Flora Reser Wyatt died on Sept. 25 at Hospice of the Piedmont in Charlottesville, Virginia, with her husband, Benji, her daughter Jami and twin sister Lora at her bedside.
Flora Reser was born Oct. 19, 1934 in Urbana, Missouri, to Delsena Hobbs and Lynn Jonah Reser.
Flora graduated from Urbana High School, then earned her B.S. degree in education from Southwest Missouri State University. She later received her M.S. degree from Central Missouri State University and attended the University of Kansas for advanced degree work.
Flora began her teaching career in Torrington, Wyoming, teaching at the elementary level. She later taught in the Raytown, Missouri, school district as an elementary teacher and was selected as a mentor for other elementary teachers. Flora served two summers in the Teach Corps, conducting workshops for teachers in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
In 1968, Flora began teaching at The University of Kansas in Lawrence and married Benji Keaton Wyatt. During her long career at the university, Flora taught undergraduate courses in reading, language arts and middle school curriculum and instruction. At the graduate level, she taught classes in the supervision of student teachers and writing.
Flora assumed many leadership roles in the KU School of Education. She served as chair of the scholarship committee, chair of the undergraduate field experience design committee and director of the Professional Development Schools Program. She also published many articles on teaching language arts, gifted education and reading. She and two elementary librarians published a resource book for teachers on authors of non-fiction books, for the integration of curriculum. As a member of Phi Delta Kappa, an honorary organization for educators, she edited the publication “Tales From the One-Room Schoolhouse,” the sales of which established a scholarship for KU education students. Flora also co-authored a reading program through a series of books with her sister-in-law and colleague, Nita Wyatt Sundbye, and colleague Norma Dyck, to help struggling young readers.
“Professor Wyatt” retired from the university in 2005.
Flora had a deep commitment to underprivileged children. She served as consultant to Project Follow Through in the Kansas City schools, part of the most extensive national educational experiment ever conducted, a 10-year longitudinal study to determine the best way to teach at-risk children from kindergarten through third grade. Her work in the Professional Development Schools Program also involved working with KU interns and classroom teachers in schools that serve underprivileged students.
She also had a deep concern for challenging the most intellectually capable students. She involved her KU students in innovative projects in elementary and middle schools to provide authentic teaching experiences.
During her career, Flora received many awards for excellence in teaching. She received the Outstanding Educator award from the University of Kansas; the H. Bernard Fink Award for Excellence in Teaching; the Outstanding Educator in America award; the Outstanding Educator award from KU’s Mortar Board; the Making A Difference Award from the KU School of Education; the Good Apple Award from the Lawrence School District; and the Outstanding Educator award from the Raytown School District. She was twice a finalist for KU’s HOPE Award — Honor for the Outstanding Progressive Educator — a decades-long tradition established by the Class of 1959 and given annually by the senior class to a notable KU professor.
Flora was also involved in volunteer service, serving as a Red Cross volunteer at Research Hospital and Lawrence Memorial Hospital, volunteering at “Friends of Hidden Valley” and numerous other local charities and schools.
Flora and Benji enjoyed many world travels, including to Japan, China and numerous trips to Europe. The only state she never visited was Alaska. She was an avid college sports fan — particularly of KU basketball — and she and Benji had season tickets to KU basketball and football games for over five decades. She enjoyed entertaining friends and family with gourmet meals and watching the activities of her grandsons Keaton and Cooper.
While retired in Virginia, Flora authored numerous educational children’s books dedicated to her grandsons, and she selected art students from local high schools and her grandsons’ school as illustrators. She gifted the books to her grandsons’ friends and her younger family members, and donated copies to schools and community libraries, in both Charlottesville and Lawrence.
Flora is survived by her husband, Benji; their daughter, Jami Wyatt (Melissa) of Charlottesville, Virginia; two stepchildren, Brent Wyatt of Kansas City, Missouri, and Wendy Wyatt of Seattle, Washington; two grandsons, Keaton and Cooper Wyatt, of Charlottesville, Virginia; her twin sister, Lora Gardner of Lincoln, Missouri; a niece, Pamela Reeder of Marshall, Missouri; and six grand-nieces and nephews, all of Missouri.
Her ashes will be interred at Pioneer Cemetery on the KU campus. No memorial service will be held, at her request.
If you would like to make a gift in her memory, her wish would be a donation to a local organization or service that supports children
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.teaguefuneralhome.com for the Wyatt family.