December 5, 2000
College Mourns Loss of Longtime Professor
Howard Gage, an influential and beloved professor of math and computer science at Whitworth for the past 31 years, died Saturday in his sleep after a 10-year battle with Parkinson's disease. He was 61.
Whitworth faculty, staff and students learned of Gage's death Monday as they prepared for the President's annual Christmas reception. In a message to the campus community, President Bill Robinson stated that, in Gage's honor, the reception would go on.
"Howard would be horrified to learn that any party was called off on his account (or for any other reason, for that matter); I think Christmas cheer is exactly what we need," Robinson's message stated. "A part of my own sadness has revolved around the loss of Howard's creation of joy on this campus. Now, everyone in our community will have to chip in a little more happiness to make up for Howard's departure. And we can do that in the hope and confidence that Howard, now with his savior, is happier than ever."
Gage graduated from Whitworth in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. He taught math at Ritzville High School for one year before enrolling at the University of Oregon to complete a master's and Ph.D. in mathematics. After completing his graduate studies, Gage returned to Whitworth as a math professor in 1969 and became one of the college's most beloved and influential teachers.
"Howard's influence in the college goes far beyond his own classroom," said Vice President for Academic Affairs Tammy Reid in a recent issue of Whitworth's alumni magazine. "(Fifteen years ago), he wrote Whitworth's first computer grant for the Education Department so that future K-12 teachers would learn technology. (In 1994), during his sabbatical, he studied calculus reform, got interested in collaborative teaching, and started a faculty study group on pedagogy. And along with fellow faculty members... he's been helping the college with issues surrounding the American with Disabilities Act, making suggestions from his own experience. It's hard to know exactly where Howard will contribute next."
In addition to teaching and developing numerous mathematics courses, Gage almost single-handedly created Whitworth's respected computer science program. Ken Pecka, Whitworth's director of instructional resources, says Gage probably influenced every Whitworth student who has gone on to a career in computer science and technology over the past 30 years. He also consulted with numerous local technology firms and provided workshops and guest lectures for high schools around Washington State.
In a faculty appreciation forum, one former student now working with a local technology firm paid the following tribute to Gage: "I want to thank you for being an excellent teacher. I want to thank you for caring about us not only as students but also as people. I remember when you patted me on the back and said... 'I see a lot of talent in you. I'm going to take care of you.'"
Gage received Whitworth's Faculty Distinguished Service Award in 1984 and 1989 - a rare double achievement. He also served as chair of the Math/Computer Science Department and the Science Division, and he served on numerous high-profile college committees.
In addition to his work at the college, Gage was an active member and volunteer at Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church. He played a key role on the church's long range planning committee, helped teach several adult Sunday School classes and served on committees which selected two of the church's most recent pastors.
Gage is survived by his wife, Judy, and his children, Brian and Julienne.
Contributions to the Howard Gage Memorial Scholarship Fund can be sent to Whitworth College, 300 W. Hawthorne Rd., Spokane, WA 99251. If you have any questions, please contact June Hanson or Dolly Jackson at 800-532-4668 or 509-777-4343.
Bill Robinson, president, (509) 777-4665 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tammy Reid, vice president for academic affairs, (509) 777-3702 or email@example.com.
Greg Orwig, director of communications, (509) 777-4580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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