Administrators

Jerry Dake

Jerry Dake, 80, a longtime employee in the G. Brint Ryan College of Business, died Aug. 28 in Denton. Since 2001, he served in numerous positions, including executive lecturer and managing director of the Center for Quality and Productivity, executive director and director of the Center for Decision and Information Technologies, and senior lecturer for the Department of Information Technology and Decision Sciences. He previously served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and as an assistant professor for the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School from 1965 to 1967; as an assistant and associate professor of finance at the Georgia Institute of Technology from 1967 to 1971; in numerous positions at Coca-Cola from 1971 to 1987, including vice president of materials management from 1983 to 1987; and as vice president of operations for ERLY Juice Inc. from 1987 to 1989. He studied civil engineering at Purdue University as an undergraduate and went on to earn a Ph.D. in finance. In Denton he enjoyed being a part of his wine group and racquetball club. The family will receive friends from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 2 at DeBerry Funeral Directors in Denton.

Richard Alexander Harris Jr.

Richard Alexander Harris Jr. (’62), 79, former UNT associate vice president for computing and UNT System chief technology officer, of Denton, died Aug. 4 in Sparta, Ill. During his 43 years at UNT, he was instrumental in creating and leading computing and technology services.

After completing his bachelor's degree in mathematics at North Texas, he was one of the university's first computer operators and programmers when he started working as a graduate assistant in 1962. The next year, he was appointed acting director of the Academic Computing Center and taught programming courses. In 1964, he became director of computer systems and led the Academic Computing Center and the Administrative Data Processing Center, which merged in 1970 as the university’s Computing Center. He retired as associate vice president for computing and chief technology officer in 2005.

He was selected as the 2004 Dallas-Fort Worth Area Information Technology Executive of the Year by the Society for Information Management after his leadership in implementing the UNT System's web-based, multi-campus Enterprise Information System ahead of schedule and under budget.

Richard was an active supporter of UNT along with his wife, Joneel (’75 M.S., ’99 Ph.D.), who served as registrar and associate vice president for enrollment management until her retirement in 2006. Members of the President’s Council and the UNT Alumni Association, they funded the Richard and Joneel Harris Scholarship in Higher Education in the College of Education for graduate students with a minor in research or technology. In his free time, Richard ran a ranch with his brother, played Pokémon Go and enjoyed traveling in his RV, often to compete in and win trapshooting events. He was in Sparta to attend the Grand American World Trapshooting Championships when he passed away. His motto was, "It's never too late to have a happy childhood."

Visitation will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Mulkey-Bowles-Montgomery Funeral Home, 705 N. Locust, in Denton. A Celebration of Life is scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. Aug. 14 at Denton Country Club, 1213 Country Club Road, in Argyle. Memorials may be made to the Richard and Joneel Harris Scholarship.

David B. Kesterson

David B. Kesterson, 81, of Denton, who served as provost and vice president for academic affairs among his many positions in nearly four decades of service to UNT, died March 12.

He taught at North Carolina State University before joining the English faculty at North Texas in 1968 and later was chair of the English department and associate, acting and interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He was named vice provost and associate vice president for academic affairs in 1993 and served as provost and vice president from 1998 to 2003. He then was named special assistant to the president for humanities and retired as Professor Emeritus in 2007.

An expert on 19th century literature, he wrote books and journal articles on American authors and co-founded and served as president of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society. He specialized in American humor and served as president of the American Humor Studies Association. In 1985, he received a Senior Fulbright Fellowship to teach courses in English and American literature at the University of Wurzburg in Germany.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Missouri State University and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Arkansas. Growing up in Missouri inspired his love for Mark Twain and humor. In his youth, he was a percussionist and, as a retiree, he frequently attended College of Music performances. He also was a member of the President’s Council.

Survivors include his wife, Cheryl, and sons Aubry (’89, ’89 M.S.) and Chad (’98). His memorial service will take place at 11 a.m. March 30 at DeBerry Funeral Directors. Memorials in his name may be made to the Department of English or College of Music.

Hugh Kirkpatrick

Hugh Kirkpatrick (’48, ’49 MA, ’76 Ph.D), 89, Professor Emeritus of English, died July 24 in Denton. Kirkpatrick worked at North Texas from 1961 to 1992, becoming an assistant professor of English and associate dean and acting dean of the graduate school.

He studied linguistics at Georgetown University and published articles on medieval literature and language. He served in the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division in World War II. He later worked as a foreign service officier with the U.S. Information Service in embassies including Beirut, Lebanon; Tehran, Iran; Damascus, Syria; Amman, Jordan; and Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

He earned his degrees in English at North Texas, and as a bachelor’s student, he met his wife, Lina Briggs Kirkpatrick (’46), who died Aug. 24. They were both founding members of the Denton Bach Society and participated in many musical organizations in the area.

Stephen Haslund

Stephen L. Haslund (’70, ’73 M.Ed., ’78 Ph.D.), Friendswood :: He studied music education and earned his doctorate in college and university teaching. He joined the Texas Chiropractic College as dean of student services in 1994 and served as vice president of student affairs and vice president for administrative affairs before retiring.

Ralph Willard

Ralph L. Willard, dean and president of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, 1975-1985, died Jan. 30. Willard was appointed dean of TCOM, which would evolve into the UNT Health Science Center, when the private medical school received full state support and was placed under the direction of the North Texas regents and president. In 1981, he became the second president of the college. During his tenure, three major buildings were constructed as the medical school grew into a modern campus in the Fort Worth Cultural District. He received the college’s Founder’s Medal in 1985.Willard, his parents, his son and his sister all were osteopathic physicians. He attended Cornell College and received degrees from Coe College and the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. He was chief surgeon and chief of staff at Davenport Osteopathic Hospital in Iowa before becoming the dean of the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, and later was associate dean at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine and at West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.He served as a bomber pilot in World War II and the Korean War, and was commander of the 20th Medical Service Squadron at Fort Worth’s Carswell Air Force Base. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross during World War II. Survivors include his wife, Margaret Dennis Willard (’58 M.Ed.).

Walt Parker

Walt Parker, retired UNT System vice chancellor of governmental affairs who worked at North Texas from 1979 to 2004, died Jan. 22. His long career included service as a teacher, coach, builder, legislator and administrator. He played football as a student at North Texas and worked for 42 years as an American Football League and National Football League official and observer of officials, participating in more than 300 games, including two Super Bowls. He was inducted into the UNT Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995 for his football accomplishments. Parker was a fitness officer in the Army Air Corps during World War II and later served during the Korean War. He began his first term as a Texas state representative for Denton and Cooke counties in 1969 and served five consecutive terms. In 1979, he joined North Texas as an assistant to the president and served as vice president and later vice chancellor for governmental affairs. He played a key role in securing funding for university initiatives such as the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science. He also was instrumental in the establishment of the Texas Higher Education Assistance Fund, which provides money for construction, renovation and equipment to universities outside the Permanent University Fund, including UNT. He married his college sweetheart, Mildred Brock Parker (’40, ’70 M.A.), who died last year. Parker earned his master’s degree in public school administration from Texas Christian University.