Leon J. Satterfield
Leon James Satterfield, 77, of Lincoln, Nebraska, died Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at the Arbors in Lincoln of complications of Alzheimer’s Disease. He was born January 21, 1934, at home in Plains the son of LeRoy and Daisy (Corey) Satterfield.
He attended Plains High School, graduating in 1952. He attended Emporia State Teachers College in Emporia, Kansas for two years before entering the U.S. Army and serving in Germany. After his honorable discharge, he re-enrolled at Emporia and completed a bachelor’s degree in English and history in 1956 and a master’s degree in English in 1959. He earned his Ph.D. in English at the University of Nebraska in 1969.
Leon married Mary Ann Bernard on September 1, 1957, in Russell, Kansas.
He was a reporter for the “Emporia Gazette” while he was in college and was editor of the Benson (Omaha) Sun newspaper in 1959. But he is most known for his exemplary teaching career of English, composition and journalism at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, where he taught from 1960 until retiring in 2000 when he was bestowed the title of professor emeritus.
Besides teaching, Leon wrote a bi-weekly column for the “Lincoln Star” and then for the “Lincoln Journal-Star” titled, “The Truth Mainly.” Leon also published many academic articles about American poet Edwin Arlington Robinson and writer James Thurber, and about teaching composition and the rhetorical use of irony. He served on many academic committees at Nebraska Wesleyan, was a proponent of writing across the curriculum, and a perennial presenter at the national Conference on College Composition and Communication. He was also a three-time National Endowment for the Humanities fellow. He received a federal grant to promote cross-racial understanding in 1968, and he used the funds to teach English in an exchange program at a black Methodist school – Lane College in Jackson, Tenn., where he moved his family into an African-American neighborhood for the summer term. He also taught composition at the University of Nebraska’s “Chautauqua on the River” program, which was a floating school on the Delta Queen paddleboat on the Mississippi River in 1978.
Locally, Leon was chairman of Lincoln’s Radial Reuse Task Force in the 1970s, was a founding member of the University Place Community Organization, and was active in Nebraskans for Peace, Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty and the ACLU. He campaigned tirelessly for various political causes and candidates.
Leon enjoyed writing (ironically, “to salvage clarity from his confusion,” he always said), sailing, camping, kite flying, hiking, jogging, walking, organic gardening, cooking, visiting his cabin near Glen Haven, Colo., and doing all of these things with his family and dogs, Sherman and Ned. His favorite authors were Mark Twain, James Thurber, and his dear friends Kent Haruf of Salida, Colo., and William Kloefkorn of Lincoln. Leon and Kloefkorn were founding members of the Loup River Expeditionary Force, which goes on a springtime river run every year and has continued and grown into a second generation. He competed for many years in Lincoln’s Kite-Flying Contest at Holmes Lake with homemade kites taller than he was, but was always bested by Kloefkorn’s entry. Leon was also an original member of the Nebraska Wesleyan Writers Group, which met monthly in the homes of some of the area’s best writers and his dearest friends.
Regardless of his vast accomplishments, Leon was most known for his gentle nature, keen wit and big heart and soul.
A celebration of life is pending for late spring or early summer in Lincoln. Memorials may be made to Nebraska Wesleyan University, the Alzheimer’s Association of the Great Plains, Nebraska Public Radio, or any of Leon’s favorite causes.
Leon is survived by his wife; a son, Wade, and daughter-in-law, Jo Fish of Fort Collins, Colo.; a daughter, Amy, and son-in-law, Paul Jensen of LaPorte, Colo.; a son, Jay, and daughter-in-law, Jen of West Hartford, Vermont; grandchildren, Leslie and Max Satterfield of Fort Collins, Colo., Mari Gades of LaPorte, Colo., and Evan and Nate Satterfield of West Hartford, Vermont; his mother-in-law, Dona Bernard of Lincoln; a sister, Delores Jones of Lawrence, Kan.; a brother-in-law, Con Henderson of Lawrence, Kan.; a brother-in-law, Dan and his wife, Judy Bernard of Tavares, Fla.; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents and two sisters, Judy Henderson and Marilyn Buck.