The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


August 25, 2013

Arthur Paul Elbert

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

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. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Drury College in 1950, and shortly following in 1955, with a Master of Education from the University of Missouri.

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 sciences 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 Departments Biology Curriculum Revision Committee from 1964 to 1965; member of Steering Committee that organized the Missouri Junior Academy of Science from 1966 to 1967; member of the production committee for the curriculum guide, "Contributions of the Negro to the American Heritage" for Springfield Public Schools from 1968 to 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 a 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 in St. James, Mo. Later he was 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. He loved sharing his photographs (and color slides) of wildlife, insects, and flowers with his friends, family and grandchildren.

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 Springfield; 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 Scotts Mills, Ore., and Charles Elbert, of Joplin, Mo.

Services for Mr. Elbert will be held at 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 29, at Wesley United Methodist Church.

Memorial contributions may be made to Arthur P. Elbert Science Education Scholarship Fund in care of The Foundation for Springfield Public Schools, 1131 Boonville, Springfield, MO  65802.

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