Western professor dies

Shawntaye Hopkins

Larry Mayhew, 54, a part-time professor of philosophy and religion and computer science for 30 years, died Friday morning of an unknown cause while awaiting medical examination.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. today at J.C. Kirby and Son Funeral Home on Lovers Lane. The funeral will be held tomorrow at 11:30 a.m.

A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Mayhew began teaching in 1972. He was on sabbatical leave this semester, trying to complete an algorithm for solving ciphers.

“He highly believed in education. That was his life,” said Jerry Mayhew, his brother.

Jerry Mayhew remembers Larry skipping grades and, as a child, having interests in astronomy and chess. He was a member of the United States Chess Federation.

Jerry Mayhew added that his brother had liver problems for many years and suffered from cancer of the liver. It’s unclear whether those conditions contributed to his death.

Larry Mayhew was in the hospital awaiting the result of a biopsy when his vital organs failed, said Jerry Mayhew.

“None of us were expecting it at all,” said fellow philosophy and religion professor Arvin Vos.

Vos said Mayhew was a very thoughtful and caring man.

Jan Garrett, also a philosophy and religion professor, said Mayhew always had something important to say.

“When he opened his mouth, you knew he was going to say something worth listening to,” Garrett said.

Although it is possible to replace someone in the position it is not possible to replace Larry Mayhew, Garrett said.

“He was a very impressive teacher, and he had an extreme intellect,” said Arthur Shindhelm, head of the computer science department.

Mayhew’s survivors include his wife, Becky, and his son, Christopher. Besides his brother Jerry, he had two sisters, Sheryl Alvernaz and Merry Rorabaugh.

A veteran of the Vietnam War and recipient of the Bronze Star, Mayhew was an ordained deacon of Eastwood Baptist Church.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]