Norman R. Chaney

February 19, 1935 ‒ May 06, 2020

Mount Vernon, Ohio

Norman R. Chaney, age 85, of Mount Vernon, Ohio, passed away on Wednesday, May 6, 2020 at his home surrounded by his loving family.  He was born on February 19, 1935 in Clay County, Indiana the son of Hareld and Mildred (Love) Chaney.  Norman proudly served in the United States Army as a Private First-Class medic.  He was a well-educated gentleman and used that knowledge to teach others, serving as a professor for over fifty years at Otterbein University where he just recently retired.

Norman was a 1954 graduate of Brazil High School in Indiana.  In 1960 he graduated from Indiana Central College earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and Philosophy.  Between being a full-time student at Yale University and taking classes in the summer at Indiana University, Bloomington, Norman graduated with a Master’s Degrees in Arts and Divinity specializing in Theology, English and Comparative Literature.   He would follow that with earning a Master’s Degrees in 1969 from the University of Chicago where he would also earn his Doctorate Degree in 1975 in fields of Religion and Literature.

Norman was a modern Renaissance man with varied interests.  He was a philosopher, poet, minister, naturalist/farmer, world traveler, private pilot, singer (opera: Verdi’s Aida, chorus, church choir), carpenter, and devoted husband, father, and grandfather.

Norman was a member of the United Methodist Church where he served as an elder for the South Indiana Conference.  He was also a member of the Modern Language Association, UFO United Flying Octogenarians, AOPA, American Association of University Professors, American Philosophical Association and American Academy of Religion.

He is survived by his wife, Freda M. (Morris) Chaney, whom he married on August 17, 1996; three children, Elizabeth Maher of Reelsville, Indiana, Paul Chaney of Reelsville, Indiana and Heather Chaney of Indianapolis, Indiana; step children, Adrian Chan of San Francisco, Jacqueline Chan of Marin County, California and Vicki (Todd) Lowery of La Grange, Kentucky; seven grandchildren; two sisters, Roberta (Brian) Turner of Canberra, Australia and Madeline (George) Barton of Westerville, Ohio.

Besides his parents he was preceded in death by a brother, Robert Chaney and a granddaughter, Arianna Dowdy.

Friends may call on Friday, May 22, 2020 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Dowds-Snyder Funeral Home, 201 Newark Road, Mount Vernon, Ohio 43050 where a funeral service will be held on Saturday, May 23, 2020 beginning at 11 a.m.  Chaplain Judy Utsler will be officiating.  Burial with military honors provided by the Knox County Joint Veterans Council will follow in Oak Grove Cemetery in Gambier.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Dr. Norman R. Chaney Memorial Scholarship, Otterbein University, 1 South Grove Street, Westerville, Ohio 43081 or online at

To share a memory or leave a condolence for the family, visit

The Dowds- Snyder Funeral Home of Mount Vernon is honored to serve the family of Norman R. Chaney.






  • Having Norman and his wife Freda as friends is due to my good fortune having married one of his favorite students, Diane. I met Norman at Otterbein – College, at the time, University, now – when he was Diane’s professor. During breaks in his class time, we would meet for coffee in the basement of Towers; eventually, we tired of the machine-made coffee and I brought coffee from the town center of Westerville, now “Uptown Westerville.” He was Doctor Chaney on campus; he was Norman off campus.

    We, Diane and I, have fond memories of Norman and Freda’s wedding, the opening of Chaney Manor, Norman’s attendance at Diane’s Otterbein graduation ceremony, Malabar Farm, day trips, their homes, our homes.

    Norman, the ultimate teacher, Norman, the fine woodworker, Norman, the musician, Norman, the conversationalist; Norman, the author, Norman, the Clergyman, Norman, the Husband, Norman, the Father, Norman, the friend—so many Normans in One Norman.

    Norman, the wood artist, built such fine and sturdy work to be in use longer than I. His wood creations include useful ones, beautiful ones, ones to hold treasures, ones to hold people, to rock and comfort them.

    Norman, the pastor whose flock included family, friends, students, pets, piano keys, fields, clouds, books.

    Norman seemed to enjoy looking at the clouds, yet found it insufficiently satisfying; how satisfying, to be in the clouds, moving through them.

    During our travels through many towns, villages, cities, countries, Norman was brought to our minds, especially in Chicago, Illinois, Brazil, Indiana, twelve thousand feet altitude at Independence Pass, The Continental Divide. And, Concord, Massachusetts where Emerson and Thoreau walked their path in nature, as Norman walked his, and as Hawthorne enjoyed his Old Manse, Norman enjoyed his Manor.

    He did like fountain pens and dip pens, and cursive writing. In Norman’s honor, I will write cursive as long as my arthritic hands allow.

    The old Ohio Village provided Norman with the craftspeople to fashion some of his favorite goods. He followed at least one of those craftspersons, a leather artist at Coshocton, Roscoe Village, to choose handmade belts.

    On Norman’s seventieth birthday, he gave gifts; he did not wish to receive any; I treasure mine.

    Norman respected brick and beams, stone and mortar; and, I believe Norman enjoyed ice cream.

    Diane and I will miss Norman and revere him with Freda, as soon and as often as possible.