[KB] Death of Phyllis Japp

Clarke Rountree rountrj at uah.edu
Mon Feb 10 14:02:48 EST 2014

Dear Burkelers:

I just saw this sad news on CRTNET (see below). Phyllis used to attend KB
Conferences. Her most notable Burke publication is perhaps this one:

"'Can This Marriage Be Saved?': Reclaiming Burke for Feminist
Scholarship." *Kenneth
Burke and the 21st* *Century.* Ed. Bernard L. Brock. Albany: State U of New
York P, 1999. 113-30.


Dawn O. Braithwaite, dbraithwaite at unl.edu

The passing of Dr. Phyllis Japp, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

From:  Dr. Debra Japp, St. Cloud State University, of behalf of her

Dr. Phyllis Japp died on Monday, December 2, in St. Cloud, MN, following
a sudden illness. She was surrounded by her family.  Dr. Japp, or
Phyllis, as she was lovingly called by both her colleagues and students,
was a mentor, teacher, and scholar who retired recently from the
Department of Communication Studies at the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Phyllis earned her BA (German) and MA (American
History) from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and her PhD
(Communication Studies) in 1986 from UNL. She was hired by her alma
mater, where she served as an assistant and associate professor, and
director of graduate studies.  Her scholarship focused on discourse
related to health, healing, and the environment, and on communication
ethics and rhetorical and feminist cultural theory. Phyllis collaborated
on a number of books and published chapters and critical essays in
several scholarly anthologies and journals. She received the Central
States Communication Association's Outstanding Teacher Award and
Distinguished Book Awards from both the Health Communication and Applied
Communication Divisions of the National Communication Association.
Phyllis believed her students were her most significant contributions to
the discipline. She encouraged excellence from them and was supportive
and proud of their achievements. Her students, in turn, admired her
intellect, wit, and professionalism. Phyllis embodied the virtues of a
scholarly life. She believed that teaching well and writing well were
profound obligations. She valued intellectual diversity and advised her
students to "not hurry," "read good stuff," and to "think before you
write." She was beloved for her capacity to create safe conversational
spaces for students and simultaneously to push them beyond their comfort
zones.  Her professional legacy will be former students who continue to
take risks, challenge established ideas, pose socially relevant
questions, and pursue thoughtful answers.

While a faculty member at UNL, Phyllis's students and colleagues would
often find her at The Mill, a coffee house in Lincoln.  Phyllis loved
conversation so she gladly postponed her reading and writing to listen
and to chat, usually in that order. She listened respectfully, and when
she did speak her insights were tempered with humility and humor.  She
preferred the thought-provoking question to the statement of her own

Phyllis is survived by her husband, Lyle, two children--Debra of St.
Cloud, MN, and John (Janet) of Knoxville, TN--two grandchildren, two
great-grandchildren, and five siblings. She adored her family and spent
much of her last two years collaborating professionally with Debra, a
Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at St. Cloud State
University. Phyllis and Debra co-authored several scholarly works and
shared a wonderful mother-daughter-colleague-best friend relationship.
Her family and friends will remember her for her love of reading, joy of
learning, and an appreciation of nature. She lived a life of integrity,
quiet dignity, and deep faith. We miss her, but are better for having
had her in our lives.

Those who wish to honor Phyllis may do so by donating to the "Phyllis
Japp Scholars Fund" at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which
supports student research. Donations may be made at
dent-development-fund-01100710, or by check to the NU Foundation at 1010
Lincoln Mall, Lincoln NE 68508. Indicate "Phyllis Japp fund" on the memo
line. For assistance, contact Victor Martinez at 402-458-1185.

Dr. Clarke Rountree
Chair and Professor of Communication Arts
342 Morton Hall
University of Alabama in Huntsville
Huntsville, AL  35899
clarke.rountree at uah.edu
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