Don Tyrrell Remembered for His Guidance of Cypress College Students

Don Tyrell advises a student
Retired Counselor Don Tyrrell is seen advising a student in this 2001 photograph. The pictures of former students and USC memorabilia in his office reveal his passions.

Cypress College is remembering Don Tyrrell, a 35-year employee who continued to support the campus following his retirement in 2005. Mr. Tyrrell, a resident of Westminster, died on August 22. He was 81.

Mr. Tyrrell was a counselor serving business majors during his entire tenure at Cypress College — and was frequently cited by alumni as their favorite college employee. He moved from his hometown of Osage, Iowa, where he had been a junior high school teacher and coach, to attend the University of Southern California in pursuit of his master’s degree.

He worked at Westminster High School as a counselor for five years after graduation from USC. He was hired at Cypress College in 1970 where he because one of the college’s most-recognized faculty.

“All of our employees are selected based on their commitment to support students throughout the course of their journey at Cypress College,” said President JoAnna Schilling, Ph.D. “Don Tyrrell represented that commitment perhaps more than any other member of our community.”

Don Tyrrell receives a standing ovation from his colleagues during a ceremony recognizing retiring employees in May 2005.

Though he was retired for 14 years, alumni regularly inquired about him — a sentiment reflected in a 2004 welcome letter to students written by then-Cypress College President Dr. Margie Lewis in which she referred to Mr. Tyrrell as “the consummate counselor.”

Those feelings were echoed by his dean when Mr. Tyrrell was selected for the prestigious National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development 1997 Excellence Award. “[The award] exemplifies the esteem in which he is held by his students and colleagues,” then-Counseling Dean William Parmenter noted in Mr. Tyrrell’s personnel file.

Another performance review noted: “Don articulates his philosophy of counseling for student success strongly, but with a sensitivity to others’ opinions. He leaves no doubt that his primary role is to assist individual students in enhancing their learning and success.”

Don Tyrrell

At Cypress College, Mr. Tyrrell served on numerous committees — including accreditation and assessments of both instructional quality and student services — and advisory boards. Following his retirement, he continued committee work, helping plan the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the college and serving annually for many years to select the alumnus of the year.

Mr. Tyrrell is survived by his wife Audrey, a retired teacher, and sons Scott and Mike. Services are pending.


  1. Don was a counselor who greeted all of his students by name whether on campus or in his office. He was the first to arrive in the morning. Students loved him. He encouraged all students and truly engaged each one. A quick wit with a smile always was his mantra.
    I was privileged to work with Don for many years. After he retired, many current and former students would inquire about Don. He was missed and will be missed.

    Dave Wassenaar
    Retired Business & CIS Instructor and Dean

  2. Words cannot even describe what a remarkable human being Don Tyrrell was. I met him his first day on campus and had the privilege of working for him not once but twice. I was so lucky. He was the best boss anyone could have dreamed of. He was sensitive, understanding, appreciative, bright, caring and quick witted, a great athlete and he did a great impression of Barney Fife. I was lucky enough to witness that! Each one of his students knew he cared about him or her and they could count on him . He treated people with respect and dignity and I never heard him say a negative word about anyone. He was the greatest.
    TIsh Ball, Cypress College, retired

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