SFCC Founding Trustee Dr. Donald C. Proctor Dies
SEDALIA—Dr. Donald C. Proctor, a founding member of the State Fair Community College Board of Trustees, died Thursday at the Missouri Veterans Home in Warrensburg.
Proctor, along with other Sedalia Jaycees, was instrumental in establishing the college. One of six original board members elected in 1966, he served 36 years until retiring from the board in April 2002. The college named the library in his honor at his retirement reception.
Proctor, who turned 91 on Jan. 13, lived in Sedalia with his wife Janet. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Heckart Funeral Home and Cremation Services. A celebration of life is planned from 6-7:30 p.m. Friday at the Heckart Family Center and a funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Saturday at Sacred Heart Church.
SFCC President Dr. Joanna Anderson said Proctor’s legacy of exemplary service lives on at SFCC. “He set a standard for caring and compassion that is still reflected in our board today,” she said. “We are extremely grateful for his years of service, and I have no doubt he is one of the longest-serving trustees in the state.”
Current board member Jerry Greer, who served with Proctor for eight years, said Proctor was a farsighted individual who was always thinking of the good of the college and its students. “I worked for him when I was employed at SFCC and worked with him as a board member,” said Greer. “Anywhere you would see him, he would recognize you; he was jovial and fun. I had a high regard and a lot of respect for the man. His greatest contribution is the college today; it was his vision for it to be what it is today.”
Greer said the board’s decision to name the library after Proctor was an easy one. “Don was an educated man, and he was pro-education,” said Greer. “It was a natural connection, and we thought it would be an excellent tribute to him.”
Alan Wilson, who served with Proctor from 1986-1988 and again from 1992-1998, said Proctor brought a tremendous amount of insight to the workings of the college. “He was always a balancing force,” said Wilson. “He was a great supporter of both the employees and the college itself. He was pleasant and fair, looked at both sides of each issue and always got his point across without a big stick. He gave 36 years to a volunteer position, which says a tremendous amount about his level of commitment to the college and this community.”
Former SFCC President Dr. Stephen Poort, who was serving when Proctor retired from the board, said Proctor did more for SFCC in his 36 years as a trustee than most people will ever know. “He was unequaled,” said Poort. “I remember him fondly as an absolutely brilliant person who loved the college as if it were his own child. I recall standing with him one day, our arms around each other’s shoulders, looking out on the campus. I said, ‘Doc, did you ever in your wildest dreams think you’d see what you see before you today?’ He gave me a hug and said no. I was lucky to have him in my life, as was the college.” Poort said Proctor and the other original trustees served as incredible ambassadors of the college to the community. “The quality of their leadership was outstanding and rare,” he said. “They were true statesmen. They had stature in the community and the respect of the community. When they spoke, people listened—and they led the way.”
Board of Trustees President Gary Noland called Proctor a wonderful man. “He was caring, compassionate and intelligent, and he loved our students,” he said. When he retired as a trustee, Proctor said highlights of his years on the board included hiring Fred Davis as SFCC’s first president; construction of “Plywood U,” the college’s first building; the first estate gift from the (Charles E.) Yeater family followed by generous gifts from other families; and the construction of the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art and the Multipurpose Center. “I’m perhaps proudest of the quality of the faculty and board members over the years, and of the fact that probably no other college in the nation has a higher percentage of buildings built by individual donations,” said Proctor. “It’s been a lovely time. The college is really something; I think it ranks well with any junior college in the state. It’s been a labor of love, for me; we’ve always had people who worked together well, I think, and I hope it stays that way.”
Proctor was one of six persons from a field of 17 to be elected to the college’s first board of trustees after the Junior College District of Sedalia was established by public vote on April 5, 1966. He took the oath of office May 9, 1966. He served as vice chairman/vice president from 1972-1974 and 1986-1990, as secretary from 1984-1986 and as president from 1990-2002. During the college’s 40th anniversary Founders’ Day luncheon in August 2008, the Board of Trustees presented Proctor with a resolution naming him a trustee emeritus. The resolution commemorated Proctor’s outstanding service and contributions to education; his dedication to his career, the college and his community; and his passion for the success of students and SFCC. As a trustee, Proctor also was a director of the SFCC Foundation. He accepted emeritus status to the foundation board when he retired as a trustee in 2002.
A physician, Proctor retired in 1989 after 36 years as a general practitioner in Sedalia. He served two terms as the youngest chief of staff of Bothwell Regional Health Center, and was the first physician to serve on the hospital’s Board of Trustees. In 1992-93 he was appointed to the Governor’s Task Force on Critical Choices for Higher Education. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Missouri-Columbia with A.B. and B.S. degrees and received his medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis. He also served 3 1/2 years as a meteorologist for the U.S. Air Force and in 1945 was on the first crew ever to fly into the eye of a hurricane to track it.
(Courtesy of State Fair Community College)