The Defiance College family is mourning the passing of Dr. Richard W. Stroede, Dean Emeritus, who died Saturday, May 8, at the Defiance Hospice Center. A professor and administrator at Defiance College for 40 years, he worked tirelessly throughout his professional career and since retirement to promote the performing arts at DC and in the Defiance community.
Born Sept. 25, 1939, in Adams County, Wisconsin, he was the son of John P.R. and Myrtle L. (Schultz) Stroede. In 1960, he married his high school sweetheart, Emily Fulton, who survives. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1961, and a master’s degree in music theory from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in 1962. He completed course work in music composition with a minor in music education at UW-Madison. In 1994, he earned a Ph.D. in administration and management from Walden University, Minneapolis.
After two years as a high school band director in Wisconsin, he arrived at Defiance College in 1964 where he spent the rest of his distinguished 40-year professional career. He held the title of Associate Professor of Music throughout his tenure, teaching music education, theory and history curriculum, and directing vocal and instrumental ensembles. He was chair of the college’s music department from 1967 to 1986, and from 1986 to 1992 was chair of the Division of Fine Arts. He served as faculty chair from 1988 to 1992, leading the Academic Affairs (curriculum) Committee and serving on the President’s Cabinet. He chaired the college’s FORUM series for 10 years, drawing performers from Ferrante and Teicher to Victor Borge to the Houston Symphony conducted by Andre Previn. In 1976, he founded the Schomburg Series, a popular college-community series of music, theater and dance that continues to this day, bringing affordable, high-quality performances to Defiance. He founded the Collegium Chorale in 1980 and was its director until 1992.
In 1992, he transitioned into college administration, assuming the role of Associate Academic Dean. He was promoted to Vice President for Academic Affairs-Academic Dean in 1994 and held the position until his retirement in 2004. As Academic Dean, he served on the President’s Cabinet, and oversaw faculty in all academic disciplines, the Pilgrim Library, Weekend College and Graduate Programs for adult students, and computer services for the institution. He led the development of a course-embedded service learning program; development of a course-based general education assessment program; and two successful North Central Reaccreditation reviews. During the summer of 2002, he was appointed Acting President of the college.
He received numerous honors throughout his career. In 1991, he received Defiance College’s Distinguished Faculty Award and Sears Roebuck Foundation’s Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award. He earned a Dissertation Award in 1994 from Walden University. Upon his retirement from Defiance College, he was honored with the title Dean Emeritus as well as the college’s highest recognition, the Pilgrim Medal.
Throughout his years in Defiance, Dr. Stroede was an engaged member and promoter of the arts in the greater community. In 1978, he organized the Defiance College Community Band, providing artistic performance venues for the Defiance community and affording talented musicians from the college and community a performance outlet. He was its director until 1990 and was later named Conductor Laureate. From 1980 to 2009, he was music director for the Fort Defiance Players community theater. He was a member of the Defiance City Cable Commission from 1997 to 2006 and was its chair for six years. From 2000 to 2009, he served on the board of trustees of WGTE Public Broadcasting. At the state level, he served as a board member of ORACLE (Ohio Arts Presenters Network) from 1988 to 1993 and was its president from 1991 to 1992. He was a panelist on the Ohio Arts Council Presenting/Touring Panel from 1989 to 1991 and served as its chair for two years.
After retiring from Defiance College, he focused his attention on increasing community-based arts in the city of Defiance by generating more interest in and accessibility to the arts. In 2006, he became the incorporator and first executive director of the Defiance Community Cultural Council, a community-based, nonprofit organization providing communications and promotional services for public access producers and community cultural nonprofit organizations. In that role, he co-founded the Defiance Music in Your Parks summer concert series and founded the DCCC Presents concert series, “Sunday at the Center,” and “Bands, Bands, Bands!” He was instrumental in transforming the Arts and Media Center from its former state, overseeing renovations into a downtown performance space. The Defiance Area Chamber of Commerce presented him with its Quality of Life Award for community cultural development in 2005.
In 1974, he revived what has become a Christmas tradition for Defiance College and the community, the annual production of Handel’s “Messiah.” He conducted his final performance on Dec. 13, 2009. From 1978 to 2009, he was Senior Choir Director for St. John United Church of Christ.
A talented musician and craftsman in his own right, he built and played a variety of musical instruments and composed numerous works for winds, voice and strings.
In addition to his wife, Emily, he is survived by a son, Andrew John (Laura); daughter, Beth Lynn (Walter) Moehle; two brothers, Ernest, Wisconsin Dells, and August (Lorraine), Oxford, Wis.; a grandson, Jonathan Stroede; three granddaughters, Kristin, Sara and Alison Moehle; and a great-granddaughter, Kaylin Moehle.
He was preceded in death by his parents; two sisters, Helen (Clifford) Elliott and Bette (Robert) Jones; and a brother, John R. (Clairice).
A service to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Stroede will be held Saturday, June 5, at 11 a.m. at St. John United Church of Christ, 950 Webster St., Defiance. Interment will be held at The Davis Corners Cemetery in Adams County, Wisconsin. Memorial contributions may be sent, in lieu of flowers, to the Richard W. Stroede Scholarship Fund, in care of the Defiance College, 701 North Clinton Street, Defiance, Ohio 43512.
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