From the President
Top of the News
Alumni Programs
Builders of Excellence
Alumni Notes
Special Features
In Memoriam
Email Us

Time, Talents, Gifts, and Service:
In Honor of Southwestern's Friends

Lauren Kilmer, an inventor and craftsman whose dedication to his family and the arts led to one of Southwestern College’s largest gifts ever, died Christmas Eve in Austin, Texas. He was 96

He is survived by a son, Richard, with whom he was living at the time of his death.

The Kilmers gave more than $1 million to Southwestern’s music program in honor of their wife and mother Mazie Barnett Kilmer ’32. Lauren and Mazie supported Richard in every way possible as he worked toward his dream of becoming a professional violinist.

A small-town Kansas farm boy, Lauren Kilmer was a gifted machinist whose extraordinary talents began to be recognized when he was working for a Tulsa well surveying company. He invented the Dinoseis, a process by which geologic surveys could be made more economically and ecologically. The Dinoseis revolutionized oil exploration and gave Kilmer fame throughout the industry.

Although he had been inventing for many years, he credits the success of the Dinoseis for bringing financial backing that would let him explore dozens of other successful inventions: the co-invention of instruments to measure the eye and manufacture hard contact lenses; the intrastromal ring for insertion in the cornea to correct myopia; 12 patents for a string-type lawn edger, later produced by Black and Decker; and many more. In all he registered more than 45 American patents and hundreds of foreign patents.

After his retirement, he continued to create, building 14 concert-quality violins after Richard bought him the book How to Build Your Own Stradivarious.

Willard J. Kiser ’26, who served on Southwestern College’s board of trustees for more than four decades, died Jan. 10, 2003.

Kiser entered Southwestern on a football scholarship before his 17th birthday, majoring in biology and chemistry. Heavily influenced by the faculty at Southwestern, he decided to enter medical school. He and his bride, Alice, left for Nashville and Vanderbilt Medical School immediately after they married in 1926.

They used their entire savings to build a 40 x 40 hous two blocks from the Vanderbilt campus. Four years later they sold that house and used the money as their printiple support during Willard’s Chicago residency. In 1934 they arrived in Wichita ready to establish their home and start a surgery practice with $300.

Kiser was in the first class to take and pass the examination for the American Board of Surgery, and was always proud of the low number on his certificate, No. 97.

During World War II, Kiser volunteered for the Army and moved his family to California for his military service. Because of his board certification, Kiser served as chief of surgery in three different base hospitals in California.

He had a busy surgical practice in Wichita until his 70th birthday, and continued to see patients in consultation until he was nearly 80 years old.

He and Alice were active in civic and social activities throughout their lives. She preceded him in death.

Lloyd M. Bertholf '21, 103, died Jan. 20, 2003, in Normal, Ill. He was preceded in death by his wife of 78 years, Martha.

Bertholf’s Southwestern College degree was the first step toward a distinguished career as both a scientist and an academician. He earned a master’s degree and a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University, specializing in research into honeybees, and then began a quarter of a century teaching at Western Maryland College. After a stint on the faculty at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., Bertholf was named president of Illinois Wesleyan University at Bloomington.

As the first modern president and principal architect of its current success, he is credited with changing and revitalizing the university during his service from 1958 to 1968.
“He made this a place that did things,” current IWU president Minor Myers Jr. eulogized Bertholf. “He was one of the creative forces in structuring this university the way it is today.”

Bertholf’s innovations at IWU included canceling athletic scholarships in favor of academic scholarships; overseeing construction of four major academic buildings and three residence halls; and beginning the nursing school.

He was awarded the key to the City of Bloomington twice, most recently on his 100th birthday.

Bertholf was one of the first class of inductees into the Southwestern College Natural Science Hall of Fame in 2001.