashley Marshall and Kelly Lynn Marshall.
Dr. Harold W. Osborne died Aug. 4, 2020, at Providence St. Catherine Center in Waco. Osborne was born Sept. 5, 1930, in El Dorado, AR, the fifth child of a hardscrabble mule skinner. He was the only one of six children to attend college and said that he knew from age 8 that he would one day teach sociology at Baylor University. After earning a Bachelor of Arts from Ouachita College in Arkansas, Osborne earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. Soon after, he landed the exact job he had predicted and was a beloved Baylor sociology professor for the next 44 years. Osborne chaired the sociology department from 1990 until his retirement in 2002. He was a U.S. Army weapons instructor at Fort Campbell along the Kentucky-Tennessee border and Fort Jackson in Columbia, SC, from 1952 to 1954. Osborne married the love of his life, June Williams, in 1953, and the couple enjoyed 54 years together before her death in 2007. A seasoned world traveler, he visited all 50 states and more than 20 countries on three continents throughout his life, often accompanying June on her many birdwatching excursions. She would have described him as the “rarest bird she ever met.” He was indeed a singularly extraordinary man. Throughout his four decades at Baylor, Osborne touched tens of thousands of lives. He was named the 1977 Outstanding Professor of the Year, and his students might argue that he deserved that honor more than once. Alumni and faculty alike remember him as kind, witty, quick with a joke and a smile, and an inspiration to many. Barbara Walker, BA ’55, the first black woman to graduate from Baylor, said he was especially supportive and instrumental in guiding her career as a social worker and pastor. Osborne was anti-racist before it was cool and implanted a strong sense of social justice into those close to him — not so much with words as with actions, setting a powerful example of compassion and love for all. He relished a steaming bowl of gumbo and a cool slice of lemon meringue pie almost as much as spending time with his extended family, innumerable friends, the Baylor community, neighbors at Stillwell Retirement Community and the various churches he attended. Never lacking for intellectual curiosity, Osborne remained an avid reader throughout his life and was always ready to discuss whatever books had his attention. He was an eternal optimist, and his personal motto was, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff.” He effortlessly discerned the faintest of silver linings in the darkest of clouds. Family and friends knew him as a steady rock of unshakeable hope, colored with bottomless generosity, truly unconditional love, genuine kindness, gentle wisdom and a playful sense of humor that never left him, even after a stroke in 2012 altered his mobility. Hugs from Osborne were among the best a human could get. He is survived by sons Michael and Sam, BA ’93, and their partners, Carey Casey and Audra Meador; grandchildren Kelsey and Randy McGee, Wheeler and Shauna Osborne, Jackson Osborne, and Kaleb Meador; and great-grandchildren Tripp, Barrett, Morgan, and Anson.
Edith Louise Tindall Storey Towns, June 27 in Houston. Edith Louise Tindall Storey Towns was born on November 3, 1936 in Marlin, Texas, the daughter of Lewis Everett (Bonnie) Tindall and Mary Frances (Smith) Tindall. She passed away June 27, 2020, in Houston, Texas. Edith grew up in Calvert, Texas, and attended Baylor University in 1954 and 1955 on a Valedictorian scholarship. She married Billy Storey - a fellow Baylor student and graduate - and moved to Pasadena, Texas a few years later. Edith was a lifelong teacher, both in and out of the classroom, a worldwide traveler, and later the beloved wife of Thomas Towns for 34 years. She served as an Elder at her church, and was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was extremely proud of her Baylor heritage. It began in the early 1900’s with the attendance of her grandmother - Myrtle Looney (Smith). Her mother - Mary Frances Smith (Tindall), attended in the 1930’s and her Aunt, Edith Smith (Knapp) graduated with a BA in 1938. Her daughter - Tamera Storey (Arrington) followed her Mom and Dad with a JD in 1982, and a grandson - Andrew Sharpe - became the fifth generation to attend, graduating with a BS in Economics in 2012. She was a member of Delta Alpha Pi, which later reorganized into Kappa Alpha Theta. She kept up with fellow students and even teachers throughout the years, and was quick to support Baylor with a purchase of a memorial brick at McLane Stadium. She is survived by her husband, Thomas Towns, and daughters Shelley Storey Fuller and Tamera Arrington Mac Farlane (husband Don). She also leaves 5 grandchildren, 4 step-grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, her sister Gail Hopcus (husband Floyd) and family, her cousins and those who were family in heart.
Susan M. Vartanian, Aug. 11 in Spring, TX.