‘Gentleman’ president remembered

The life and contributions of Glenn Kendall, former president of Chico State University, were remembered March 19 at a memorial service open to the community.

Family, friends and people who had never even met the legendary “Southern gentleman” gathered at Bidwell Memorial Presbyterian Church to remember Kendall, who died March 5 at age 101.

The service was officiated by Pastors Steve Schibsted and Greg Cootsona and featured music by retired Professor Rolland Hauser. About 125 people were in attendance.

Kendall retired in 1966 from the position he had held since 1950. He was widely credited for transitioning Chico State from a small teaching school to a large regional university offering a wide range of programs.

“He truly set the course of events in a number of arenas having to do with education,” said Don Gerth, a Kendall protégé who is about to retire from the presidency of Sacramento State University. It was Kendall who 40 years ago gathered 400 colleges across the nation to form the still-thriving American Association of State Colleges.

Chico State President Manuel Esteban, who talked with Kendall two or three times a year, said he was always impressed with both Kendall’s memory of past events and how he kept up with current higher-education issues.

“His stories were incredibly vivid, and he could recreate any moment and situation,” said Esteban, who could also see how Kendall had been a formidable opponent on controversial issues.

John Sutthoff, Kendall’s former assistant and longtime friend, said Kendall’s top goal was to make sure the college was serving the area around Chico, helping people seek and achieve what they needed or wanted most out of life.

All of the speakers told of how the Tennessee-born Kendall could be extremely caring—and a little intimidating at the same time. Kendall and his wife, Susan, were known to drop by new professors’ homes in their Sunday best with welcome gifts of watermelon or peaches even as the newcomers were still sweatily settling in.

"Glenn and Susan were family to the people of Chico," Gerth said. "He was an extraordinary person who never saw himself as an extraordinary person."