Bays, Daniel Henry of Sunset Hills, Missouri, passed away at the age of 77 after a hard-fought battle with Parkinson's disease. Dan was born in St. Joseph, Michigan in 1942 to parents Henry & Barbara Bays. He graduated valedictorian of St. Joseph High School and attended Stanford University, where he joined the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and studied in France for a year before receiving his BA in History in 1964. He earned a master's in Far Eastern Studies in 1967 and a PhD in Asian History in 1971, both from the University of Michigan. In 1967, Dan married Janice Gardner, his loving wife of 51 years. Prior to completing his studies, Dan was accepted into the US State Department, though he resigned before accepting his post due to his refusal to publicly defend what he privately abhorred regarding US foreign policy at the time and his desire to become a history professor.
Immediately upon receiving his PhD, Dan took a position teaching in the History Department at the University of Kansas. During his tenure there, he directed the Center for East Asian Studies and was twice elected chair of the History Department. He also spent substantial time overseas, including a National Endowment for the Humanities funded research project for the British Museum in London in 1973, and Fulbright scholarships to Taiwan in 1977 and 1984, as well as various extended teaching trips to China. Dan returned to Michigan in 2000, joining the History Department of Calvin College, where he was bestowed with the prestigious Spoelhof Chair and led the Hubers Asian Studies Program, establishing the Asian studies minor.
Renowned around the world as the preeminent expert on Christianity in China, Dan authored/edited six books and wrote many scholarly articles which were published throughout his career. He also frequently reviewed submissions for respected academic publications, including the Harvard University Press, Yale University Press, and Oxford University Press. He spoke at international academic conferences and has directed major research projects funded by the Henry Luce Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts.
Dr. Bays was beloved by his students. At Calvin College, he established the Bays-Herzberg China Semester Abroad Scholarship, which is intended to strengthen students' passions for and understanding of Chinese culture and language. Dan was especially fluent in speaking and reading Mandarin Chinese, as well as Japanese and French.
Incredibly devoted to his family, Dan was humble, loving and kind. He turned his life over to the Lord in 1973. He is survived by his beloved wife Janny, his brother Tim (wife Barbara), as well as his daughter Kristen (husband Chris) Hite and son Justin (wife Sarah). He was especially proud of granddaughters, Georgia Hite and Selma Bays. He is also survived by precious friends the Palenskes, the Mawhinneys, the Nykamp family, Steve Zegura, and Art Sciaroni.
Ever faithful to his true love and his God, he did have another love: the game of golf. Dan achieved a seven handicap index while a member of Lawrence Country Club, and could often be seen practicing his swing from his chair in his later days. Importantly, his deep faith did not preclude a cutting wit, nor a fine appreciation for irreverent humor and a good cigar. He was and will always be Very Truly Loved.
In honor of Dr. Bays' passion for Chinese studies, memorials are preferred to the Bays-Herzberg China Semester Abroad Scholarship, calvin.edu/go/give
. Gifts can be specified to the Bays-Herzberg China Semester Abroad Scholarship, with an option to designate in memorial of Dan.
Friends and family are welcome to celebrate Dan's life on Sunday May 19 at the Kutis Funeral Home, 10151 Gravois Road, St. Louis, MO. 63123. Visitation to be held at 2 PM with a service to be held at 3 PM.
Published by Lawrence Journal-World on May 15, 2019.