Dr. Jay's Story

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Dr. Jay B. Munsell was born on May 21, 1939, in a farm house in Lebanon, Kansas, to Jesse Burl and Elma Elnora Munsell. Employing his unique, stylized, and sarcastic brand of humorous narrative, he often joked that after he was born, he was put not merely in front of the oven but in it. Jay slipped into eternity on Sunday, May 8, 2016, at the age of 76.
Jay was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, teacher, and unrelenting servant to anyone who might need his help. He grew up in Parsons, Kansas, and graduated from Parsons High School in 1957. He received an associate of arts degree from Labette Community Junior College in Parsons, 1960. He received his bachelors degree in science from Kansas State College in Pittsburg, 1962 and his masters degree in science from Kansas State College in 1964. He earned a doctorate in education from Oklahoma State University in 1977. His dissertation was titled "The Leadership Role Expectations of Division Chairpersons as Perceived by the Teaching Faculty, Central Administration, and Chairpersons in a Selected Oklahoma Institution of Higher Education." He liked to boast that his dissertation continued to be a complete and utter page-turner and/or a cure for insomnia. He taught as a high school social science teacher in Kansas and Colorado in the early 1960s. In 1966, he began teaching at Northeastern State University (then College) and served as faculty sponsor for the student senate during the turbulent academic year of 1967-68. He served NSU for 36 years, as a sociology professor for nine years and then in the College of Education for 27 years. He created and was the director of the Master of Science in College Teaching program for 26 years. He ended his academic career as chair of the Department of Teacher Education for three years. He was an innovative professor; he made his students color with crayons. Verifiable through gradebooks, he taught over 10,000 students at NSU during his tenure. He was active in his discipline and forged strong bonds between public schools and NSU, a relationship that enriched the prestige of NSUs role in teaching future educators. He inspired countless Oklahomans to pursue careers in teaching. He retired in 2002. All the while he enjoyed his hobby of building things, including furniture, a back screened porch and front porch on the family home.
His character as a humble servant, woodworker, and amateur comedian continued in his retirement. He spent his hours reading, going to Quick Trip, and shopping at Reasors; he loved his errands. He befriended the everyday human behind the counters; he was the type of guy always ready to have a conversation and make a joke. Once when he was wearing a Harvard t-shirt at Reasors, he was approached by a Harvard graduate, who asked, Did you go to Harvard? Jay responded, No, but my son did. Jay never explained that his son simply went to the Harvard bookstore to buy the t-shirt, though he was always very supportive of his son as he also pursued an academic career and ultimately followed his fathers footsteps to become a college professor. Jay built a back deck for his daughterin his 70s. He would show up unannounced at his daughters house in Tulsa to do random house repairs or just to hang out and drink a beer. His daughter would often come home to find Jay in the house (he had a key!) working on things or surprising her and her family with seasonal and holiday decorations. Jay particularly adored his grandchild, Jaden, and he was a significant part of her young life. More than anything, he was a devoted husband of 47 years, faithfully attentive to his wifes several battles with cancer, the most recent of which she continues to fight. He was his wifes and his entire familys rock. And roll. He was a quiet introvert as well as the life of the party. He was a reflective bookworm as well as a motivational, dynamic teacher. He embodied all that is possibly right and good in our mere, humble vessel of humanity.
Jay was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Lee Packard Munsell; son, Dr. Jason B Munsell (wife Dr. Mindy Fenske); daughter Amy Munsell (fiancé Trina Bolles); grandchildren Jaden Bre Munsell, Madison Bolles, and Mason Bolles. He is also survived by his brother, Donald D. Munsell (wife Romana) as well as by in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins, and other extended family members.
The family offers sincere appreciation for the thoughts and prayers (and food and drink) that has been pouring in since his unexpected death. The funeral will be held at St. Johns Episcopal Church in Tulsa on Friday the 13th (why not?) at 2 p.m. The Munsells are a family of educators and servants. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to support staffing at the Eisenhower International School, where his beloved granddaughter attends.
Published on May 10, 2016
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