Sharon VanOteghen

Posted Online: April 03, 2013, 7:01 pm
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Dr. Sharon Lea VanOteghen, 74, died on March 30, 2013, at the Methodist Hospice Center in Memphis, Tenn.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m Saturday, April 6, at Elim Covenant Church, 5201 18th Ave., Moline, with a burial following at Moline Memorial Park Cemetery. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to service time Saturday at the church.
Sharon was born on Jan. 27, 1939, in Rock Island, the daughter of Frank J. and Ethel V. Wahlgren VanOteghen. Sharon was a member of Elim Covenant Church in Moline and attended Central Church in Memphis, where she served in the women's ministry.
Sharon attended Moline Public High School and graduated as valedictorian of her class in 1957. She continued her education at the University of Iowa and received her bachelor's (1961) and master's (1968) degrees in health, physical education and recreation. She was a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta and Pi Lambda Delta Honor Society and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Sharon went on to receive her doctorate in physical education at Indiana University in 1973 and received the John H. Edwards Award, the highest award given to five graduate students each year.
Early in her career she taught at the secondary level in public schools in Minneapolis and Davenport and in 1977 began teaching undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of Memphis in the physical education department of health and sports sciences, where she recently was honored for 36 years. Sharon also took additional semester hours in business in 1992 and graduated Phi Kappa Phi at the University of Memphis.
Though her Christian faith defined her, she was dedicated to all aspects of physical education, health and wellness. Sharon was accomplished in her career and participated in hundreds of committees and seminars focusing on education, aging, wellness and health and sports sciences. She has more than 60 publications and has conducted, written and published more than 60 oral histories. Sharon has received many honors and awards in her career beginning in high school with the American Legion Citizenship Award to her appointment to co-chair the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Health in the state of Tennessee, in which she was involved from 1996-2003. She also was appointed a Tennessee delegate at the White House Conference on Aging in 1995 and an alternate delegate in 2005.
Sharon had many friends and colleagues whom she loved and deeply respected, and she enjoyed spending time with every one of them wherever life brought them. As camp counselors, playing field hockey, tennis or golf, going to a country music concert, planning activities with her women's ministry, lunches out with friends or traveling the country doing oral history studies or conventions. She always was independent and active and showed strength, integrity and courage throughout her life.
Sharon believed firmly in her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and taught that part of physical wellness began with spiritual wellness, and that was found in the Bible. She attributes her strong belief in the word of God to her parents and her Sunday school teachers at Elim, namely Katie Clarke.
Sharon is survived by her sister-in-law, Anita VanOteghen; three nieces and their husbands, Mary Jo and Pat Ribar, Omaha, Neb., Monica and Andrew Johnson, Knoxville, Ill., and Kristine and Shawn Anderson, Geneseo; and by her great-nieces and -nephews, Michelle, David, Rachel, Christian, Reagan, Olivia and Ava. Her parents and brother, Dennis, preceded her in death.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to VanOteghen HSS Scholarship Fund and mailed to Department 238, The University of Memphis Foundation, P.O. Box 1000, Memphis, TN 38148. This is a scholarship fund honoring Sharon and her dedication to education in health and sports sciences.
Online condolences may be left for the family at


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