Long-time trustee, Dr. Ralph Athen Tesseneer Jr., dies at 91

Long-time trustee, Dr. Ralph Athen Tesseneer Jr., dies at 91

Oct. 16, 2015


By Joan C. McKinney, news and publications coordinator


CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. -- Faith. Courage. Joy. Love. Visionary. Integrity. Authority. Responsibility. Kind. Gentle. Graceful. Visionary.

Dr. Ralph Tesseneer

These words were mentioned over and over during the funeral of Dr. Ralph Athen Tesseneer Jr., a trustee of Campbellsville University, Oct. 14 as he was eulogized. He was 91.

Dr. Michael V. Carter, president of Campbellsville University; Dr. Mike O’Neal, pastor of Campbellsville Baptist Church; General Noah Loy, chaplain of Bluegrass Way Dr. Larry Noe, a fellow trustee; his sister, Susan Tesseneer-Pope and his son, Dr. Ralph A. Tesseneer III, gave testimony to the visionary man who was “Dr. T.”

Tesseneer died Oct. 11 at his home at Bluegrass Way, a year after his wife of 69 years, Laura Mae Fisher Tesseneer, died Feb. 13, 2014.

In an announcement about Tesseneer’s death, Carter said, “On behalf of the Campbellsville University family, we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the family of Dr. Ralph Tesseneer.

“He was truly a dedicated Christian servant leader who gave of his time, talents, and resources to Campbellsville University as well as to other universities during a very accomplished career.

“He touched the lives of so many students during his time in higher education, and he served the larger community and the church in numerous capacities.

“Dr. Tesseneer was one of the true visionaries on the Board of Trustees of Campbellsville University, and his impact will long be evident. We will be praying for all of the family in the days to come.”

Tesseneer served as a trustee in 1991-94, 1995-98, 2001-04, 2005-08, 2005-2008, 2010-13 and 2014-15. He was an associate trustee in 2009.

Tesseneer was a psychology professor at Western Kentucky State College, McNeese State College, Murray State University (where he was also dean of the Graduate School), Northern Kentucky University (where he was also vice president, interim president and president of the Foundation) University of Durham in Durham, England (as a visiting professor) and Campbellsville University (where he was also vice president for development).       

Tesseneer was the recipient of multiple academic and community awards and recognitions. He was a life-long Baptist and served as a deacon, and in other leadership positions, in numerous churches. He was a devoted Rotarian and the president of several Rotary clubs. He was a Rotary District Governor in Kentucky.

Tesseneer was a counseling psychologist in mental health clinics in communities where he lived; he was also a frequent public speaker and an educational consultant. He was known as a “visionary in his thinking and warm and caring in his interactions with everyone he met.”

He earned a B.A. in Psychology from Tufts College, an M.A. in Educational Administration and Psychology from Peabody College and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Louisiana State University.

Tesseneer spent his high school and early college years in Murray, Ky. During World War II, he served in the Navy in the Pacific Theater.

He was the son of the late Ralph Athen Tesseneer Sr. and Susan Geneva Kirkland Tesseneer, and was born in Russellville, Ala., on April 23, 1924.

He is survived by a daughter, Susan Tesseneer Walters and husband, Joe, of Campbellsville, Ky.; son, Dr. Ralph Athen Tesseneer III, and wife, Beverly, of Spartanburg, S.C., and Herbert Hoffman Tesseneer and wife, Gale, of Florence, Ky.; three grandchildren: John Athen Tesseneer of Spartanburg, S.C., Neely Tesseneer Benton and husband, Brad, of Moorhead, Minn., and Davaajargal Dorjsuren of Ulan Bator, Mongolia and Campbellsville, Ky.; two great grandsons: Thomas Athen Benton and John William Benton.

He is also survived by two sisters:  Myra Jean Tesseneer Cooper and husband, John, of Texarkana, Texas, and Susan Tesseneer-Pope and husband Ken, of Campbellsville, Ky. He was preceded in death by his wife; a brother, Gerald Ware Tesseneer, and a grandson, Ralph Joseph Walters.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial gifts be made to: The Ralph and Laura Tesseneer Scholarship Fund at Campbellsville University, Gideon’s International or Hosparus of Central Kentucky. Memorial gifts can be sent to Parrott-Ramsey Funeral Home for distribution: 418 Lebanon Ave., Campbellsville, KY 42718. Burial was in Brookside Cemetery. 


Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,500 students offering over 80 programs of study including 24 master’s degrees, seven postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.

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