A memorial service for James Kohland Hitt, 96, Lawrence, will be held Saturday, February 5, 2011, at 3 p.m. at the Lawrence Presbyterian Manor chapel at 1429 Kasold Drive. Mr. Hitt passed away Friday, January 14, 2011 at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor.
He was born February 14, 1914 in Everest, Kansas to James Boyd Hitt and Meta Kohl Hitt. He grew up in Hamlin, a small town in northeastern Kansas, with his younger brother George, and graduated from Hamlin High School in 1930 at the age of 16.
He was one of the first Summerfield Scholars at the University of Kansas (Lawrence), where he earned his B.A. in 1934 and his M.A. in 1936, both in mathematics. While at K.U., he joined Kappa Sigma fraternity, played piano in a small band that played for dances around town and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
In 1936 he married his childhood sweetheart, Bernadine Berkley, who also graduated from K.U. that year. They spent 62 rewarding years together until her passing in 1998. They raised two children, Alan of Stockton, California, and Nancy (Mrs. David Clark) of Shawnee, Kansas.
Mr. Hitt taught math at Dodge City Junior College and Wichita University before becoming Assistant Registrar at K.U. in 1940. He served in World War II in the Coast Artillery and returned to K.U. in 1946 as Registrar. He spent the rest of his professional life at the university, mostly as Registrar and Director of Admissions. The diplomas of generations of KU graduates bear his autograph. Well-regarded in his field, he served as president of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers in 1964-65.
Mr. Hitt felt a deep attachment to the university throughout his adult life. He chaired the Summerfield Scholarship Committee for many years and served on several other campus-wide committees. He also closely followed the Jayhawks’ athletic teams and accompanied, as faculty representative, the Wilt Chamberlain-led basketball team to the NCAA regional tournament in Dallas in 1957. He retired from K.U. as Registrar Emeritus on January 1, 1977.
In retirement he stayed busy. For many years he volunteered for Audio-Reader. Growing out of his experience caring for his beloved Bernadine, who lived with Alzheimer’s disease for many years, he co-founded the Caregiver Support Group for Douglas County Senior Services. He lived the last 23 years of his life at the Lawrence Presbyterian Manor and served as the first president of the manor’s Resident Council.
He is survived by his brother George, Evanston, Illinois; his children Nancy and Alan; his California grandsons Jason and Brian Hitt; his granddaughter Lynn Laakso of Marquette, Michigan, two great-granddaughters, a niece and two nephews.
For those who wish to honor him, the family suggests contributions to the Good Samaritan Fund at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor, Douglas County Senior Services Caregiver Support Group, Lawrence Habitat for Humanity or the Lawrence Health Care Access Clinic, sent in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, 601 Indiana Street, Lawrence, Kansas 66044.
Online condolences may be sent at rumsey-yost.com.