Editor's note: This article was updated at 2:30 p.m.
A memorial service is tentatively set for March 10 for retired professor Dr. Gordon Vars, 88, who died late Tuesday night after being hit by a car near his Fairchild Avenue home.
The Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office and Kent Police report that Vars was crossing Fairchild Avenue at the intersection of Woodard Avenue when he was struck by a westbound Volkswagon Beetle at 10 p.m. Tuesday.
Kent Police report that alcohol is not a suspected factor in the crash, which is still under investigation. The driver's name will be released upon completion of the investigation.
The Rev. Melissa Carvill-Ziemer of the said a memorial service is tentatively set for March 10 at the church, where Vars was “a very loyal and devoted member” since February 1967.
Carvill-Ziemer said she was with Vars’ widow, Alice, this morning as she gave a television interview.
“Alice was reviewing things about his life – and he was a really remarkable man,” Carvill-Ziemer said. “He was very active in his loves, but very careful about allocating his time. He was just finishing up the editing phase of his newest book; he was always defending the (Kent) bog. He loved birds, he loved people. He was just a wonderful man – very warm and friendly.”
Carvill-Ziemer said Vars’ dedication to the church was unwavering.
“I’ve been here six and a half years and can count on one hand the number of Sundays he hasn’t been at church. He was so faithful. He sat in the same seat every week. He was still stinging in the choir,” she said.
Vars taught Sunday school classes for UU middle-school age children for “many, many years. There are many people who still called him Dr. Vars because they remember growing up with him as their Sunday school teacher. He participated in so many activities, social events and adult education events.”
Emily Vincent, director of media relations at Kent State, said Vars was an emeritus professor of teaching, leadership and curriculum studies.
According to the 2005 book “The Encyclopedia of Middle Grades Education,” Vars was co-founder and first president of the Midwest Middle School Association, precursor of the National Middle School Association.
“Gordon Vars has been a proponent of core curriculum since his first education course as an undergraduate at Antioch College,” the book stated. “His career has been devoted to teaching about and advocating for core curriculum – a person-centered, democratic approach to education.”
The book stated that Vars started at Kent State in 1966 as a professor of education in the Department of Teaching, Leadership and Curriculum Studies and as coordinator of the Middle School Division of the Kent State University School of Education.
In 1975, the book reported, he became coordinator of the Kent State Junior High/Middle School Staff Development Program, a field-based graduate concentration to assist current classroom-based educators to improve their middle school grades teaching practices. He remained in that position until his retirement in 1993.
Throughout his career, Vars authored numerous research papers and books on topics related to middle school education.
He was a very active member of Friends of the Kent Bog, a group "dedicated to the protection and preservation of the Tom S. Cooperrider Kent Bog State Nature Preserve for the education, enjoyment and inspiration of present and future generations."