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In Memoriam – Bedford Vestal

Bedford Vestal

Former CLS dean Bedford M. Vestal died peacefully in Houston, TX, on April 25, 2016, after a long battle with congestive heart failure. Vestal served as interim dean for CLS from 1994 to 1995 and was fondly remembered as a congenial and thoughtful leader.

Obituary Excerpt from the Norman Transcript

Bedford was born March 8, 1943, in Gainesville, Texas, one of two children of Bedford Skaggs and Frankie Mather Vestal. He grew up on a dairy farm near Valley View, Texas, where he learned the work ethic, love of the natural world and interest in people that be­came his legacy.

After graduating from high school, Bedford received a degree in biology from Austin College in Sherman, TX, where he met his wife of more than 50 years, Carolyn Harris Vestal. He completed a Ph.D. in zoology from Michigan State University in 1970 and then embarked on a long career of teaching at University of Missouri St. Louis, as research curator at the Oklahoma City Zoo, and finally as a professor of zoology and dean of the College of Liberal Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

He loved teaching and advising and influenced the lives of hundreds of future doctors and scientists. After retiring, he enjoyed traveling with friends, indulging his passion for World War II history, playing with grandkids, and honing his gourmet cooking skills. Our mem­ories of him are many and fond; he taught his family and friends to persevere in the face of challenge, to love with all of your heart, to get to know people for who they are, and to always be curious.

Bedford is preceded in death by his mother and father, sister Vanna Voncille Martin and niece Denise Pearse. He is survived by his wife Carolyn, son Ward and wife Leslie Vestal of McKinney, TX, son Wesley and wife Jenny Vestal of Houston, TX, daughter Sarah Vestal of Norman, OK , grandchildren Cassie Vestal, Alex Vestal, Molly Vestal, Lucy Vestal and Caroline Vestal and nephew Jack Martin of Era, TX.

Read more about Bedford in the 2011 Insight CLS Deans feature.

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The College of Liberal Studies is a fully accredited academic unit of the University of Oklahoma, offering 100% online, hybrid and onsite bachelor's and master's degrees for working adults and non-traditional students.

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