Thane Chastain

Thane Chastain, 62, of Wichita, Kan., died unexpectedly in his sleep Feb. 25.

At the time of his death, he was director of virtual learning and engagement for the Kansas Leadership Center.

Born in Hutchinson, Kan., he graduated in 1982 from Bethel College, where he was a standout in forensics, debate and theater.

From 1985 to 1992, he served Bethel in various roles, including instructor of communications, director of institutional marketing, resident director of Warkentin Court, manager the radio station KBCU and assistant to President Harold Schultz.

Susan Schultz Huxman, president of Eastern Mennonite University, who graduated in Bethel’s class of 1982 with Thane and shared many activities with him, said he had “an astonishing ability to model opposite skill sets with ease and with joy. I have never met anyone as comfortable and proficient both in front of a camera or in front of a stage . . . as he was behind the scenes, running tech boards, sound, lights.”

Among his many career roles, he was tech director at KWCH-TV in Wichita, a youth minister in the United Methodist Church and an instructor (and colleague of Huxman) at Wichita State University, where he earned a master’s degree in mass communication.

But perhaps greatest legacy is as a mentor to others. “His many students describe him as a man who ‘took my questions and ideas and raised my expectations of what I could do two- or three-fold,’ ” Huxman said.

Christine Crouse-Dick, who chairs Bethel’s communication arts department, said he “selflessly offered himself as a long-term networking resource for communication arts students and graduates. I am so blessed and honored to have learned from Thane and shared a precious friendship anchored by great Mennonite values. He was the best Methodist apologist for Mennonites I’ve ever met.”

Survivors include his mother, E. Jane Chastain; a brother and sister-in-law, Shawn and Debbie Chastain; two nieces and a nephew. He was preceded in death by his father, Phillip E. Chastain.

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