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ACU Remembers: Dr. Michael Sadler

Dr. Michael Ervin Sadler, former Abilene Christian University faculty member, died June 20, 2021, in Abilene at age 73.

A memorial service will be Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Ministry Activity Center at University Church of Christ (733 E.N. 16th St., Abilene, Texas 79601), and visitation with his family will be Friday from 6-8 p.m. at the same location. Private family inurnment will take place at a later date at Littlefield Memorial Park in Littlefield, Texas.

Sadler was born May 18, 1948, in Amherst, Texas, and was raised on a cotton farm outside of Lubbock. He graduated from Whitharral (Texas) High School in 1966.

He earned a B.S. degree in engineering physics at Texas Tech University and a M.S. (1974) and Ph.D. (1977) in physics from Indiana University. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA, where he began his career as a research scientist in 1977.

He met Virginia Joyce Gustafson (’70) while doing graduate work in Indiana, and the couple wed June 9, 1973.

Sadler joined the Abilene Christian faculty in 1979 and taught for 40 years. He was a pioneering ACU science faculty member doing significant research, including roles as spokesman for major experiments at Los Alamos and Brookhaven national laboratories.

He spoke fluent Russian, which helped him excel on collaborative subatomic research with physicists in Russian and Eastern European nations. Sadler was a mentor who positively impacted the careers of ACU undergraduate students, who often accompanied him to international conferences to present research with their professor and other physicists. He received numerous research grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and was frequently published.

He received the American Physical Society’s Prize for Research in an Undergraduate Institution (1995), as well as two Fulbright Scholarships to conduct research in Russia (2002-03) and Bosnia (2010-11). He was named the Outstanding Teacher of the year for ACU’s College of Natural and Applied Sciences in 1988, and regularly hosted physicists from Russia who joined him in research on campus.

Sadler was a longtime member of the American Physical Society, including service as president of the Texas Section. He also was active in the Rotary Club of Abilene and University Church of Christ.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Ervin and Josephine (Hawkins) Sadler. Among survivors are his wife, Ginna, ACU professor emeritus of art and design; daughters Lela (Sadler ’98) Thorne and Laura (Sadler ’01) Tittsworth; six grandchildren; a brother, Stan Sadler; and a sister, Marla Bullock.

Donations in his memory can be made to the Christian Service Center or to Christian Homes and Family Services, both of Abilene.

– Ron Hadfield

June 25, 2022

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