TCU community remembers beloved professor at memorial service

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    Members of the TCU and the Fort Worth communities gathered in the Brown-Lupton University Union ballroom today to celebrate the life of a beloved TCU professor.

    Dr. David Vanderwerken taught for 43 years before retiring in spring of 2014.

    Vanderwerken died of cancer on Jan. 25, but his vigil on Thursday was filled with laughs and fond memories as his colleagues, students and friends spoke of the profound impact he had on the lives he touched.

    Vanderwerken was known for his quick New England wit, dedication to sports and his love for 20th centuryAmerican literature.

    Chancellor Victor Boschini laughed as he told the crowd of his first time meeting Vanderwerken, saying that he made “hilariously ironic remarks.”

    “(His humor) was very dry, but never bitter,” Boschini said.

    Professors from the English department were called to speak about working with Vanderwerken. They also shared some of the more than 400 emails his wife Karen Vanderwerken received upon the news of his death.

    Dr. Neil Easterbrook, a TCU English professor, told the crowd that his colleagues intend to create a website with all of the messages and memories of Vanderwerken so his legacy could live on.

    Dr. Harry Parker, chair of the theater department, took one of Vanderwerken’s English classes as an undergraduate student in the 1970s. He said he owes Vanderwerken for affecting his life as a student and a current professor.

    “He is my idol,” Parker said.

    Cards were left in the BLUU ballroom for visitors to write their favorite memories of Vanderwerken. The cards will be given to his granddaughter in the future.

    Members of the TCU community also took to social media to share their condolences and the impact Vanderwerken had on their lives as students.