Dr. Lisa Ann Wessman Crothers died at her home in Wooster December 11, 2019.
Born in Houston, Texas March 4, 1960, Lisa grew up with her family in many places around the USA and the world, including Texas, California, Colorado, Michigan, and Puerto Rico in the USA, and also Canada, Venezuela, Turkey and Algeria. These formative experiences in many cultures created a foundation and passion for Lisa’s lifelong pursuit of understanding the diversities of individuals and cultures.
After beginning her higher education career at Saint Clair County Community College (Michigan), Lisa earned her B.A. degree in 1990 from Muhlenberg College (Pennsylvania), majoring in Religious Studies. Her passion and talent for studying religion came into view at Muhlenberg, where she was honored with the Sher Award for Excellence in Classics and the Rosoff award for contributions to Jewish-Christian Dialogue. Lisa’s interests in the religions of India were also formed at Muhlenberg, under the guidance of her mentor, Susan L. Schwartz. She contributed as editorial assistant Schwartz’s book, Rasa: Performing the Divine in India.
After working for the global engineering firm Foster Wheeler for several years, Lisa resumed her academic pursuits at Indiana University-Bloomington, where in 1998 she earned her M.A. degree in Religious Studies, specializing in studies of Buddhism and Hinduism. Lisa’s talent as a teacher became clear at Indiana University. While pursuing her M.A., she was a Teaching Assistant in a very wide range of courses, and was honored with a Teaching Excellence Award by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Lisa continued her studies of religion at Emory University (Georgia). During her Ph.D. studies at Emory, Lisa was an American Institute of Indian Studies dissertation fellow in India for a year. And, as she had done throughout her educational career, Lisa worked as she pursued her education, managing Peach Vitamins, a health and nutrition retail store. Lisa earned her Ph.D. from Emory, in West and South Asian religions, in 2013, writing her dissertation on The Eyes of Power and Dharma: Conceptions of the Advisor in Early India.
Lisa taught at The College of Wooster from 2010-2015, as Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, teaching courses on South Asian religions, and helping develop the South Asian Studies program. Most recently, in 2018-2019, she served as an expert consultant in Buddhist Studies on a Mellon grant project to document and digitally present Buddhist artifacts in the College’s art museum collection. Lisa was an active scholar, presenting papers in religious studies and Asian studies at regional, national, and international conferences. Most recently, she contributed in 2016 a chapter to the book Dialogue in Early South Asian Religions: Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain Traditions, and in 2019 two papers at professional conferences.
This overview of Lisa’s life and career only illuminates a part of her talent, character and integrity. She is remembered by many students and by colleagues who knew her, worked with her, and valued her, as a skilled and dedicated teacher and mentor. She was guided throughout her life and career by the belief and knowledge that all persons have the capacity to flourish and the right to be supported in their educational and life pursuits. She was an advocate for all of her students, with a special focus of attention on international students, first-generation college students, students with a range of learning differences and ‘disabilities,’ as these experiences had been close to her own life experience.
Related to her dedication to seeing the talents in her students and friends, Lisa also had a gift for seeing beauty in many, many places in the world, both ordinary and extraordinary. In recent years, Lisa resumed her love for visual art, developing her talents as a painter and photographer, on her own and through classes at the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Canton Museum of Art. Her artist’s views of Secrest Arboretum, of the Killbuck Marsh, and of many places around northeast Ohio showed those places in new ways, to anyone who saw her work.
Lisa was preceded in death by her mother Glenda Christian Wessman, her brother Arnold Kenyon Wessman, Jr., and her nephew Arnold Kenyon Wessman III. She is survived by her father Arnold Wessman of San Juan Capistrano, California, her sister Lori Wessman Wurl and brother-in-law Scott Wurl of Bahama North Carolina, and her nephew Evan Wessman of San Juan Capistrano California. She is also survived by many, many students who loved and treasured her, and by friends and colleagues who also loved and treasured her talents and gifts of friendship and kindness.
Lisa Wessman Crothers was guided by the teaching to love God with all her heart, all her soul, and all her mind, and to love her neighbor as herself. She strived every day to see the beauty in the world and in everyone she met and knew, and to practice compassion and kindness for the sufferings of others, especially those most vulnerable in the world.
A memorial service will be held for Lisa at 5:00 p.m. on March 4, 2020 at St. James Episcopal Church in Wooster Ohio. Friends of Lisa are encouraged to attend, to say hello again and remember Lisa on what would have been her 60th birthday. Later, her family will be taking Lisa’s remains to San Juan Capistrano California for a memorial service there, and to rest there. Details to follow.
Those wishing to make a donation in her memory are invited to do so at either of two places near to Lisa’s heart: the Wayne County Humane Society (Wooster OH) or the Friends of Secrest Arboretum (Wooster OH).
(obituary written by Mark W. Graham)
Online condolences may be left for the family at www.mcintirebradhamsleek.com.
Wayne Co. Humane Society, 1161 Mechanicsburg Rd., Wooster, OH 44691 or to the Secrest Arboretum, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691
Memorial service on Wednesday, March 4, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. at St. James Episcopal Church, 201 N. Market St., Wooster
No calling hours