Beloved CLU religion professor dies

Jarvis Streeter taught at university for 25 years

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Jarvis Streeter faced life, and death, with a spirit and strength that earned him the admiration of countless friends, students and colleagues.

Photo: Brian Stethem

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Dec. 24, 2013) Jarvis Streeter, a much-loved California Lutheran University religion professor, died of pancreatic cancer at his home on Monday. He was 64.

The Santa Rosa Valley resident faced life, and death, with a spirit and strength that earned him the admiration of countless friends, students and colleagues. Teaching at CLU for 25 years through spring of this year, the widely read scholar conveyed complex theological issues in plain language that resonated with students. He connected with students beyond the classroom as well. He acted in plays with them, sang and played guitar in bands with them and officiated at their weddings. The Class of 1991 named him Professor of the Year and he received the President’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2004 and an Honorary Alumnus Award in April.

Streeter taught a Faith and Reason class that explored his fascination with the connection between science and theology. His book “God and the History of the Universe,” which he finished as he was dying, deals with the interplay of theology and the natural sciences. His 2008 book, “Human Nature, Human Evil and Religion,” explored the relationship between Christian thought and social science theories on human nature. A specialist in Christian theology, he also taught courses and gave public lectures on biblical studies, church history, ethics and global religions.

Born in Oakland on July 6, 1949, Streeter poured boundless energy, passion and love into everything he did and led a life of service beyond academia. Prior to coming to CLU, he taught high school science and math in a remote Kenyan village, participated in an archeological dig at Caesara Maritima in Israel and served as the pastor of Lutheran churches in Minneapolis. He was the president of the board of the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company, the professional theater company of CLU, and a member of the steering committee of the Association of Teaching Theologians of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He was a Renaissance man with interests in art, architecture, literature, music and travel.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Southern California, a master’s degree in divinity from Luther Seminary, a master’s degree in sacred theology from Yale University Divinity School and a doctorate in theology from Southern Methodist University.

Streeter is survived by Susan Gresham Streeter, his wife of 25 years; his stepdaughters, Kamaliah Nicole Smith-Cole of Oviedo, Fla., and Megan Simone Smith of Siem Reap, Cambodia; his father, Jarvis Streeter VI of Thousand Oaks; and his sister, Ann Goldsmith of Diamond Bar.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, in CLU’s Samuelson Chapel. In lieu of flowers, his family requests that donations be made to CLU for the Streeter Family Endowment to benefit the Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival.