Atlee Kepler left an indelible mark on many
To the editor:
I am writing today to express what cannot be captured in a newspaper article about the passing of Dr. Atlee Kepler. Forty years ago, I met Dr. Kepler in my hiring interview. While sitting with him, I knew I was in the presence of a very special man.
Over the years I had the honor to serve under his leadership, I found him to be a selfless person who was professional, yet always personally interested in the individuals he hired. Early on in my service, I came to realize that Dr. Atlee Kepler was building not only a college but a close family who would work together with a sense of integrity, kindness, compassion, purpose and respect for one another. He set the example for that in his own personal propriety and decorum.
In writing the history of the college, which took nearly two years, I found that he was a radical nonconformist. Far beyond his years in progressive thought, he was trying to establish the college in a climate which was unwelcoming to higher education. Acutely perceptive, gracious and socially skilled, he was able to form an extraordinary collaboration with Superintendent of Washington County Schools, William Brish. He, Brish, along with an impassioned early staff and faculty led by Mable Walter, forged a missionary message about the value of the college to the community. Inspired for the "common good," they were not bound by the local cultural norms which surrounded them but were convicted about a transforming noble purpose which drove their efforts. This perseverance, imparting the vision of exceptional possibilities and opportunities this college could offer the people in our area, was convincing even to the local political and business leaders.