Baylor University Mourns the Passing of Dr. Charles Reeder, Associate Professor Emeritus of Chemistry

August 10, 2018

Charles Reeder, Ph.D., Associate Professor Emeritus of Chemistry

Media Contact: Terry Goodrich, 254-710-3321
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Waco, Texas (Aug. 10, 2018) — Baylor University is mourning the passing of Charles E. Reeder of Waco, Ph.D., Associate Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, who died Aug. 8. He was 91.

A service celebrating his life will be held at Seventh & James Baptist Church, 602 James Ave. in Waco, at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14. Graveside service will follow at Waco Memorial Cemetery. Family visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13, at OakCrest Funeral Home, 4520 Bosque Blvd. in Waco.

Charles Edgar Reeder was born on a farm in Jefferson County, Iowa, near the town of Perlee on July 20, 1927, to John Henry Reeder and Ella Grace Snook Reeder. He was the oldest of three children. He spent his early grade school years living on the farm and going to school in one-room school houses. His family moved to Fairfield, Iowa, while he was in high school, and he graduated from Fairfield High School in 1945.

Dr. Reeder served in the Army and after completing his basic training in San Antonio, he was stationed at Fort Bliss Army Hospital in El Paso, Texas, where he was assigned to Army Medical Corps. On the G.I. Bill, he earned his B.S. from Wheaton College in Illinois, then attended Iowa State University and earned his Ph.D. in chemistry. At Iowa State, he tutored the love of his life, Willa Mae VanDoorninck, who was a fellow science grad student, majoring in biology, and shared his love for teaching. They were married on Sept. 1, 1957, and spent their first year of marriage in Maine, where Charles taught chemistry at Bates College. He then accepted an associate professor position at Baylor University and moved to Waco in 1958. He taught in the chemistry department until he retired in 1993.

Soon after moving to Waco, he joined Seventh & James Baptist Church, where he later became a deacon and served as the church business secretary for many years. In the early years in Waco, he was a member of the Waco Kiwanis Club, and he and his wife were members of several square dance clubs. After his wife died and he retired, he remained active into his late 80s in the Shooting Stars Square Dance Club, the Retired Professor’s Group and the Friday Night Hamburger Group that met for many years at Kim’s Burgers in Waco.

Survivors include his children: Ruth Hanson and husband, Peter; John Reeder and wife, Brenda; and James Reeder; his sister, Kay Lackey, and husband, Kenneth; his brother, Paul Reeder; and five grandchildren, Sarah, Rebekah, Jonathon, Samuel and Elizabeth.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to The Baylor Chemistry Department Scholarship Fund, University Development, One Bear Place #97050, Waco, TX 76798-7050; or The Stilwell Memorial Residence, 5400 Laurel Lake Drive, Waco, Texas 76710.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.