Former Professor Passes Away at 65

Kyle Samec

The word “friend” came to mind when Mike Mahan, a former School of Visual Communication Design professor at Kent State, reflected on one of his former professors, associate professor Steven Timbrook.

“Steve had a unique way of genuinely connecting with students on a personal level,” Mahan said. “He was soft-spoken and patient, warm, caring and always smiling. I’ve always tried to show that same care to my students because I experienced the difference it can make.”

Steven Timbrook passed away on Dec. 26 at the Cleveland Clinic. He taught at Kent State for 30 years in the VCD department and was the interim director for three years. Before that, he served the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War as an artist at the Pentagon. He then received his bachelor’s degree from Denison University and master’s in fine arts and painting from the University of Michigan, according to his obituary.

Mahan first met Timbrook in 1998 while he was a student of his in a graphic design class. Mahan said he went with Timbrook on a Kent-Blossom summer design workshop the following year. It was during that time Mahan said he really became close with the former professor.

“Over several lunches around town, he shared invaluable wisdom about design, life, time and family,” said Mahan. “The things only a friend discusses with you when you’re going through a tough time.”

After this experience, Mahan said Timbrook called him at home to inform him about an internship opportunity he highly recommended to the aspiring design student. This ultimately sent Mahan on the path to become a design professional.

“I remember his exact words (were), ‘I think you’re perfect for this job and it pays kind of a lot for an internship. I’d probably jump on it if I were you.’ I felt that I not only had a new friend, but almost as importantly, a friend in the business,” Mahan said. “He gave me the opportunity and the nudge I needed. That internship opened new doors for me that I would have had a tough time opening on my own at that point”

The caring and mentoring nature of Timbrook left a lasting effect on Mahan. Showing students care and encouragement really resonates deeply, he said. According to Mahan, it should be something that other professors strive to do.

“I feel it’s the most important and rewarding thing I can do for students,” Mahan said. “I owe that and more to Professor Timbrook.”

Contact Kyle Samec at [email protected]