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Joe and Mary Stipanowich (from the College of Arts and Sciences "Focus" magazine Fall 2005 issue -- See complete story at Photo by WIU Visual Production Center.
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Former Math Chair Joseph Stipanowich Passes Away

November 20, 2008

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MACOMB, IL -- Joseph J. Stipanowich, former Western Illinois University mathematics chair and longtime mathematics faculty member, passed away at 4:35 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19 in Macomb. He was 87. Visitation will be held from 5-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22 at Dodsworth-Piper-Wallen Funeral Home in Macomb; services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23 at the First Christian Church in Macomb.

In 1942, Stipanowich enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He served for three years as a meteorologist/weather forecaster with the 9th Weather Squadron in the Caribbean, with the rank of Staff Sergeant. At war's end he was reassigned to Chanute Field as a teacher of meteorology and mathematics.

Upon completing his bachelor of science degree from Western in 1946, Stipanowich went on to obtain a master's degree from the University of Illinois (1947) and an Ed.D. from Northwestern University (1956). In 1947, he joined the mathematics faculty at Western, serving in that capacity until 1984. He taught thousands of students, many of whom remember him as a favorite teacher. From 1958 to 1968 he served as chair of the department of mathematics, supervising a dramatic expansion of the faculty and the move to a new building. He received Western's Distinguished Teaching Award (1970), the Alumni Achievement Award (1973) and the Distinguished Alumni Award (1974).

He served as president of the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and was named a Distinguished Life member and given the Max Beberman Award for his contribution to math education. Stipanowich also served on the board of directors and the executive committee of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. He published articles in books and journals, and was a book review editor for several years. Stipanowich appeared as a speaker at professional meetings in more than 30 states. His biography has appeared in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Education; American Men and Women of Science; and Outstanding Educators in America.

Stipanowich was born April 14, 1921 in Canton (IL), the son of Joseph A. and LaVada Sleeth Stipanowich. During his childhood the family moved on two separate occasions to Los Angeles, where his father was employed at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. As a youth, he was elected Canton's "Mayor for a Day" and won the sixth grade city baseball championship by pitching a no-hitter and hitting a home run for a 1-0 victory. Stipanowich graduated from Canton High School as president and valedictorian of his class in 1939.

Determined to attend college but lacking the funds, Stipanowich rented a local gas station and worked long hours for a year. Savings and scholarship money enabled him to enter Western Illinois State Teacher's College the following fall. There he proceeded to accumulate one of the highest grade point averages in the history of the school. He was also active in campus life. As the chair of a campuswide picnic he relied heavily on the food committee headed by Mary Laura Forsythe, whom he married June 28, 1947. Throughout his life, Stipanowich referred to Mary as "my bride."

For more than six decades the Stipanowiches have been active members of the First Christian Church of Macomb. Joe served for many years on the Board of Elders, and as chair of the church board, he led the campaign to fund and build the church's education wing. He was also a Sunday school teacher, president of Christian Men's Fellowship and served as a lay minister in the area.

Stipanowich joined the Macomb Rotary Club in 1962, serving as treasurer (1964), vice president (1966) and president (1967). He was named a Paul Harris Fellow in 1986, and in 2007, was named an Honorary Member of Rotary for his 45 years of service. Stipanowich was also a member of the board of directors of Wesley Village, a member of the Masonic Lodge and the American Legion. During retirement he served as president of the local chapter and a member of the state board of the State Universities Annuitants Association and was a member.

In addition to his wife, Mary, Stipanowich is survived by his two sons, Tom, a professor at Pepperdine University School of Law and academic director of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, and Jim, an international tax specialist at Hollister Incorporated; daughters-in-law Sky and Anne; grandchildren Laura; Thomas, Jimmy, Amy, Nick, and Sarah; and great-grandchild C.J.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Joseph and Mary Stipanowich Mathematics Scholarship fund at Western Illinois University or the Joseph and Mary Stipanowich Evangelism Fund at First Christian Church of Macomb.

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