Sunday, May 10, 2009

Andy Van Gundy, RIP

I was shocked and saddened to learn from my good friend Alan Black that Andy Van Gundy had passed on. Like millions of his other followers, I had known about Andy's work in creativity and innovation through his scholarly work, Techniques of Structured Problem Solving. And then I joined the Wonderful World of CPSI and got to meet him. He was nothing like I had imagined him to be, and when I got to know him, he was nothing like he appeared to be. "Arthur B. Van Gundy" is a very stuffy kind of name, the sort one expects to see on the door of a lawyer's office; but Andy was anything but stuffy. He had an impish mind and delightfully underplayed sense of humour. He looked like, say, an accountant. No offense to accountants, they are essential to survival of the human race. But creativity? Andy was funny, Andy was inventive, and Andy was very, very smart. No he wasn't the slap-your-back-and-roar-with-laughter kind of guy. He was a professor, looked professorial and mild-mannered -- in appearance, anyway. But he was great to hang out with.

More importantly, he has left behind written works that millions can use to bring creativity and innovation into their own lives and those of others. Here's a list from Amazon.

Some people vanish without a trace. Others live in the memories of those they touched. And then there are the very special ones whose spirit lives on in the works of generations of others whose lives they have significantly influenced and transformed. Andy, your presence will be missed, but your spirit ain't about to call it quits, buddy. Farewell, and happy trails, my friend -- wherever you are now, I'm pretty darned sure you're busy transforming the place.

UPDATE: Obituary written by his daughter, Sarah van Gundy (thanks to Alan).
Obituary for Daddy

Dr. Arthur "Andy" Boice VanGundy, Jr., who died Tuesday night of complications following heart surgery, was known for his variously wry and absurd sense of humor. Students in his classes in the Department of Communication at the University of Oklahoma, from which he retired as Professor Emeritus in May 2008, had to watch out for flying nerf balls, goofy puns, and often bizarre pop culture references. Dr. VanGundy devoted his career, and much of his life, to the study of creative problem solving and innovation research, publishing sixteen books and numerous articles on the subject.

He was born May 24, 1946 in Lancaster, Ohio to Dr. Arthur Boice and Sara Jane (Sally) VanGundy, both now deceased. He was the oldest of four boys, and is survived by his brothers Dr. Gregg VanGundy, , Ralph VanGundy and Christopher VanGundy. Chocolate syrup on the velvet couch, and a crib-launched escape from an open window are only two of the many adventures the four boys had growing up in the house on the hill in Lancaster.

Andy graduated from high school in Lancaster and went on to earn a B.A. in Psychology from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1968, an M.S. in Personnel Counseling from Miami University (Ohio) in 1970, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from The Ohio State University in 1975. In 1976, Andy moved to Norman, Oklahoma where was hired as an Assistant Professor of Human Relations at the University of Oklahoma, becoming an Associate Professor in 1982 and Full Professor in 1987, after moving to the Department of Communication, where he worked until his retirement in May 2008.

While at The Ohio State University, Andy met and married Denilyn Wilson, who moved with him to Norman. The couple had two daughters, Sarah and Laura, together and some hilarious and not so hilarious moments before divorcing in 1988.

Andy loved language and was known for wordplay and a love of clear writing. He also enjoyed wine, travel, and correcting the grammar of his family and colleagues. In his later years, one of his main joys was spending time with his granddaughter Chloe, who knew him as "Bumpa." He liked teaching her bits of Algebra, and preparing Boca Burgers for her, which were so exquisite she subsequently refused to eat those made by her mother.

He was deeply loved by his family, and will be missed always.

A public memorial service will be held at 2 pm on Tuesday, May 12th at the Havenbrook Funeral Home in Norman. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that mourners wishing to donate something in his name make contributions to Creative Oklahoma, Inc

(Written by Sarah VanGundy, May 8, 2009)


Doug hall said...

Just learned about Andy. He had the best balance of wisdom and humor in the industry. I'll never forget him challenging me. Many times with saying "doug always remember the creativity industry is one of the least creative industries on earth". His clear implication was. So what are you going to do about it. Doug Hall. Eureka Ranch

Murli said...

Doug, I am honored and delighted that you chose to stop by and leave a comment on my blog. I am huge fan of yours, and recall reading with deep envy about all the fun at Eureka Ranch.


About Andy -- gone too soon, like the best of them. Very sad.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for writing such kind and touching words about my brother. I have gone to your post to read about my brother over the years and each time have gone away with tears in my eyes. Andy (or "Art" as I used to call him--just to get his goat),will be deeply missed. Thank you again for your portrayal!
Ralph Van Gundy

Murli said...

Ralph, I choked up reading your comment, and so it's taken me a few days to respond. Wow, Andy's own brother finds solace in a spontaneous outpouring of mine from years ago! Andy was all about connecting that which appeared unconnected. Two persons on either side of the globe, brought together by the memory of one utterly delightful soul. Thanks for reminding me of Andy; some people are born to cheer up the rest of us.