Elaine L. Tatham (age 83) returned home to join her Heavenly Father on August 1, 2019. The funeral services to celebrate her life will be at Journey Bible Church (13700 W. 151st Street, Olathe, Kansas) at 10:30am on Saturday, August 10th. A reception and visitation period with the family will immediately follow the funeral service. The family suggests contributions to the Olathe Medical Center Charitable Foundation, the Olathe Public Library Foundation, or Journey Bible Church missions. If flowers are sent, please send them to Journey Bible Church.
Elaine was a generous servant leader who loved Jesus, her family, and her community. She was born July 7, 1936 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the Swedish Hospital the daughter of Lloyd Johnson and Elsie Syverson. She was baptized at Lands Lutheran Church in Zumbrota.
Anyone who knew Elaine would say that she was one of the smartest people they ever met. Elaine started her education at Margaret Fuller grade school in Minneapolis. She graduated as co-valedictorian from Zumbrota High School in Minnesota. She earned a B.A. in mathematics from Carleton College in Minnesota. After graduation from Carleton, she received a scholarship from the Norwegian shipbuilders to attend the University of Oslo (Norway). She earned a M.A. in mathematics and an Ed. D. in Educational and Psychological Measurement from the University of Kansas. She was a faculty member in the mathematics department at the University of Hawaii, Franklin College (IN), and Ottawa University (KS). She was an adjunct faculty member in the graduate level Engineering Management program at the University of Kansas for 18 years. She coordinated the mathematics program for the first National Science Foundation Institute held in Japan for teachers of military dependents.
While attending the University of Kansas, Elaine met the love of her life: Clifford Blenn Tatham. They were married on August 20, 1960. Elaine and Cliff spent their first four years of marriage in Hawaii, and they continued to enjoy Hawaiian culture and music throughout their lives. Elaine thought travel and love were more important than possessions, so over the years, she and Cliff traveled to Hawaii, Japan, South Korea, Great Britain, Scotland, France, Monaco, Sweden, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Denmark, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Iceland, Sri Lanka, Qatar, and numerous cities in the United States and Canada. Her favorite saying was “we can buy more stuff, but we can’t buy more time with each other.” They celebrated nearly 57 years of marriage together before Cliff’s death in March 2017.
Elaine’s non-teaching career started when she took a position as the first Director of Institutional Research at Johnson County Community College. Before accepting the position, she insisted that she be allowed to work just 4 days a week so she could stay home with her children on Mondays. After 10 years at the Community College, she briefly served as Vice President of Padgett Thompson before forming ETC Institute in 1982, where she served as president until her death. Over the next 37 years, ETC Institute would become one of the most successful community-based market research firms in the nation, and Elaine would be honored many times as one of the leading business women in the Kansas City area.
In addition to being a successful business women, Elaine was a community leader. She received the John T. Barton award for serving as an Olathe planning commissioner for 10 years. She was a member of several boards at the Olathe Medical Center, a board member of the United Community Services of Johnson County, on the Council of Advisors for United Community Services of Johnson County, a member of the Transit Advisory Council for Johnson County. She was also active in Girl Scouting both as a youth when she received the Curved Bar, the highest award at that time, and as an adult when she led a troop from elementary school through to high school graduation when all troop members received the Gold Award, which was the highest award in Girl Scouting at that time.
Elaine and Cliff both had an unfailing love in Jesus Christ, and though she experienced many health challenges late in life, her faith in Christ made her eternally optimistic. Elaine attributed her faith in Christ to a grandmother with whom she spent hours as a very young child and two aunts who faithfully witnessed to her as a child.
Elaine is survived by her daughter, Eirene Knott, her husband Hayden Knott, Eirene’s son, Nathan Shipley, his wife Hannah, and Eirene’s two step children Brandon Oliphant and Kayla Oliphant; her son Christopher and his wife Elizabeth and their four children, Colton and his wife Kristen and daughter Rylee, Erica and her husband Matt McIntyre and their son George, Emily and her husband Nathan Mushinski, and Christian Tatham. She is also survived by a brother Lance Johnson and sister Prudence Gushwa both of Minnesota, a brother Lyman Johnson of Virginia, and a cousin Joel Johnson of California and several nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.
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