In Memoriam: Huntingdon Remembers Dean Willard D. Top
Huntingdon learned today of the death of Dean Willard D. Top, who served as Dean of the College and professor of education at Huntingdon from 1971 until his retirement in 1995. Top Stage on The Green was named in his honor in 1994.
Raised in Iowa, he earned his Bachelor of Arts at Morningside College in 1949, Master of Science at Drake University in 1954, and Ed.D. at the University of South Dakota in 1964. Before joining the Huntingdon family, he served as a teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools in Iowa public schools and as a professor, director of graduate study, and director of the evening division at Morningside College. While at Huntingdon, he was a member of the American Association of Higher Education, the Council of Southern States' Deans, and the American Council of Academic Deans. He held several offices in the Alabama Consortium for the Development of Higher Education. He was a member of Kiwanis Club and of First United Methodist Church, Montgomery, for which he served on the administrative board for 12 years. Dean Top developed SEARCH and Prime Time, predecessors of the Adult Degree Completion Program; a Bicentennial Lecture Series and Cultural Events Series; the StepAhead program, which allowed high school students to take Huntingdon summer classes tuition-free; the Jan Term program; and a Cooperative Education Program at Huntingdon.
Former Registrar Jean Rodgers '49 said of Bill Top in 1994, "During all of the years of my working with Dean Top, to whom I reported, he was uniformly pleasant, helpful, and supportive. More important, however, was his commitment to achieving the best for Huntingdon College, both the institution and its students."
"Bill Top was part of the fabric of this College for 24 years, and the vital threads he wove into the curriculum, faculty development, and faculty leadership gave Huntingdon strength, resilience, and fortitude," said Huntingdon President J. Cameron West. "He had a great love for Huntingdon, and I am grateful for his legacy of dedication and service."
Dean Top and his wife, Esther, returned home to Iowa upon his retirement. He died in a nursing home in Sioux City last night at the age of 82. His family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts be made to the newly created Willard D. Top Endowed Scholarship Fund at Huntingdon College. Services are expected to be held in Iowa next week.