Sue Gerard, 1914-2010

Instructor taught 33 years at Christian College.

Sue Gerard

Sue Gerard, who taught physical education and recreation at Christian College from 1935-48 and 1952-72, died on July 18, 2010, just two weeks shy of her 96th birthday. The Gerard Pool, which stood on the site of what is now the Atkins-Holman Student Commons, was named for her.

Sue was also the inaugural inductee into the Columbia College sports hall of fame for her unstinting dedication and service.

"Columbia College has lost an irreplaceable asset," said President Gerald Brouder. "Sue was a bright star not only for the college for most of her adult life, but for the community as well. We will miss her."

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, Aug. 15, at Olivet Christian Church, 1991 South Olivet Road, just east of Columbia, from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Donations are suggested to the Pinnacles Youth Foundation or Olivet Christian Church. Her own body has been donated to science.

Born on a farm in 1914 near what is now Old Highway 63 and Walnut St., Sue earned a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1936 and a master's degree in education in 1941, both from the University of Missouri. She started teaching at Christian College before graduation from the university as a fill-in swimming instructor.

She only took four years off to raise her children in the late 40s and early 50s. One of the two, Nancy Russell Gerard, attended Christian (now Columbia) College and graduated in 1969.

Sue was also on the dais to present granddaughter Jennifer Graham with a diploma for a bachelor's degree in elementary education in 2002 - a proud moment for both.

In her 33 years at Christian College, Sue taught physical education and recreation with an emphasis in swimming and life saving. She also created and taught a bicycling program, led several summer tours of the British Isles and Europe, allowing students to earn college credit for the trip.

Synchronized swimming team
By one estimate, she taught and certified more than 2,000 American Red Cross senior life savers and hundreds of water safety instructors. She also coached several intramural sports and sponsored the Dolphins, a synchronized swimming group who presented an annual water show for students and the public into the 1960s.

A lifelong resident of mid-Missouri, Sue began writing stories for such magazines as The Farm Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, Ebony and Reader's Digest, after graduating from the University of Missouri. In a winter 2002 Columbia College alumni magazine article, Sue said she considered a 1952 Ebony article, "Why I'm Glad My Daughter's Teacher Is a Negro," her most influential piece.

Book: Just Leave the Dishes
She also compiled diary entries, stories, published articles and poetry for her grandchildren and called them "Granny's Notes." Some of these ruminations became a weekly column of the same name in the Columbia Daily Tribune in 1994. She also penned two books, My First 84 Years and Just Leave the Dishes – the latter reflecting her philosophy that there are more vital things to do in life than dishes.

Read samples of her columns here.
Read her obituary here.


Anonymous said...

She was about the coolest lady you will ever meet. She was an awesome Granny!

Anonymous said...

I attended Christian College 1941-1943. Although I wasn't one of Sue Gerard's pupils, she was known to everyone as an excellent, outgoing teacher, respected and widely known throughout the community and beyond. I knew her primarily through a mutual friend, MU student Buster Gray. Sue was so much a part of the college; her absence leaves a huge vacancy. She will be remembered by many students with love and respect. It was a privilege to have known her.

Barbara Houston Pelot