URBANA – Paul Herbert Van Wyk, psychologist, sex educator and therapist, chemist and musician, died Wednesday (Oct. 16, 2013) at the Champaign County Nursing Home in Urbana. He was 74 and had rationally and gracefully coped with the symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia since at least 2006 for as long as the illness allowed.
Born in Fond du Lac, Wis., Paul grew up in Pella, Iowa, New Brunswick, N.J., and Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, Mich. He attained a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hope College in Holland, Mich., in 1960, and completed all the requirements for a Master's of Science in chemistry except for a thesis at Roosevelt University, Chicago, in 1969. After working as a chemist for several years, and earning a patent for his research in the use of heterocyclic acids in phenolic resins in 1972, Paul dramatically changed his career path.
Paul earned a Master's of Arts in Human Sexuality from Goddard College, Plainfield, Vt., in 1975, developing a sex education curriculum for developmentally disabled adolescents and adults as a part of that study. He obtained training at the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry in Maywood and from William Masters and Virginia Johnson in Saint Louis, Mo., among others. He was one of the first sex therapists and sex educators certified by the American Association of Certified Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists in 1979. Paul developed and presented innovative courses in psychology and human sexuality, taught and trained others to teach the Unitarian Universalist sexuality education program "About Your Sexuality."
Paul earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, in 1982, having reanalyzed the original Indiana University Kinsey data to explore origins of psychosocial development of homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual behavior. After several more years of teaching, private practice in sex therapy, consulting, evaluating, and presenting workshops in many states and Canada, he began working in prisons and continuing private practice, first treating sex offenders in Missouri, and then as mental health director at prisons in Alabama and Indiana, where he utilized EMDR to help people resolve trauma and PTSD. He was an active member of numerous professional groups and published several articles.
Paul loved music and taught himself to play guitar, providing hours of enjoyment to those who heard and sang with him. He loved watching car racing and for his sixtieth birthday had the opportunity to suit up and drive a race car way too fast around the track at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
He worked crossword puzzles and enjoyed Pogo and reading on a wide range of topics. He remembered virtually everything he had ever read and could easily recall facts and statistics, disconcerting to those playing Trivial Pursuit on an opposing team, or enjoying arguing a topic with him. Despite having been raised in a household with no animals, he became a good dad to a succession of dogs who slept on his feet and cats who napped on his chest. He is currently missed by Nick and Xena.
Paul was the son of the late Rev. Doctor Herbert Van Wyk and Julia Walvoord Van Wyk and the brother of the late Bruce M. Van Wyk. He is survived by his wife of almost 30 years, Pamela Collins Van Wyk; his children and their spouses, Mark Paul Van Wyk and his wife, Linda, of Tampa, Fla., Laura Elizabeth Van Wyk and her husband, Bob Wyzykoski, of Tampa, Fla., and Pamela's children, daughter Kathryn Wilford and her husband, Jim Spangler, of Oak Park, and a son, Dr. Matt Jager and his fiancee, Monchie Blanco, of Peoria. He is also survived by one brother, Carl Van Wyk and his wife, Carol, of Tall Timbers, Md., his sister-in-law, Mikki Van Wyk of Potomac, Md., and his uncle, Raymond A. Walvoord and his wife, Lorraine, of Williamson, N.Y.; and his three grandchildren, Lily Van Wyk, Zitlaly Wilford Acosta and Janine Wilford Acosta.
Paul was active in Unitarian Universalist churches and fellowships including Unity Temple in Oak Park, Emerson Fellowship in the St. Louis area, The Montgomery, Ala., UU Fellowship, the Danville, Ind., UU Church and the Urbana church.
A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Urban-Champaign, 309 W. Green St., Urbana. Friends of Paul are invited to contribute their remembrances during the service. In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, contributions in Paul's memory may be made to the Lewy Body Dementia Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood Foundation or the Unitarian Universalists Service Committee. Condolences may be offered at renner-wikoffchapel.com.