Judy Kiser (1944-2017)

Professor readied BGSU students for social work


FINDLAY — Judy Kiser, a retired assistant professor at Bowling Green State University who guided would-be social workers from the dawn of the undergraduate program in the field, died Nov. 30 in Bridge Hospice, Findlay. She was 73.

She had kidney failure, said her husband, James Carpenter.

Ms. Kiser retired from BGSU in 2010 and was granted emeritus status. She received a 2016 lifetime achievement award from the Ohio chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and was nominated this year for the association’s national award.

“She was pretty modest about that sort of thing,” her husband said.

She accrued several such accolades through her career. She was chosen as 1986 Social Worker of the Year by the Ohio chapter of the national association — and by the northwest Ohio unit of the state chapter. She was credited with developing a statewide system of continuing education through a then-new state licensing law. She also had been an officer in local and state organizations.

She was known for her expertise in ethical issues, said Peggy Adams, director of the BGSU social work program, who was a student of Ms. Kiser’s in the late 1970s.

Ms. Kiser brought to the classroom her experiences in the field — as a caseworker with Lucas County Children Services; as a clinical therapist for Family Service of Northwest Ohio, and as a supervisor for a mental health center. She readily told students what she’d gone through and offered advice.

“She knew what she was talking about,” Mrs. Adams said. “She always had time for the students. They would come in her office and sit and talk. She was so funny and was incredibly caring and compassionate and empathic, not judgmental.”

Ms. Kiser was a former member of the Hancock County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board. In addition, she supervised social services in nursing homes across northwest Ohio, her husband said.

She was hired by BGSU in 1974, one of two faculty members working in the new bachelor of social work program. The other was program director, Evan Bertsche, who had been personnel director of Lucas County Children Services.

She aspired to make social work accessible to residents of rural northwest Ohio, her husband said. “She had a lot of people who work in rural social work who saw her as their mentor,” he said.

Born July 26, 1944, in Risingsun, Ohio, to Margaret and Gerald Kiser, Ms. Kiser graduated from Lakota High School in 1962 and received a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from BGSU in 1966.

Social work was an interest from an early age, and she received a master of social work degree in 1968 from the University of Michigan.

She cherished Christmas, collecting manger scenes and developing a talent for gift wrapping.

“It’s more blessed to give than receive. That was paramount for Judy,” her husband said. “She had that sense she was there for people. If they had emotional needs, she was the person to go to in the family and in the community.”

Surviving are her husband, James Carpenter, whom she married Sept. 8, 1979; daughter, Juli Ann Phillips Hernando; sisters, Cara Black and Shirley Kiser; four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Services are pending. Arrangements are by Coldren-Crates Funeral Home, Findlay.

The family suggests tributes to the BGSU social work program.

Contact Mark Zaborney at mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.