* Former Elmhurst H.S. teacher Donald C Goss passed away on March 12, 2019. We will share more information about funeral services as they are available here: www.facebook.com/Waynedalenews/ * Updated 03/12/19
Don Goss knew what direction he wanted to focus his life on long before most people even know what their favorite ice cream is. Those of us who know “Mister Goss” (as I always called him) have seen him as a theater and art teacher at Elmhurst High School. Goss spent 56 years teaching there and impacted the lives of more than 10,000 students. But his desire for art and theater started well before his time at Elmhurst.
By the time Goss was in the third grade, he and his classmates were already creating theatrical productions during recess on the playground. Taking books they had read, they would then make costumes like angel wings from copper wire and cellophane and make curtains from bed sheets hung with paper clips in the corner of the classroom on a string. Writing their own scripts and building their own sets, they would then entertain the fourth grade as audience. The excitement for the arts grew as Goss attended Waynedale Elementary where he listened to his 4th grade teacher, Miss Minsel, describe her work with the Fort Wayne Civic Theater working on Peter Pan where Captain Hook is eaten by the crocodile. At Elmhurst High School, this flame was fueled as an actor in the drama productions like the Heavenly Angel in “Grease.”
After graduation from high school, his formal education continued at the Fort Wayne Art School, where he attended for two years and began his teaching career teaching a Saturday school there for elementary kids.
As a college junior, he transferred to IU Bloomington and completed his Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University in Art Education K-12. He then attended UCLA where he was awarded his Masters in Theatre Arts. He did not stop there. He attended John Herron School of Art sculpture program in Indianapolis casting brass pieces and Minneapolis School of Art and Design workshop for teachers. At the University of Wisconsin’s summer workshop, he surveyed architecture and visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s farm/studio at Taliesin. Back in Fort Wayne, Goss made a movie at Purdue and studied photography at St. Francis with Steve Perfect.
Don Goss was the first to teach computer art and animation in the state of Indiana. One of his students, Adam Green, has continued working as an animator for Disney in Burbank, California where he has animated segments of six Disney films including Frozen. He was awarded Teacher of the Year in Fort Wayne and was also runner-up for the State level of the award. He was presented with a Life-time Achievement Award from the University of St. Francis. Some of his students like Peter and David Turnley have gone on to be world-renowned photographers with David winning the Pulitzer Prize in Photo Journalism. Another student, Kurt Lawson has worked with Lady Gaga doing the promotion for her black perfume called Fame. Kurt also works as an independent animator doing the Spiderman movie jump from atop a skyscraper and landing on the ground with both feet and his hand on the ground.
Goss always told his students to “find the best of themselves and improve on that rather than be a clone of Mr. Goss.”
When asked if there was any place in the world that he had not been, but would love to see, Goss said, “I have been everywhere I wanted to be, especially Paris and the New York theatre.”
Goss was the first designer for the Boars Head Festival at the Plymouth Congregational Church over 40 years ago and the musical pageant still continues each year between Christmas and New Year’s Day. He has designed sets for many First Presbyterian Theater productions like Amahl and the Night Visitors and many Gilbert and Sullivan shows.
At home, his 450 varieties of Iris plants still give him much pride. Mr. Goss finds art to be “the creation of something that has personal value that can be shared with the rest of the world.” I believe Don Goss was describing himself and we thank him for sharing his life with us. Think of it like ice-cream on your favorite pie as being tasty…art is beautiful.