J. LaVar & Helen Bateman

Dr. J. LaVar Bateman’s life was one of service to others. As a young boy, after his father died of typhoid fever, he worked hard to accept responsibility and live frugally to help his family. After graduating from Brigham Young University he served his country in the Navy during World War II, married his college sweetheart, Helen Mae Ream, and earned his PhD in Speech Communication at the University of Wisconsin. For 36 years he taught public speaking courses at BYU and coached winning debate teams. He served on the First Honors Program Council, chaired the University Forum Assemblies, and served as chair of the Communications Department. During his tenure at BYU, LaVar served as visiting professor at Michigan State University, the College of the Virgin Islands, and George Washington University in Maryland, and was an assistant to Senator Wallace Bennett in Washington DC. He also took a two-year leave to develop a speech program in Guam. He directed many BYU Travel Study tours to Europe and was the Director of Study Abroad in London. Dr. Bateman served three full time missions with his wife Helen to Sydney, Australia; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Honolulu, Hawaii for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were also hosting missionaries at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City. In his retirement years, Dr. Bateman continued to advocate for the speech program and was a guest at many speech showcases. During his career at BYU, Dr. Bateman dedicated monthly investments in a personal life insurance policy for the sole purpose of establishing an endowment that would make a difference in furthering the speech program’s aims. We gratefully give awards in his and his wife’s name, for they always worked as a team, to help us reflect on using our voices sincerely and powerfully to serve those in need.


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