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Harry S. Hefner

Nov. 29, 2006

Harry S. Hefner, professor emeritus of art, who served on the Western Michigan University faculty from 1940 to 1977, died Nov. 15 in Kalamazoo. He was 94.

Hefner's career at WMU was interrupted in 1942, when he was called to the military service shortly after the United States entered World War II. He served in the U.S. Army's Sixth Infantry before he returning to his teaching position at WMU in late 1945.

Hefner was promoted to associate professor in 1954 and again to professor of art in 1963. He was appointed chair of the Department of Art in 1955, and continued to lead the department through 1965, when he decided to return to teaching full time. Hefner retired from WMU in 1977 and received the Teaching Excellence Award, sponsored by the WMU Alumni Association, that same year. In 2003, he was inducted into WMU's Department of Art Alumni Academy.

Although Hefner and his wife, Leona (Adolf) Hefner, were actively engaged as educators, they were also involved in the WMU community beyond the classroom. They began married life as resident parents for Walwood Hall in 1946, returning to Ernest-Burnham Hall as resident parents when their two daughters attended WMU. More recently, the Hefners were a great source of information for the University as it prepared for its centennial celebration.

Prior to joining WMU, Hefner taught in Muskegon (Mich.) Public Schools, Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and at Skidmore College. During his tenure at WMU, Hefner also taught summer classes at Harvard University and the University of Vermont. He taught extension classes for the University of Michigan, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and Grand Valley State University.

Hefner was born in Kalamazoo and resided in the area most of his life. He graduated from WMU in 1936 and received a master's degree from Columbia University in 1939.

The family has suggested memorial donations be made to the WMU Foundation, designated for the Harry S. Hefner Excellence in Art Scholarship fund, or to Rose Arbor Hospice Care Residence.

Media contact: Thom Myers, (269) 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

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