Former Wheaton College president dies at 79
August 20, 2010
J. Richard Chase, President Emeritus of Wheaton (IL) College, died at Windsor Park Manor in Carol Stream, Illinois, today.
Chase was 79 years old. He served as the sixth president of the college, leading the institution from 1982 to 1993.
Chase, the second of four boys born to James Warren Chase and Nina Marie Fiscus Chase, was born Oct. 7, 1930. He grew up near Oxnard, Calif., on the Chase Brothers Dairy, a family-owned business.
In high school, Chase met Mary Sutherland, and the two dated for four years, marrying while both were students at Biola College (now Biola University) in Los Angeles. Samuel Sutherland, Mary’s father, eventually became the fifth president of Biola.
Chase graduated from Biola in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in theology, then earned a bachelor’s degree in speech education and a master’s degree in speech at Pepperdine University. He taught in Biola’s speech department and pastored a church in Hollywood before taking a leave from teaching. During that leave, he earned a doctorate in rhetoric and public address from Cornell University. He also served as a youth pastor at a church in Ithaca, N.Y.
Chase then returned to Biola and continued to teach in the speech department, developing the forensic program and forming debate teams. He served as chairman of the speech department and chairman of the humanities division, eventually becoming vice president in 1965. In 1970, he became the sixth and youngest president of Biola College.
In 1982, Chase was appointed president of Wheaton College. The college enjoyed significant growth under his leadership in a broad range of areas, college officials said. Chase oversaw the beginning of the college’s first doctoral program, in clinical psychology, and the founding of the Center for Applied Christian Ethics. During his tenure, Wheaton’s original building, Blanchard Hall, was renovated, and Anderson Commons was constructed.
Chase is survived by his wife, Mary; two children, Kenneth Chase (wife Linda) and Jennifer Chase Barnard (husband Daniel); and 7 grandchildren.