Lawrence ‘Bud’ Wheeless

Lawrence ‘Bud’ Wheeless, 80, Professor Emeritus of communications, died Sept. 15 in Denton. He began teaching at UNT in 1993 and retired in 2004.

Known by many as “Dr. Bud,” he earned his bachelor’s degree at Texas Christian University in 1964, his master’s degree at the University of Houston in 1967 and his doctorate at Wayne State University in 1970.

Prior to teaching at UNT, he was the chair of the communications department at Marshall University and taught at many other schools, including Illinois State University, West Virginia University and Texas Tech University. He served as a researcher and became known on a national and international level for his work in interpersonal and instructional communication. He also served as the editor for Communication Quarterly, an academic journal for the Eastern Communication Association.

His final wish was to have his body donated and used for research at the UNT Health Science Center.

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Virginia Wheeless, who was associate vice president and special assistant to the chancellor for planning and director of the university planning office at UNT.

Christopher Deane

Photo of Christopher DeaneChristopher Deane, 63, of Corinth, a professor of percussion who had taught at UNT since 2000, died Oct. 9.

He taught orchestral timpani and mallets, and he directed the UNT Percussion Players. He brought a wealth of experience to his role — appearing in more than 70 performances as a concert soloist around the world for symphonies and wind ensembles, including the Boston Pops; performing on recordings as a timpanist, percussionist and Hungarian cimbalom soloist; and composing numerous works that were performed in international concerts and recitals worldwide.

He also served as principal percussionist with the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra, principal timpanist of the East Texas Symphony Orchestra and principal timpanist of the Greensboro Symphony. He frequently performed with the Dallas Wind Symphony.

He also had served as faculty percussionist at the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival in Maine and the Vale Veneto Music Festival in Brazil. He earned the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Percussive Arts Society in 2019.

He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and his master’s degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

A Celebration of Life and Music is scheduled at 3:30 p.m. April 2 in the UNT Music Building's Recital Hall. Memorials may be made to the Christopher Deane Principal Percussion Scholarship online (for Area of Support, select “Other” and write in Christopher Deane Principal Percussion Scholarship), or checks can be mailed to UNT Advancement, 1155 Union Circle #311250, Denton, TX 76203, with the scholarship name in the memo line.

Barry G. King

Barry G. King, 86, Professor Emeritus of accounting who served as acting dean of what is now the G. Brint Ryan College of Business from 1971 to 1973, died Sept. 19 in Denton. He began teaching at UNT in 1970 and retired in 1995.

King, who also served as chair of the accounting department and as the director of graduate business programs at North Texas, conducted some of the university’s early oil and gas accounting research.

He graduated from Hardin Simmons University with a bachelor’s in accounting and a master’s degree in economics. He then taught at Ohio State University, where he earned his doctorate in accounting, and he later taught at Oklahoma State University and studied at the University of Houston.

Next to teaching, he enjoyed traveling and learning about different cultures. King took part in multiple overseas programs, which he also had his family join in, teaching courses in Europe and Asia as well as in Guam and Uruguay.

Memorial service plans will be announced soon.


Dotty Griffith

Dotty Griffith, 71, of Dallas, a pioneering food journalist who had taught food writing at the Mayborn School of Journalism since 2016, died Sept. 13.

She worked for The Dallas Morning News for 36 years, editing the food section and working as the dining critic. Her articles appeared in The New York Times and Southern Living. She also wrote a dozen cookbooks and hosted the KRLD radio show “In the Kitchen with Dotty.” She has been credited with helping usher in modern Texas cuisine and establishing Texas as a serious food region, and her achievements earned her the Legends Award from the Press Club of Dallas.

She later worked for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the Katy Trail Weekly.

Services are scheduled for late October or early November.

Dotty Griffith

Anthony ‘Tony’ Damico

Photo of Anthony DamicoAnthony ‘Tony’ Damico, 87, of Denton, Professor Emeritus of foreign languages and the classics, died Aug. 27. He started his professional career at UNT in 1966 and remained here until his retirement in 2001.

Along with being a foreign languages professor, he served as the head of the Latin and Honors programs. He had a passion for learning and languages, especially Latin and Greek — classes he was instrumental in organizing at North Texas. He also was devoted to spending time with his family and always enjoyed being around his friends.

He served in the U.S Army from 1955 to 1957, serving in the Korean War. He graduated with honors from Xavier University with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in classical languages and earned a doctoral degree from the University of Cincinnati.

A memorial celebration will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Mulkey-Bowles-Montgomery Funeral Home Chapel in Denton.

Jerry Yeric

Photo of Jerry YericJerry Yeric, 81, Professor Emeritus of political science who taught at UNT from 1970 to 2002, died June 2. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history and political science at Western Michigan University and his master’s degree and doctorate in political science at Ohio State University. At UNT he was named an Honors Professor and in 1983 received the ’Fessor Graham Award — the highest honor bestowed by the student body — for his outstanding and unselfish service to students.

With research interests including the effects of the media on American politics and the impact of public opinion on the government, he was the author of Mass Media and the Politics of Change and co-wrote Public Opinion: The Visible Politics with fellow UNT political science professor John Todd. After retiring, Jerry relocated to Hot Springs Village and served on numerous boards and committees in the city and as president of its tennis association. He also enjoyed fishing, kayaking, swimming and local politics.

Kenneth Koelln

Photo of Kenneth KoellnKenneth Koelln, 78, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, an economics professor from 1992 to 2007, died May 17. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 20 years and received a Purple Heart from his two tours in the Vietnam War. His research interests included healthcare spending by the elderly, healthcare access and alternative financing options for healthcare. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the Clarkson College of Technology, a master’s degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, an M.B.A. from San Diego State University and his doctorate from the University of Florida. He loved the Texas Rangers, Florida Gators and chocolate.

Reg Westmoreland

Photo of Reg WestmorelandReg Westmoreland (’47, ’56 M.A.), 94, of Denton, Professor Emeritus of journalism and former head of the journalism department who steered national accreditation for the department, died May 15.

He earned his doctorate from the University of Missouri. He was a reporter and editor for the Dallas Times-Herald and taught at Abilene Christian University. He worked at UNT from 1964 to 1994, with a two-year break in which he served as associate dean at Pepperdine University from 1983 to 1985.

Reg served as director of news and publications at UNT for two years, then taught full-time. He helped establish the journalism graduate program and served as chair of the journalism department from 1974 to 1988. The department became the only school in the state with a nationally accredited professional master’s program. He was active in many journalism organizations, serving as a Southern Fund Fellow and president of several groups, including the Texas Journalism Education Council, the American Society of Journalism School Administrators, and the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication.

In his free time, he enjoyed gardening and reading, and he was known for his generosity and fun personality.

A Celebration of Life service is scheduled at 10 a.m. July 6 at Denton Bible Church.

Sandra J. Combest

Sandra J. 'Sandi' Combest, 84, of Denton, Professor Emerita of dance who shaped the dance program within the Department of Dance and Theatre in her work at UNT from 1966 to 2001, died May 3. She brought dance from the physical education department to an accredited academic program in what is now the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. She directed the creation and implementation of the B.A. and B.F.A. in dance and the M.A. in interdisciplinary studies in dance. As department chair from 1993 to 2001, she oversaw several renovations to the program’s spaces.

She also brought recognition to UNT through student state and national performances; publications in numerous journals; as editor of Dance Impulse: The International Journal of Dance, Science, Medicine and Education from 1994 to 1997; as a member of the National Executive Board for the American College Dance Festival Association; and as board president for the Texas Council on the Arts in Education. She coordinated regional festivals and one national American College Dance Festival hosted at UNT.

She also choreographed dances throughout the U.S., Europe and India. Her collaboration with international sculptor Jesús Bautista Moroles (’78) was presented in art galleries throughout the world. She founded and directed her own professional modern dance company, Dance Theatre of the Southwest, raising $130,000 in grants.

In 1998, she received the Mary McLarry Bywater’s Lifetime Contribution to Dance Award from the Dance Council of North Texas, acknowledging her influence on dance in this region.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Sul Ross State University, earned her master’s degree from Texas Tech University and pursued postgraduate work at Texas Woman’s University. She also taught at schools in Odessa and Lubbock and danced professionally in New York City before coming to UNT.

Ted Donald Colson

Photo of Ted Donald ColsonTed Donald Colson, 92, Oklahoma City, Professor Emeritus of communication studies who helped develop the KNTU radio station during his time at North Texas, died March 11. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Drury College and his master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Oklahoma. He worked at UNT from 1956 to 1993, also serving as head of radio and TV studies in what was then the speech and drama department. He received the Shelton Excellence in Teaching Award, and in 1995 was named an Honorary Alumnus by the UNT Alumni Association.