Wanda June (Dean) Rich, 82, passed away Saturday, January 9, 2021, at Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg, Ohio, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. She was born in McAlester, Oklahoma, on April 9, 1938, the daughter of Atha (Magruder) Dean and Wade Dean, the fifth of six daughters. The family lived in McAlester and Buffalo Valley before settling in Ada, Oklahoma, where Wanda graduated from Ada High School in 1954 and East Central State University with a degree in English Literature in 1958. She obtained a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Oklahoma State University in 1960.
Wanda spent two years teaching literature at the Beirut College for Women (affiliated with American University of Beirut), Lebanon, before returning to the United States to enroll in a Ph.D. program in English Literature at Bowling Green State University in 1962. She taught at BGSU as a graduate teaching assistant and held a teaching fellowship from 1965-1966 at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston. She married Dr. Charles Clayton Rich of Bowling Green, Ohio, on June 9, 1966, in Wakefield, Rhode Island, and returned to Bowling Green, where she and Charles raised their children, Geoffrey Dean Rich and Charlotte Jennifer Rich. She was active in the community, volunteering for Wheeled Meals, the League of Women Voters, and the Black Swamp Arts Festival, and she was a member of the Friends of the Wood County Library and Friends of the Wood County Parks. After Charles retired, she and he enjoyed traveling throughout America, especially the Southwest, learning about local history and culture, and searching for the ultimate diner with the best pie.
Wanda is survived by her son Geoffrey of Bowling Green, Ohio, her daughter Charlotte of Lexington, Kentucky, and her grandchildren Sophia June Price and Alexander Frank Price both of Lexington, Kentucky. She is also survived by three sisters, Doris (Dean) Roberts, Jo Ann Dean, and Jeanette (Dean) Cook, all of Oklahoma; nephews Michael Dulaney of Texas, Paul Roberts of Florida, Eric Roberts of Arkansas, Bill Pyles and David Pyles of Oklahoma, and Nathan Cook of Arizona; nieces Macy Cook of Arizona and Jessica (Cook) Wells of Oklahoma; and many grand-nephews and grand-nieces.
She was preceded in death by her sisters Phyllis (Dean) Dulaney of Texas and Faye (Dean) Pyles of Oklahoma and two nephews, James Dulaney and Steve Dulaney of Texas.
Though her parents came from modest means and did not have the opportunity to pursue education beyond high school, they instilled their daughters with a love of education that Wanda embodied throughout her life. Obtaining a Master’s Degree at the age of twenty-two and with an innate sense of adventure, she journeyed all the way to the Middle East to teach and inspire others with a love of learning. This opportunity also inspired Wanda’s love of travel that she held throughout her life. Closer to home, Wanda loved reading, gardening, cats, regional cuisine, classic films, visits with friends at Grounds for Thought Coffeehouse, and walks in the wildflower meadows of St. John’s Woods. She was known to all by her intelligence, her astute and strong opinions, and her unique ability to see the humor in life.
A celebration of Wanda’s life will be held in the early summer. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wood County Humane Society, the Friends of the Wood County Parks, or the Black Swamp Arts Festival.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Deck-Hanneman Funeral Home & Crematory. 1460 W. Wooster Street. Bowling Green, Ohio 43402. www.hannemanfuneralhomes.com