Robert D. Chatham, age 87, of Emporia, passed away Saturday, August 21, 2021. He was born March 11, 1934, in Harveyville, Kansas, the son of Ralph “Mike” and Izora (Fouts) Chatham.
He attended the Harveyville schools, graduating from Harveyville Rural High School in 1952. Mr. Chatham attended Kansas State Teachers College (Emporia State University) where he received Bachelor (’57) and Master (’62) degrees. He served on ESU’s Alumni Association Board for six years, was awarded ESU’s Service Citation Award in 1987, and the Athletic Club Service Awards in 2000 and 2006. From 2002 to 2011 he served on ESU’s Board of Trustees and later as Trustee Emeritus.
Robert, along with his twin brother Richard, served in the Army Reserve for six years in Topeka. They were called to active duty, serving six months as medics between the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Mr. Chatham taught math and science for three years at Harveyville High School and 34 years at Abilene High School until his retirement in 1994. During this time, he earned several grants from the National Science Foundation in Washington D.C. intended to help high school teachers improve their knowledge in different areas of science. Robert also coached Cross Country and was the Student Council Sponsor at Abilene High School.
In 1983, Mr. Chatham was nominated by 106 of his fellow teachers as a candidate for the Master Teacher Award of Kansas. He was selected as the Abilene Teacher of the Year three different years. Chatham was a life member of the National and Kansas Education Associations. He was a member of Beta Beta Beta, Kappa Mu Epsilon, and Phi Delta Kappa, all honorary fraternities in biology, math, and education.
He married Betty Hassebroek on July 12, 1960, in Riley, Kansas. She survives. They were later divorced. Other survivors include two sons, Dr. Michael D. Chatham and wife Janice and their two daughters, Kylee and Kirstyn of Radford, Virginia, and Brian D. Chatham of Mission, Kansas. He was preceded in death by his parents; twin brother, Richard D. Chatham; an older sister, Beth A. Falk; and an older brother, Glenn Max Chatham.
After retirement he moved to Lake Wabaunsee to be close to his mother and sister in Harveyville, who needed some health care. After moving to Emporia, he volunteered at Emporia State in the Alumni and Admissions Offices and later served as a guide at the National Teachers Hall of Fame on the ESU Campus. His main hobby was following all of Emporia State’s sports – home and away. He enjoyed tutoring math students at the college and high school level for many years. He was always active in his church, serving as elder, teaching Sunday School, and singing in the choir.
A memorial service will be held Monday, August 30 at 10:30 a.m. at the First Christian Church in Emporia with Rev. Tara Thompson in charge, followed by a Celebration of Life at the United Methodist Church in Harveyville, his home church, with Pastor Kathy Harmon, Monday, August 30 at 1:30 p.m. His casket will remain closed. A graveside service will follow at the Harveyville Cemetery.
Memorials to the United Methodist Church of Harveyville or the First Christian Church in Emporia may be sent in care of Roberts-Blue-Barnett Funeral Home at P.O. Box 175, Emporia, Kansas 66801.
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