Donald Mark Royer graduated from life at the age of 97 on Thursday, November 1, 2012 at his apartment at Friends Fellowship Community, Richmond, Indiana, surrounded by love. He is survived by his son, Christopher of Newton, MA and grandchildren Nathaniel (Mukti) and Eliza, his daughter, Anita (Douglas) of Shelburne, VT, and granddaughter Lena, and brother Luke (Finny)of Stevens, PA, 5 nieces and nephews, and a wonderful circle of dear friends. He was predeceased by his sister Floy Royer Eshleman and his wife, Mary Louise Taylor Royer. Don was born July 9, 1915 in Denver, Pennsylvania to Daniel Mark and Sue Wolf Royer, the oldest of their three children. He came of age in this small Lancaster County Pennsylvania German town, where he was a standout high school basketball and baseball star and intellect, and was encouraged at a young age by his grandmother Mahala to consider the esteemed profession of teaching. An early love of good music, good food and hospitality for others, his father’s considerable rose garden, and an upbringing in the historic Peace Churches left their indelible mark, were cultivated throughout his active life, and passed on to his children, grandchildren, his community, and friends near and far.
After receiving a BA from Elizabethtown College, he married, and then went on to earn his MA from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and PhD from the University of Chicago, and settled in Indiana to become a professor of sociology, a career that he truly enjoyed and that sustained him for the rest of his life. He was an inspired college professor, beloved by his students, with a primary focus on racial and ethnic relations, starting at Manchester College, then Earlham College, Indiana University and Ball State University until his retirement. In between teaching assignments, he was director of UNESCO International Work Camps in Bavaria, Germany in 1956, won a Ford Foundation Research Grant in 1961 for research on Russian cultural patterns, from 1962-1964 was Research Sociologist for The Governor’s Civil Rights Commission project on enlarging opportunities for minorities in higher education, from1968-1972 was Chairman of Mayor’s Human Relations Commission, and in the 70’s had overseas teaching assignments in London and Germany. He has numerous publications to his credit.
Not the retiring sort, Don began his second career of community service and organizing in Richmond at the age of 67. After leading hiking tours to Germany, where the groups visited magnificent rose gardens, Don was inspired to spearhead the creation of Richmond's All-America Rose Garden at Glen Miller Park and initiated the Rose City Partnership with Zweibrucken, Germany. He founded the Whitewater Valley Wanderers Volksmarch Club and hiked with them into his 90’s. He helped initiate the Richmond Adult School and for 30 years taught with gusto his class on Current and World Affairs. At the heart of his activities was a deep desire to make the world a more fair and beautiful place, while having a good time along the way. He so enjoyed gathering with friends and family for wine, cheese and good conversation; and playing rousing games of Parcheesi with his grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life will be held at West Richmond Friends Meeting on December 16, 2012 at 2:00 P.M. All are welcome. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his name may be made to the Richmond Friendship Rose Garden, c/o Wayne County Foundation, 33 S. 7th St, Richmond, Indiana. The family would like to give a special thanks to all of Don’s friends and helpers in Richmond and at Friends Fellowship Community and Asera Care Hospice who gave sustenance in his last months. Arrangements are being handled by Stegall-Berheide-Orr Funeral Home. Condolences may be sent to the family via the guest book at www.stegallberheideorr.com.