There are college professors and then there are instructors like Scott Stratton, a passionate history teacher whose classes always filled up fast.

"He was very passionate about what he was teaching, you could tell he didn't just want to talk about it, he wanted students to understand it and connect it nowadays," Washington State University student Evan Weber said.

Weber was one of Stratton's students and saw him Tuesday. Now he's stunned by his professor's passing.

"It's shocking. You don't really expect it to happen, it's still sinking in right now," he said.

Stratton's walk with his dog Tuesday night took a tragic turn when the dog came home and Stratton didn't. His body was found in the Sunnyside Park pond Wednesday morning. Pullman Police say there are no signs of foul play and that his death may have been accidental.

But Scott Stratton isn't defined by his death, but by his life and teaching.

"Always engaging, he was somebody that never sat behind the podium, he was always someone that was walking up and down the classroom, was always asking questions," Weber said.

Dr. Ray Sun, chair of WSU's history department, called Stratton a utility infielder, always willing to help out in a pinch.

"He was an all around a good and helpful person in the department and you need someone like that in work," Sun said.

Stratton grew up in Pullman. He received his PhD from Arizona State University and came back to teach at WSU in 2009.

"Really helpful guy who cared about teaching and you can't just buy that off the shelf, we'll miss that," Sun said.

Stratton was a history buff who, in a sense, made history at WSU, as an energetic professor who inspired others to fall in love with history, like he did.

Sun said Stratton wasn't married and didn't have any kids. He is survived by his father, a retired WSU history professor who still teaches a few classes at the university each year.