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Longtime Taylor Math Prof, Lewis Center Director David Neuhouser Dies

  • Published: Apr 2, 2015 11:45AM
David Neuhouser

Taylor University Professor of Mathematics Emeritus and the founder of the Center for the Study of C.S. Lewis and Friends David Neuhouser died last evening following a sudden illness. He was 82. 

Neuhouser joined the Taylor faculty in 1971 and taught everything from calculus and algebra to trigonometry. But he always admitted that while teaching math was his chosen vocation, his passion was for the writings of C.S. Lewis. It was that love of Lewis' writings and those of his contemporaries that led to the creation of the Lewis Center in the Zondervan Library in 1996 when Taylor purchased a large number of first edition volumes of Lewis' writings and furniture from an English pub to recreate the Eagle and Child - the place where Lewis and his friends often gathered.

Lewis, one of the foremost Christian apologists of the 20th century, was a professor of medieval and Renaissance literature at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. A prolific author, his thirty book titles include such classics as Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Lewis died November 22, 1963, the same day as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Neuhouser read every one of Lewis’ works, along with numerous other articles and commentaries on Lewis’ life. Once when asked to name his favorite Lewis volume, he answered, “That’s impossible, whichever one I’ve reread most recently … one of the things that Lewis said is that if a book is worth reading once, it’s worth rereading.”

In addition to Lewis’ writings, Neuhouser was drawn to the writings of Lewis contemporaries J.R.R. Tolkien, Dorothy Sayers, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, and nineteenth century Scottish preacher George MacDonald, whose influence Lewis credited many times throughout his life.

Still, it was Lewis’ writings that had that initial impact on Neuhouser’s faith. “I was trying to resolve my doubts about Christianity,” he said. “Mere Christianity, I think, is the best introduction. It helped me to think through some of the paradoxes of Christianity, like the fact that Jesus was both God and man. But probably more crucial for me what the fact that God is all loving, all powerful, and yet there is suffering. There aren’t final answers – but (Lewis) helped me come to terms with it.”

Neuhouser was born March 28, 1933 in Cedar Creek Township in Allen County, a son of Joseph S. and Hattie K. (Tonkel) Neuhouser, and graduated from Huntertown High School in 1951. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1955 from Manchester College, received his master’s degree from the University of Illinois in 1959, and completed his doctorate in 1964 from Florida State University.

As a young man he taught at Manchester College from 1959 to 1971. In 1971 he moved to Upland and became professor of mathematics here. Following his retirement he continued to teach as a professor emeritus.

A gifted writer, he had authored numerous scientific articles, and was the author of two books: George McDonald: Selections from His Greatest Works, and Open to Reason. He had been a member of the Mathematical Association of America, the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences, and the American Scientific Affiliation. He attended the Grace United Methodist Church in Hartford City.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 61 years, Ruth. 

The other surviving relatives include his children Beth (Bill) Kreider of Upland, Kevin L. (Marian) Neuhouser of Seattle, Wash., Ann Robinson of Upland, and Carol (Mark) Stocksdale of Richmond; eight grandchildren Matthew (Toby McCrae) Kreider, Jill (Mike) Suver, Joshua Neuhouser, Rebecca ((Tovi) Eliaisen, James (Whitney Lingle) Robinson, Brian (Laura) Robinson, Joel Stocksdale, and Kyle Stocksdale; and five great-grandchildren.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother Calvin T. Neuhouser; and four sisters Bonnie Neuhouser, K. Lorraine Neuhouser, Mary L. Cossgrove, and Eva M. Leis.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, April 7, at the Sheets & Childs Funeral Home in Churubusco with Dr. William Ringenberg, officiating.

The family will receive friends at the funeral home on Monday from 2:00-4:00 p.m., and from 6:00-8:00 p.m., or one hour prior to the service Tuesday morning.

Interment will be in the Eel River Cemetery, south of Churubusco.

"I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now ..." C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Portions of his article were adapted from a 2001 story for the Taylor website.