Mr. Michael Slattery, one of Bob Jones University’s best-loved art teachers, died on Oct. 29, 2013, from cancer.
Mr. Slattery began teaching at BJU in 1988 and continued as a faculty member for the next 25 years, teaching courses such as Art History and many of the studio art graduate classes.
Mr. Slattery’s battle began on July 13, 2012, when he was found unresponsive in his home. After being rushed to the hospital, he was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer, which had spread to his lungs and brain. Mr. Slattery patiently fought the disease for over a year and a half before the Lord took him home.
To his friends, Mr. Slattery was known as an easy-going man with a dry sense of humor. He encouraged his students in their artwork, helped his fellow faculty members create new curriculum, and was devoted to his family.
“He was fantastic as a teacher,” said Mr. Slattery’s brother-in-law and colleague, Mr. Christopher Zydowicz of the cinema department. “He knew the subject matter. One of the best things was he knew how to apply it to the students’ lives.”
Kirsten Hansen, a senior studio art major, was one of Mr. Slattery’s students. “He always had something nice to say about my art,” she said. “He was always encouraging us students that we had potential.”
As an artist, Mr. Slattery was very prolific. He had a unique technique of recreating photographs with ink-dots that was well known throughout the art community. He won many Best in Show awards from the competitions he entered as well as the Merit Award from the South Carolina Watermedia Society Annual Juried Exhibition and second place in the Spartanburg Artists’ Guild Annual Member Exhibition.
Mr. Slattery was much more than a instructor and an artist, however. “His family was huge to him,” said Mr. Jay Bopp, chairman of the Division of Art and Design. “His primary ministry was to his immediate family.” His wife, Lynda, also an artist, works at BJU Press. They have three children. The eldest, Marianne, is a freshman in the University, while the younger two, Jonathan and Rebekah, attend Bob Jones Academy.
“He was a very devoted father and husband,” said Mr. Kevin Isgett, another member of the art faculty. “He went everywhere with his wife and kids, and they had a very close, active family life.”
On his own time Mr. Slattery enjoyed collecting action figures. “Many times we would go to Target clearance sales,” Zydowicz said. “He would be looking for that one toy that would complete his collections.”
“He got us into collecting toys from our childhood as well,” Bopp said. “He had a streak where he was still a kid.”
Although Mr. Slattery didn’t talk about himself or his cancer very often, he had a strong personal testimony that was expressed by how much he cared for his fellow faculty and students. His testimony was only strengthened by his patient and optimistic attitude throughout the cancer treatment.
“He had such a positive outlook on it,” Zydowicz said. “He was very faithful to the Lord. I encourage people to look through his postings on the Mike Slattery Health Update Facebook page.”
A good teacher, talented artist, strong father, best friend and faithful servant of the Lord, Mr. Slattery is greatly missed by everyone who knew him.
“I love him, and I miss him,” Zydowicz said. “He was a great person, teacher and brother-in-law.”
“He was a great friend,” Bopp said. “I don’t know if I ever told him that. We need to tell our friends while they’re alive what they mean to us.”