John L. McDaniels

John L. McDaniels

As a lifelong educator, John L. McDaniels, Phys’60, has inspired generations of students to embrace mathematics and physics. His late wife, Betty, also a lifelong educator, shared his passion for the classroom, encouraging students to explore English literature. Together, they influenced countless young lives as teachers and mentors.

After serving in the U.S. Army from 1954-1956 at Ladd Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska, John came to Rolla. While earning his bachelor of science degree in physics, he was a Cooperative Engineering Student with McDonnell Aircraft Corporation. After graduating in 1960, he worked for McDonnell Douglas for 14 years, specializing in research on outer space projects using cryogenics and vacuum technology. He also earned his master’s degree in mathematics education in 1977 from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

John joined the faculty of Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Illinois, in 1975 as a professor of mathematics and taught there for 21 years, retiring in 1996. In addition to teaching, he coordinated the community college’s Engineering Transfer Program with Missouri S&T and other universities, as well as the Water and Waste Water Technology Programs.

A member of Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Pi Sigma and Kappa Delta Pi honor societies, John is a Registered Professional Engineer in Illinois and Missouri and a licensed commercial pilot.

Betty began her career as a high school English teacher after earning her bachelor of science degree in English from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1958. She also earned a master’s degree in English from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in 1964. She retired from Alton High School in 1993 after more than three decades in the classroom.

Lifelong community volunteers, both John and Betty served on the board of the Alton Museum of History and Art. John is also a Distinguished Past President and Secretary of the Alton Kiwanis Club and was honored as the 2008 Man of Distinction by the Alton YWCA. Betty was active in Delta Kappa Gamma honor society for teachers, Kiwanis and the Illinois Retired Teachers Association. The McDaniels were also avid world travelers and long-time members of the Twelfth Street Presbyterian Church, where John served as a deacon, trustee and elder. When the church closed in 2011, John joined the Evangelical United Church of Christ. Betty died in 2011.

As advocates for educational opportunity, the McDaniels supported the Miner Alumni Association Annual Fund and Physics Development Fund, in addition to endowing scholarships at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois. Now, as a member of the Order of the Golden Shillelagh, John has generously established the John L. and Betty L. McDaniels Scholarship Endowment, ensuring that talented students for generations to come will have the opportunity to excel in the study of physics.