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Arthur Paul Elbert

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Arthur Paul Elbert Obituary
Arthur Paul Elbert

Arthur Paul Elbert, age 87, died Wednesday, August 21, 2013, after a brief illness. His family was by his side. He was born May 23, 1926, in McDonald County, Mo.

He was Valedictorian of the senior class of 1945 at Seneca High School in Seneca, Mo., and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Drury College in 1950. In 1955 he earned a Master of Education degree from the University of Missouri.

Mr. Elbert dedicated his life to teaching science, biology, and earth sciences classes and furthering the development of curriculum of science studies in the schools. His first teaching position began in 1950 at John F. Hodge High School in St. James, Mo. He was responsible for all science classes for two years.

In 1952, he married Jean Louise Heitmann of Eureka, Mo., who he met at Drury College. They began their life together in Springfield where Mr. Elbert also began a distinguished teaching career with Springfield Public Schools. He taught biology and earth science classes at Central High School, Glendale High School and Kickapoo High School for a total of 35 years. Mr. Elbert was honored as the Outstanding Biology Teacher of Missouri by the National Association of Biology Teachers in 1965.He also taught biology classes for 19 years for the Drury College Continuing Education Division.

Because of Mr. Elbert's dedication to science education and to his students' overall success, he held several positions of distinction during his career. They included being the Science Department Chairman at Central High School for three years; Student Government Sponsor at Central High School from 1956 to 1957; a member of the Missouri State Education Department's Biology Curriculum Revision Committee in 1964 and 1965; member of Steering Committee that organized the Missouri Junior Academy of Science in 1966 and 1967; member of the production committee for the curriculum guide, "Contributions of the Negro to the American Heritage" for Springfield Public Schools in 1968 and 1969; Director and Co-Director of the Southwest Missouri Junior Academy of Science for eight years; Science Club sponsor for 24 years; and on the committee that organized the Springfield Academy of Science.

Also during his career, Mr. Elbert, in collaboration with Mr. Bill Thomas, wrote the curriculum for Biology II (Advanced Biology), which was used by Springfield Public Schools. He also taught, along with Mr. Jack Looney, the State of Missouri's pilot course of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS), which introduced the lab-oriented ecological approach.

To further show Mr. Elbert's love of science education, he was the supervising teacher for more than 30 student teachers during his career with Springfield Public Schools. He also helped organize the Association of Classroom Teachers of Springfield that later became Springfield National Education Association. Mr. Elbert retired from teaching in 1987 with a total of 37 years of his life dedicated to science education. He also enjoyed the Boy Scouts, and from 1950 to 1952 he was the Scout Master at St. James, Mo. Later he served as the Scout Master for five years for Troop 117 at Holland Elementary School.

He was a charter member of Southminster Presbyterian Church. While a member there, he served as Deacon, Elder, Sunday School teacher, sponsor of Senior High Fellowship, director of Senior High Day Camp for eight years, and also was a member of the choir. In 2000, Mr. Elbert joined the Wesley United Methodist Church. His memberships included the University Club and the Missouri Interfaith Coalition on Environment. He also was chairman of the Presbyterian Synod of Mid-America Environmental Task Force and past Chapter President of the Greater Ozarks Audubon Society.

Also in his spare time, he enjoyed assisting his wife, Jean, with the Refugee Resettlement Program sponsored by the Council of Churches of the Ozarks. He loved nature, so floating, fishing, camping, and gardening were his favorite hobbies. He also really never stopped teaching. Even in retirement, he loved sharing his photographs (and color slides) of wildlife, insects, and flowers with his friends and family. As a parting gift for further study and education, Mr. Elbert has donated his body to science.

He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Jean Heitmann Elbert of Springfield; his son, Rex Elbert and wife, Kathy, of Oviedo, Fla.; his son, Ross Elbert, of Springfield; his daughter, Rita White, and husband, Matt, of Battlefield; and three grandchildren, Adam, Isaac, and Caleb White.

He is preceded in death by his parents; two sisters, Virginia Mae Elbert of Marshall, Mo. and Evabelle Smith of Canby, Ore.; and two brothers, Robert Ulmer of Scott's Mills, Ore. and Charles Elbert of Joplin, Mo.

A Celebration of Life service for Mr. Elbert will be held at 6 p.m., Thursday, August 29, 2013, at Wesley United Methodist Church, 922 W. Republic Road, Springfield. Memorial contributions may be made to the Arthur P. Elbert Science Education Scholarship Fund in care of The Foundation for Springfield Public Schools, 1131 Boonville, Springfield, MO 65802. Additional information available from Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home.

Published in the News-Leader on Aug. 25, 2013
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