Southern High School Alumni

Wymore, Nebraska (NE)

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Dr. Richard Cannon

Class of 1952

Dr. Richard Cannon is a retired physics professor at Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, a leader in the use of computers in Physics Education at the State and National levels. He was a physics professor at Southeast for 30 years. He was elected as the representative for the State of Missouri to the American Association of Physics Teachers; served as president of the Missouri Association of Physics Teachers, and was a board member of the Missouri Higher Education Committee for Physics Education. Dr. Cannon was an active member/participant in the American Association of Physics Teachers, National Science Teachers Association, and the Missouri Association of Physics Teachers. He was director of "Operation Physics" a national program for elementary teachers in subject matter. Summers he devoted time to training high school physics teachers in Advanced Placement Physics, through an Eisenhower grant. He also served as a consultant to Harrison Associates, an engineering firm, as an audio engineering expert. In addition, he has been a computer consultant to Southeast Missouri State University and various commercial companies. Dr. Cannon served on 10 university committees, including Faculty Senate.
In physics education, Dr. Cannon specialized in computer use in laboratories and multimedia presentations in teaching. He has authored papers on physics education in national publications and provided material to physics textbooks on magnetic fields. He yearly chaired meetings on computers in physics education and also presented papers at state and national physics meetings on the use of computers in teaching physics.
During his teaching career, Dr. Cannon taught over 5000 students physics; also serving as a physics advisor to many of these students who have gone on to become teachers, doctors, engineers, and most notably an astronaut - Dr. Linda Godwin, space shuttle astronaut and second in command at Houston's NASA space program.
Dr. Cannon was also elected to several scientific societies including Sigma Pi Sigma (Physics honor society), Sigma Xi (scientific research), and many education honor societies.
He was active in Boy Scouts as a committee person and as a counselor for merit badges in computers and atomic energy. He averaged awarding 25 Boy Scout badges per year for 10 years.
Born in Broken Bow Nebraska in 1934, Richard Cannon was a 5th generation Nebraskan. Educated K-3 grades in Broken Bow, the family moved to Peru Nebraska from 1942 to 1945. He graduated from Wymore High School in 1952. Richard Cannon started work for the Chicago-Burlington-and Quincy Railroad as a hostler helper with the intent to become a train engineer. A fast talking football scout convinced him to enroll at Peru State that fall, despite a high school football record of one win, 29 losses. At Peru he managed to play in 30 more games without one loss. In 1992 he was inducted, as a team member of Peru's 1953-54 championship team as the "best team of the last 100 years at Peru State."
The Army draft caught him in January of 1954 for two years. He was shipped to Okinawa, Japan where ninety percent of those two years he served as a demolition instructor and played on the Division football team. Returning to Colorado, where his parents had moved in 1953, he enrolled at Colorado State University as physics major. He received a teaching certificate in Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry from the University of Northern Colorado. In 1960 he began his teaching career at Fairbury High School, Fairbury, NE. After one year, he returned to Colorado to teach at Highland High School. Responding to a call in 1962 from Southeast Community College, then located in Fairbury, NE, he returned to teach math and physics. The next three summers were spent in Las Cruses NM completing a Masters degree in Mathematics. After four years at Southeast Community College, he and his family moved to Tucson, Arizona where he enrolled at the University of Arizona to complete a master’s degree in physics. He then returned to Greeley, Colorado to work on a doctorate in physics. He finished his doctorate in 1971 and began his college teaching career at Southeast Missouri State University, where after 30 years, he retired.
Richard married Dee in Greeley, Colorado in 1957 and they have celebrated over 55 years of marriage. They have two children, daughter Shelly Hale, who works for Southeast Missouri State University as a computer research person. She is married to Larry Hale who also works for Southeast State, as an accountant. They have three children Ryan, Carly and Jenna. A son, Doug Cannon who has been a radio personality in Springfield, MO and many other jobs, has a daughter Delaney.

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