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1935 John 2023

John Thomas Sill

February 16, 1935 — April 29, 2023


John Thomas Sill, 88, died peacefully at home in the early hours of Saturday, April 29, 2023. He was born on February 16, 1935, the son of John D. and Madge (Rendleman) Sill, and raised in Carbondale, Illinois.

At the age of five, he was enrolled In the University School on the campus of Southern Illinois University and would continue his education there through high school. It was an exceptional experience that would instill a curiosity and love of learning that would last a lifetime.

He would earn his B.A., majoring in speech, English and psychology, and an M.A. In speech at Southern Illinois University.

In 1958, Tom began his teaching career at Bloomington, Illinois teaching speech and English. He also coached debate, forensics, theater and baseball. In 1961, he became the coordinator of speech and English student teaching interns at the University Laboratory School at SIU. He taught at both University and Lab School.

During this time, he earned a Ph.D. in Curriculum Development with a focus on communication psychology. He was fortunate to have studied and taught with several outstanding scholars such as Buckminster Fuller, A .Craig Baird, Elwood Murray, and Nelson Bossing. Throughout 1962-67, he was also a consultant and evaluator of high school curricula for the state of Illinois.

In 1967, Tom came to Western Michigan University, as a member of the, then, Speech Department. He taught courses in public relations, interpersonal and nonverbal communication, listening, argumentation and organizational communication. During most of this time, he was the undergraduate academic advisor for the department, also serving one year as graduate advisor.

He was a consultant and trainer to numerous organizations, agencies and institutions in the areas of public opinion analysis, listening behavior and nonverbal communication, and co-authored four books, Communication in the High School Curriculum, Play Production in The High School, Play Production Today, and Speaking by Doing.

Tom made friends easily, many lasting throughout his life. He had a passion for baseball and played through high school, was an enthusiastic Cardinals fan, an Eagle Scout, and enjoyed singing in his church choir. He and several friends started a gospel quartet called ''The Travelers" and performed in many southern churches in the ‘60s. He married his high school sweetheart, Susan Crews, and they had two children, Jeff and Kathy.

He led a rich, full life. Traveling, meeting new people, and exchanging ideas was always a pleasure. A labor of love was his log cabin on a lake in northern Michigan, a favorite place for many years. He was a good friend, well read, with an extraordinary memory and a wonderful sense of humor, and for over forty years, was a dedicated teacher who had a positive effect in the lives of many students.

Preceding him in death were his parents, John and Madge, and his daughter Kathy. He is survived by his son Jeff, sister Wanda Oakey, niece Jeanne DeNeal, grandchildren Leighton and Amanda, eight great grandchildren, and Winston.

Following Tom's wishes, a graveside service at the Cobden Cemetery in Cobden, Illinois is planned and will be announced at a later date. For friends who wish to commemorate his life, consider a contribution to one of his favorite charities: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, or SPCA of Southwest Michigan. We extend a grateful thank you to all the kind and gentle care givers at Centrica Care Navigators.

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