Oklahoma Christian University biology professor Kim Gaither, who three weeks ago underwent surgery to remove a tumor on her brain, died Saturday after a brief hospital stay for complications from the surgery.

She was 46.

A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at Quail Springs Church of Christ in Oklahoma City.

“This is a very sad time in the life of this university,” OC President Mike O’Neal told students in the university’s daily chapel service Monday.

“Kim was small in stature, but truly a giant among men and women.”

O’Neal said many words come to mind when remembering Gaither.

One of the words, O’Neal said, is courage. Gaither was first diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago before the latest tumor was found on her brain.

“Most of us might have succumbed a lot earlier because of a lack of strength or heart,” O’Neal said.

“Faithfulness” is another word O’Neal associates with Gaither.

She returned to the classroom shortly after her brain surgery, and taught class Friday — the day before she died — even though family urged her to stay home when she came home from work exhausted on Thursday, O’Neal said.

“She would want us to continue with all we have to do and to do it with all our heart, and I’ll remember her example,” O’Neal said.

Gaither’s students wore pink Monday — a color associated with survivors of breast cancer — in Gaither’s memory. They also wore pink on Oct. 28, Gaither’s last day of teaching before she left for Pittsburgh for her operation.

More than two dozen students and staff at the university attended the come-and-go prayer vigil for Gaither Nov. 1, the day she had her brain surgery.

Gaither was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, and she underwent nine months of treatment for that disease.

Gaither graduated from Oklahoma Christian in 1981, returned to teach in 1988 and was serving as Professor of Biology at the time of her death.

She received the Gaylord Chair for Distinguished Teaching in 2004. She held a B.S. degree in Biology/Chemistry from Oklahoma Christian and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

She was an active member of the Quail Springs Church of Christ where she taught youth Bible classes and participated in outreach activities.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Demuth Funeral Home.

Memorials in Gaither’s name can be made to Oklahoma Christian University.

(David Hartman can be reached by e-mail at dhartman@edmondsun.com)


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