Dr. Wayne Frederick Geisert, 95, President Emeritus of Bridgewater College, passed away Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017 at the Bridgewater Retirement Home surrounded by family after an extended illness. He was born in Elmo, Kansas on Dec. 20, 1921, and was a son of the late Frederick Jacob and Martha (Lauer) Geisert. He was raised on a farm near Abilene and graduated from Chapman High School.
His advanced education included an A.B. Degree (1944) from McPherson College, and a Ph.D in Economics (1951) from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. He was on active duty as a line officer and education officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1944 to 1946, serving much of his time aboard the U.S.S. Harry Lee in the Pacific. From 1946 to 1948, he was instructor of social science, speech, and drama at Hamilton High School, Hamilton, Kansas. From 1948 to 1950 he taught Economics at Kendall College, Evanston, Illinois. In 1951 Dr. Geisert went to Manchester College as Associate Professor of Economics; in 1954, he was advanced to the rank of professor; in 1955, he was made head of the Department of Economics and Business.
Geisert became Dean of McPherson College in 1957 and continued in that office until 1964. On July 1, 1964, Geisert started as president of Bridgewater College and continued in that office until his retirement on July 1, 1994.
Geisert served on the boards of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, the Council of Independent Colleges of Virginia, and the Shenandoah Valley Educational Television Corporation (1979-1984). He was a director of the First Virginia Bank-Planters of Bridgewater (1988), serving as the chairman of the board. He served the Church of the Brethren as its moderator, the chief elective position of the denomination (1973-1974); as a member of its general board for five years (1977- 1982); as chairman of its pension board (1979-1982); and as a member and chairman of several special denominational committees including the Review and Evaluation Committee. He served on the committee on higher education of the Church of the Brethren continuously from 1964 until 1994, serving several terms as its chairman. In 1985, he traveled to Dalian, the People's Republic of China, and represented the committee in its negotiations leading to the establishing of an exchange program between Brethren Colleges Abroad and the Dalian Institute of Foreign Languages. He served as president of the Association of Virginia Colleges (1970-1971) and as the president of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (1970-1971). He served on the board of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Chamber of Commerce (1977-82) in 1981 as president. Geisert served as vice president of the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (1983-84) and as its president (1984-85). He held membership in several professional organizations and honorary fraternities including the American Economic Association, Pi Kappa Delta, and Tau Kappa Delta, as well as membership in Rotary International. He is also a member of Bridgewater College's Lambda Society.
Geisert received McPherson College’s Alumni Citation of Merit, was chosen as Educator of the Year by James Madison University, and received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Manchester College (Indiana). He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from James Madison University, a Doctor of Humane Letters from Bridgewater College, and also a Doctor of Humane Letters from McPherson College.
As president of Bridgewater College, he was invited to speak often. He enjoyed telling stories, meeting people and sharing the Bridgewater College story. He enjoyed traveling and leading multiple tours — destinations included Hong Kong, China, Europe, South America, and Australia.
He was united in marriage on July 2, 1944 to Ellen Maurine (Gish) Geisert, who preceded him in death on Dec. 14, 2005.
Surviving are sons, Gregory Wayne Geisert and wife Margaret S., Bradley Kent Geisert and wife Ellen V., and Todd Wilfred Geisert and wife Cynthia W.; and brother, Theodore C. Geisert. He is also survived by seven grandchildren, Joel Geisert and wife Danielle, Emily Larson and husband David, Daniel Geisert and wife Julia, Kevin Geisert, Erik Geisert, Morgan Geisert-Klein and husband Randall, and Kathryn Long and husband Adam; nine great grandchildren, Jack, Benjamin, Ryan, Annabelle, Samuel, and Catherine (Wren) Larson, William Geisert, Parker Long and Erin Geisert. He was preceded in death by a sister, Blanche Brooks, and a brother, Leon Geisert.
A visitation will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 at Johnson Funeral Service, Bridgewater, Virginia. A memorial service will be held at Bridgewater Church of the Brethren at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017 with Rev. Jeffery Carr officiating. The family will receive friends following the memorial service.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Bridgewater College, E. Maurine and Wayne F. Geisert Scholarship Fund, College Street, Bridgewater, VA 22812 or Bridgewater Church of the Brethren, 420 College View Drive, Bridgewater, VA 22812.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.johnsonfs.com.
Johnson Funeral Service in Bridgewater, Virginia is in charge of arrangements.