Dr. (Paul) Joe Wittmer was born to the late William and Anna Wittmer in 1937 in Montgomery, Indiana.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Sue Torr Wittmer, his three children, Diane Wittmer Thompson and Scott Wittmer from Melrose, Florida and David Wittmer from Bangor, Maine; and four grandchildren, Raechel, Haley, Colby and Torria, two great grandchildren, Daniel and Noah, and his beloved pet, Murphy. He is also survived by his sister, Rosa Graber and three brothers, Amos, Henry and Wilmer, all from Montgomery and Evansville, Indiana. His sister Mary Wagler preceded him in death.
He graduated with a baccalaureate from Indiana State University and a master's from Michigan State University. He taught in the Fort Wayne, Indiana public schools from 1960 to 1966. He then returned to Indiana State University and earned a Ph.D in Counseling Psychology in 1968.
He was a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Counseling at the University of Florida, Gainesville. He worked in the UF Counselor Education Department for 37 years, including being Department Chair for 18 years. He co-authored or authored 10 textbooks and published more than 75 articles in professional journals. His many professional awards include being named the second American recipient of an Honorary Professorship of Psychology at the Universidad del Valle, Cali Columbia, South America.
His national professional association, the American Counseling Association, awarded him both the International Distinguished Service Award and the National Professional Leadership Award for his work in counselor training. He was also honored by many different organizations including his alma mater, Indiana State University, which awarded him their Distinguished Alumni Award.
In 2004, Dr. Wittmer was named among the top twenty all time contributors to the counseling profession inLeaders and Legacies: Contributions to the Counseling Profession (2004) a book about distinguished leaders in the counseling profession. The authors profiled Dr. Wittmer in a chapter devoted specifically to him and his contributions to the counseling profession.
Dr. Wittmer was an internationally recognized expert in the training of counselors and other professionals in multicultural communication and violence prevention. He consulted, lectured, and conducted seminars and training workshops throughout the U.S. and in more than 30 different countries. He also consulted for the State Department, Pentagon, and Federal Aviation Administration among other agencies.
Dr. Wittmer is also the author ofThe Gentle People: Personal Reflections on Amish Life, last revised in 2010, which has become a best seller and is based on his cultural background. He was born and reared in the horse-and-buggy, Old Order Amish religion. He served as the Vice-Chair of the National Committee for Amish Religious Freedom for 37 years. Dr. Wittmer, along with three other members of this committee initiated, and won, the historical Supreme Court decision exempting the Amish from compulsory education laws.
He was an avid golfer and enjoyed writing both fiction and non-fiction. He loved all Gator sports, especially basketball.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Gainesville Pet Rescue (GvillePetRescue@aol.com), the American Heart Association or your favorite charity.