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Doane Mourns Loss of David Osterhout '37

Doane College mourns the loss of one of its most beloved graduates and pillars, following the death of M. David Osterhout, 91.

Osterhout spent his childhood across the street from Doane, his college years on campus, much of his career in Doane administration and his retirement years in Doane Village.

A deep emotional attachment to his alma mater showed in each role he undertook for Doane. From classmates to coworkers, Osterhout was known for his humility, wisdom and quiet strength.

"We will all miss David and his gentle but firm spirit," said Doane President Jonathan Brand.

Osterhout graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Doane in 1937. In 1938, he married fellow 1937 Doane graduate Erma Ragatz of Columbus.

After graduation, his occupations ranged from operating a furniture and home supply store in Crete to a decade with the Nebraska Resources Department, where he helped bring several new industries to Nebraska towns, including Crete.

He became a member of Doane's Board of Trustees in the 1950s. It was the first of many Doane titles he would receive over the years, including twice acting president, business manager, vice president of financial affairs and senior vice president - a position from which he retired in May 2003.

A new east entrance to the Crete campus was dedicated "Osterhout Lane" in May 2002. Doane awarded him the title Senior Vice President Emeritus in 2003.

Although his service shaped Doane in many ways, his most visible legacy is the 300-acre campus itself.

"The landscape is his lasting impact," said Pappy Khouri '70, former Doane treasurer and vice president for finance.

Osterhout oversaw landscaping for new buildings and the replanting of much of the central campus. He helped Doane become the 19th affiliated site of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum in 1979. In 1983, he brought an All-America Rose Selections test garden to campus. In 1988, he helped secure a Kiewit Foundation grant to establish a nature study area.

Khouri called Osterhout a "wise and gentle man with an intense sense of service."

In each role, he always preferred the background, Khouri said.

"Yet he was the one person everyone wanted to please."

Khouri considered Osterhout a mentor who helped him in his own 35-year career at Doane.

He first met Osterhout in 1969 when Khouri was editor of the Doane Owl newspaper. Osterhout called him to his office to talk about an editorial.

"He showed me the facts, led me on the right path in a gentle way," Khouri said, which was Osterhout's way.

His legacy at Doane can't be stated strongly enough, according to Brand.

"An institution's core values are not etched in stone at the moment that that institution is established. During the course of its history, important individuals can shape and influence those very values. David was one such figure," Brand said. 

Funeral services will take place Thursday, Sept. 13 at 10:30 a.m. at the United Church of Christ in Crete. A service on campus will take place at a later date.