Friends, family and loved ones will gather Monday and Tuesday in Prairie Village to remember Rick Royer, a beloved math teacher who retired from SM East in 2012 after four decades at the school.
He died Wednesday, Sept. 26 at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. Royer was 67.
Born in Abilene, Kan., in 1951, he graduated from Abilene High School in 1969 before heading to the University of Kansas, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Education in December 1972. He started working at SM East shortly after graduation and remained there for his entire 40 year career, becoming a fixture in school culture.
With his approachable demeanor and lightheartedness, he made tricky fare from geometry to calculus to trigonometry accessible for generations of students. At the time of his retirement, Royer estimated that he had taught more than 6,000 students in his classes. Many of the students he saw in his later years at SM East were the children of students he had taught early in his career.
For the final seven years of his career at East, Royer kept two coffee pots in his room on the school’s fourth floor. He filled one with hundreds of marbles — each representing a week left in his teaching career before his planned retirement. At the end of each week, he’d have a student take a marble from that pot and move it to the other, a way to mark the passage of time.
“It was just another way to make me appreciate the finiteness of my time here — make me not take it for granted quite so much,” Royer told the Harbinger, SM East’s student newspaper, back in 2012.
Royer is survived by his wife Stephanie, née Melander, who he met in elementary school in Abilene and married in 1971, as well as three brothers, Robert H. Royer of Abilene, Kan., Michael J. Royer of Tulsa, Okla., and Shannon Royer of Lawrence, Kan., and his mother-in-law, V. Chairyth Melander of Shawnee.
A visitation will take place tonight from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, 9100 Mission Road. Funeral services are scheduled at that church at 11 a.m. Tuesday. All are welcome to attend.
The family suggests that memorial contributions may be made to KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center, 4350 Shawnee Mission Pkwy, Fairway, KS 66205, Great Plains SPCA, 5424 Antioch Dr, Merriam, KS 66202, or Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, 9100 Mission Rd, Prairie Village, KS 66206.