Homecoming 2008: The old and the new in harmony

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The classes of ’60-’68 fondly remember College days...the campus they walked across then was in El Cerrito, California.  Many had never been to the Salem campus; but after Homecoming 2008, many alumni assured Deleen Wills, Director of Alumni Services, "The spirit is the same!"

A hundred and seventy-five alumni from all graduating years and walks of life gathered to remember their Corban/Western Baptist experiences, connect with old friends, and interact with the current thriving student body.  Though all alumni were invited, special recognition was given to the ’60-’68, ’78, ’88, and ’98 classes, and double honor to the classes of ’60-’68.

Besides Alumni Chapel on Friday, an Alumni Awards Luncheon highlighted three outstanding alumni.  The College honored Mike Patterson (’74) as Distinguished Alumni, Dr. Cassee Steed Terry (’00) as Distinguished Young Alumni, and Dr. Bryce Bernard (’82) for Outstanding Service.  The luncheon also included the President's State of the College address and a presentation by Corban stumni (a new name given for “students-soon-to-be-alumni”).  Other weekend events included receptions, campus tours, reunion dinners, and cheering for Warrior soccer players.

Homecoming Weekend involved a great cross-section of alumni, but the similarities between the generations of ’60-’68 and Corban’s current students resounded loud and clear.  What areas struck a chord in common between Western Baptist alumni and Corban stumni? 

Mission-Minded Spirit

The College’s mission in the early ’60s in El Cerrito remains the same today:  train and disciple Christians who will make a difference in the world for Jesus Christ.  The classes of ’60-’68 produced a strong group of ministers who started churches.  One 1963 alumnus said, “So many of those graduates were sacrificial and pioneering, living on little or no salary and going to far off places.”  He sees the evangelical roots of Corban still producing mission-minded Christians.  “There’s a deep spiritual dimension in these students—a love of service for the Lord.”

In his State of the College address on Saturday, President Hoff affirmed, “We want all graduates to consider their lives a ministry.”

“Outsider” Paul LaFreniere, who married alumna Ruthie Edwards LaFreniere (’67), captured the enthusiasm for Corban’s mission-minded dedication when he exclaimed, “This school produces people!  Strong people in Christ:  Bible-believing Christians who put their faith on the line.”

Devoted Faculty

One of the most treasured aspects of this College experience—by alumni and stumni alike—is the personal attention given to students by their professors. Professor Lowell Brown, who taught in ’58-’61, was described as an individual who “absolutely set a generation of us on fire!”

Professor Brown showed administrative techniques in action, taking students to visit successful churches in neighboring Californian cities.  President Hoff (’73) also applauded faculty investment in students:  at the Awards Luncheon he emphasized, “I owe my Bible knowledge to one man:  Dr. David Miller (’63).  He taught me Greek personally.”

Cassee Steed Terry (’00) advised stumni in Friday’s Chapel, “Don’t take Corban for granted.”  Faculty prepared her well for vet school, her academic endeavor, but they also encouraged her in volleyball and basketball and other school activities.  “Professors here know your name; they support you at games.”

Campus Life

A treasure of memories related to music and activities at the College came out of storage during Homecoming.  The piano solo “Precious Hiding Place” by Judy Edwards Schaub (’63) during Alumni Chapel spurred alumni to join in, singing from the audience.  Judy is one of the three musically talented sisters, known as the Edwards trio back in the days.  Paula Hayes Wenell (’67) talked about the days of cheerleading in long dresses.  And former Dean of Women Dorothy Ruhlman Moore (’60) laughed about all the pranks played on her in the dormitory.

Homecoming events included musicians from the current student body.  Ben King on saxophone and Brian Swearingen on keyboard delighted guests with jazz at Friday’s picnic outside Schimmel Hall.  Karen Wright (piano), MariAnne Nikkel (soprano), and John Livingston (piano) wowed the Saturday Luncheon crowd.

A bridge from El Cerrito, California, to Salem, Oregon, was built between alumni and stumni—with the expressions of fond memories.  Senior and ASB President David Collett spoke at the Awards Luncheon:  “It’s fun to get to meet alumni.  You share with me pranks you pulled and give me ideas for new pranks….”

Valuable Friendships

Collett also said, “I never had close Christian friends before I came here.  I treasure the relationships I’ve developed here.”

Some said very dear interconnections were made—after 45 years, WBBC friends are still on Christmas card mailing lists.  At a reception the lovely Dean of Women, Mrs. (Ruhlman) Moore, pronounced proudly, “Those are my girls!” (Even though they are now how old?)

“The Roommate Gang,” six ladies from the classes of the early ’60s, continued close friendships after their Western days:  all six lived with one or two from their clique at some point in their early adult life.  They moved on in careers and marriage, but they vacation together at least once a year, and their husbands have become great friends, too.  One of the six’s elementary student presented her with a special gift:  a perfume bottle with a deer taped precariously to the lid.  It’s special alright—it’s been hidden back and forth between them all over the West Coast.  But now, “because we’re getting older, no one can remember in whose house it’s hidden.”

So Corban’s Homecoming 2008 allowed the old and the new to play one song, bringing and making sweet memories.  Deleen Wills, Director of Alumni Services, said her greatest sense of satisfaction was hosting the classes of ’60-’68, many of who had not seen each other in over 40 years.  "To bring them back together as friends—and to bring them to campus...it's a big deal!"

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