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Class of 63



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   Rev. Dr. Robert F.R. Peters '63 M.Div.


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Class Notes

Welcome to 1963's Class Notes page. Here you will find news from your classmates on what they've been doing since graduation.  Enjoy!

Moved? New job? Retired? Newly married? New grandchildren? Please submit your Class Notes to your Class Secretary or the Alumni Office by August 31, 2008, for publication in the next issue of Spectrum.



Notes from 2008


Bill Barr ’63 S.T.M. retired from the faculty of Lexington (KY) Theological Seminary, a Disciples of Christ seminary, in 1997, after 33 years of teaching there. He and wife Donna soon moved to Florida, and are very active in First Christian Church Melbourne, she in women’s ministry. Bill is chair of elders, teaches adult Christian education courses, and is active in social ministries. They enjoy visits with a son near Orlando, and a daughter and her family, and two grandchildren. While at Lexington, Bill published two books: The Church in the Movement of the Spirit (Eerdmans, 1994) and Constructive Christian Theology in the Worldwide Church (Eerdmans, 1997).

Hugh Blair ’63 B.D. retired almost two years ago and loves the relaxed schedule. He’s been doing some consulting work, a special love, in leadership development and strategic planning. He and his wife built a home in West Cape May, NJ twelve years ago, but spend February and March in Naples Park, FL. Hugh wanted two things in retirement: a boat and a dog. The boat is a 17 1/2 foot Bayliner and the dog is now a four-year-old standard Manchester Terrier. Bill also has a Yamaha electronic keyboard and is playing the piano again - after more than 40 years. His kids gave him a Wii. He reports bowling in his own family room and that he’s “doing great!”

John Buttrey ’63 B.D. retired with his wife, Mary, to Holland, MI after 39 years in Minnesota UCC congregations. He attends and teaches in Hope College’s senior learning program. Last sessions taught: “Civil Conversations Concerning Contemporary Christian Controversies.” Weekly, John tutors a third grader, does a couple mediations, and plays tennis. He enjoys his three Michigan grandkids and regularly visits his three in Minnesota. John writes letters to local papers on his favorite subjects - religion and politics.

Gary L. Davis ’63 M.Div. comments, “My call to ministry has been very fulfilling and meaningful.” Sandra and Gary left YDS for a two-point mission parish in North Dakota, five years later an inner city church in Michigan, and five years later a university-town parish in Wisconsin. Seven years later they moved back to Michigan for 24 years at the Bostwick Lake UCC. He is now retired and living next to a pond in private woods. Their three children and five grandchildren are within a 30-minute drive. After several years in corporate law Sandra changed focus and became the human resources director and planner for the West Michigan Area Agency on Aging, and has a small elder law practice on the side. Gary continues to be active on the West Michigan UCC Church and Ministry Committee, present biblical archaeology programs, and travel a few times a year to service oriented Elderhostels and the J.C. Campbell Folk School. He enjoys woodcarving, restoring a hundred-year-old wooden caboose, and writing a family history tracing the lines of fourteen generations of men and women in the context of the American history happening in each generation.

Rod Davis ’63 B.D. says, “having aged out of deaning, I continue to teach, maybe finally having learned how, if being given Samford’s ’08 teaching award means anything. Anyway, it's still serious fun. Retire? To what?”

David DeRevere M.Div.’63 retired in 2003 after 18 years as Executive Director of the International Conference of Police Chaplains. Prior to that he served 22 years as Senior Pastor of the First Church of Christ (Congregational) in Old Saybrook, CT. Dave says, "I love being paid to stay home!" He co-authored and edited the textbook, Law Enforcement Chaplaincy - What It Is and How To Do It (CC Thomas, 2005). He and Ellen just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They have two sons and four grandchildren. They volunteer together two evenings a week at their local hospital.


Russell Goldner ’63 B.D. is enjoying eleven grandchildren. One son has returned from Global Missions of the Disciples of Christ/UCC in Argentina to a pastorate. A daughter returned from China where her husband was a science teacher. Another was tenured in Medieval Sociology at Union College in Schenectady, NY. Russell recently was a facilitator for an Eli Lilly Grant on Excellence in Ministry which included a trip with the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Service in Egypt. He also enjoyed a trip to Russia and notes “a hearty thanks to those who give to the YDS annual fund.”

Larry LaVelle ’63 B.D. says he’s fully, contentedly, blissfully retired! He and wife Ginny live in Ames, IA in a lovely home close to two daughters and five grandchildren (ages 18, 16, 13, 3 and 9 months). Ginny’s dad remains active (at 98) as a civil engineer, woodcarver, and keeper-of-the-farm where she grew up near Chicago. Larry’s mother (at 90) still lives in her own apartment in my hometown of Eldora, IA. “Family life is rich indeed!”

After graduating from YDS, Claude Peters ’63 M.Div. became pastor of Zoar United Church of petersChrist, an old E&R church in inner city Buffalo. He became involved in the urban civil rights struggles, especially community organization efforts. During this time Claude married Carol Carpenter, whom he had met during his intern year in Rhodesia. Claude and Carol adopted Jonathan, unaware that Carol was pregnant with Jeffrey. They then moved to a small UCC in a blue-collar suburb of Dayton, OH where Claude began to realize that he was not happy or fulfilled being a pastor, and began to teach science at a mission school. At the end of 1969, the couple was commissioned as UCC missionaries and returned to Mt. Selinda in Rhodesia. Claude taught biology and general science, and Carol was a part-time nurse and director of the orphanage. After returning from Rhodesia, Carol worked nights in a coronary care unit to support the family, while Claude studied full-time for his M.Ed, and certification. Claude began teaching science at Naples High School in the Finger Lakes. They bought a house in Canandaigua, 20 miles to the north, and have lived there since. Claude and Carol both retired from their careers in 1999. Claude really enjoys retirement and they now have their first grandchild. Claude has written a family history and a memoir of growing up in Chicago in the 1940s.

He’d love to hear from any of you. His address and phone number is in the directory, and he lists his email address ascpeters9@rochester.rr.com.

Rob Peters ’63 M.Div. stays immersed in his woodshop when he is not volunteering with his UCC Conference or Association, compiling class notes, or keeping up with five grandchildren and a too-big yard. Directing a church capital campaign from time to time provides a happy diversion and an opportunity to experience new people and places. 

Bill Stroker ’63 B.D. recently retired from Drew University, having taught in the Religious Studies Department for 37 years. He and wife Mary Ann (McLellan) ’66 M.A.R. live in Madison, NJ. Katrina changed their plans to retire in her hometown of New Orleans. Daughter Katherine recently married, is a young lawyer and lives in Philadelphia. Bill and Mary Ann traveled to Australia, New Zealand and the Fiji Islands in 2007 and to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam in 2008. Bill continues to enjoy tennis and gardening.


Notes from 2007


After graduating from YDS Bill Barr ’63 Div., ’63 M.A., ’69 Ph.D. began teaching theology at the seminary from which he received his M.Div.,  Lexington Theological Seminary, in Lexington, Kentucky.  After several years, he published  two volumes: The Church in the Movement of the Spirit and Constructive Christian Theology in the Worldwide Church (Eerdmans).  He retired from LTS in 1997, after having taught for 33 years, his only teaching post!  Since then he and his wife have lived in Florida and been active in Disciples of Christ congregation, serving several boards and committees. They enjoy getting together with their son, a computer analyst with Verizon in Lake Mary, and their daughter and son-in-law and two little grandsons in Huntsville, AL.

 John Buttrey ’63 B.D. retired in 2002 after 39 years as a UCC pastor in Minnesota and then moved to Holland, MI. He has been married 47 years and has three daughters and five grandchildren. He mediates, takes and teaches senior classes, participates in PFLAG, tutors a second grader, helps immigrants, volunteers for HFH, participates in local Church and plays tennis.

Jim Dowd ’63 B.D. retired on June 30, 2003 completing forty years as a Presbyterian pastor in four churches in Ohio and Illinois.  Betty, his wife of 47 years, and he divide their year between a lakefront home in Michigan and an apartment in St. Louis.  He does some teaching and preaching and mentors a dynamic Commissioned Lay Pastor in St. Louis.  They thoroughly enjoy spending quality time with their three children and their spouses and their seven grandchildren, including two sets of twins.

Don Coleman ’63 M.Div. has been released from a federal prison. Last November, he was one of 22,000 people demonstrating with the School of the Americas Watch at Columbus, GA, trying to close the School of the Americas (now called the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation).  The school’s mission is to train military personnel from Latin American in techniques of torture and have supported very vicious dictators.  Coleman has a family in his congregation from Saq Ja (one of over 600 villages destroyed under President Rios Mont of Guatemala) whose family members were slaughtered, crops burned, and farm animals destroyed, thus putting a face on the atrocities for his congregation. Coleman was one of sixteen people who crossed the line onto the military base, was arrested for an act of civil disobedience (holy obedience) and served 60 days in a federal penitentiary.  Released in June, he’s been telling this story and invites others to join this year’s demonstration to be held at Columbus the weekend before Thanksgiving. He and his wife Ann Marie continue their ministry as co-senior ministers at University Church in Chicago, finding it an interesting and challenging place to be.  He writes, “I just celebrated my 70th birthday so retirement is not too far off.”

David Ehline ’63 B.D. is in Castle Rock, CO, and is working half-time as chaplain at a faith-based retirement community in Centennial, CO.  Half of his ministry was spent as a parish pastor in Pacifica, CA; Los Angeles, CA; and Omaha, NE.  Receiving the Master of Social Work degree enabled him to work as a clinical counselor and/or family service agency administrator for the other half of his career.  He has three children and five grandchildren, who live in San Francisco, CA; Omaha, NE and Saginaw, MI.  He has been married to Pat, a hospital nurse, for eight years, and they’ve enjoyed travel in Europe and throughout the U.S.  He enjoys spending his days off in his woodshop. He’s a member of an ELCA congregation, and occasionally does pulpit supply in congregations of the denomination. He invites classmates to let him know when visiting Colorado, “The welcome mat is always out!” He lists his contact information as David Ehline; 3469 Starflower Rd.; Castle Rock, CO 303-660-5293 padreandpatti@comcast.net.

After his B.D., Gale Holger Hansen ’63 B.D., ’64 hansenS.T.M. was ordained in the United Methodist Church and served as pastor of two Connecticut churches. He completed the S.T.M. degree before continuing in Switzerland, at the Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches. After five wonderful years he was elected to the staff of the National Council of Churches in N.Y.C. His ministry turned in 1970 when he accepted a call to return to Earlham as the Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving.  He was involved in higher education fundraising until retiring from Haverford in 2002.  His working years opened doors to other non-profit opportunities including work for the Lilly Endowment’s grant program and several polio eradication teams in Madagascar and India. His retirement didn’t last long as he became Manager of the Fund Development Division of The Rotary Foundation in Evanston, IL in 2003. He and his wife Anne sold their Swarthmore home of 31 years this summer and moved into a condo. He remains active with the Rotary Foundation, Swarthmore College and the Church. They enjoy visits with our 3 children and 6 grandchildren Katie (16), William (12), Rachel (14), Michael (12), Sam (9), and Emma (7) in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota.


After YDS, G. Russell Hatton ’63 S.T.M received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Minnesota where he served as a chaplain. He served as the first Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at the Toronto School of Theology and Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. Hatton’s career also included being President of Atlantic School of Theology, Halifax, Nova Scotia; Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island; Dean of Theology, Huron University College, London, Ontario; Bishop to the Canadian Forces; and Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Montreal. Although he retired in 2004, Russell continues to serve as a member of the Board of the Halifax/Dartmouth Bridge Commission. He and his wife Barbara have two daughters and four grandchildren. He lists his contact information as G. Russell Hatton; 222 - 59 Baker Drive; Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; B2W 0A6; hatton@eastlink.ca.


G. Curtis Jones, Jr. ’63 Div. has continued to support it the Rockefeller Fellowship that allowed him to attend YDS.  He retired in 1993 after more than 30 years as a Senior Executive in Federal Service, having served in a number of agencies/departments including the Dept. of Labor, Dept. of Energy, and the Dept. of the Interior.  After retiring, he became the President of the Division of Higher Education of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and from there he went to Phillips University in Enid, OK as President. He has been active in the local and national manifestations of the Christian Church wherever he has lived. He adds, “YDS added a lot of real value to my life in what was a very rewarding year.”



Mel Keiser ’63 B.D., ’64 S.T.M., ’64 Ph.D. and Beth Bassett Keiser ’62 Div., ’72 Ph.D. retired from Guilford College after 36 years of teaching, Beth in medieval and modern English literature and Mel in religious and interdisciplinary studies.  They moved from Greensboro to Black Mountain, NC (802 North Fork Rd., 28711) and have started Common Light. This ministry is a Quaker-based Meetingplace in a wooded, stream-bound site in Black Mountain that provides programs to cultivate the spiritual life integrated with intellect, imagination, and body, deepening personal wholeness and mending the world. (See www.commonlight.org.)  Their daughter and son, with two grandchildren each, and their partners, live within two hundred yards.  Mel has published two books on H. Richard Niebuhr (on his postcritical theological method and relational ethics), a collection of Stanley Hopper's essays on religion and literature (with Tony Stoneburner), selections of an early Quaker leader, Isaac Penington (with Rosemary Moore), and is currently writing a book in philosophical theology from a Quaker perspective.  Beth published a book on medieval courtly love and homophobia with Yale Press.  They are members of Swannanoa Valley Friends Meeting in Black Mountain. 


Jim Kenney ’63 Div. writes: “Having reached the age of constitutional senility (70), I am now technically retired from the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, but continue to sit as a recalled judge. That, along with part time teaching at St. Mary’s College of Maryland represents my ‘retirement.’ At the present time, I am also a member of the National Advisory Council of Berkeley at Yale which keeps me somewhat up to date on Happenings at YDS.”


Judy Kessinger ’63 B.D. makes her home in Mill Creek, WA and writes that she has “always loved going to school and is fortunate to live near a community college that includes a continuing education for students over 50, the Creative Retirement Institute (CRI).” She has been a student at CRI since 1993 and an instructor since 1998, leading discussion classes on current events, poetry and literature. “Lifelong learning is wonderful.” 

Speed Leas ’63 M.Div., ’64 S.T.M. stopped teaching about two years ago at Pacific School of Religion where he was the Visiting Professor of Congregational Leadership for five years. He still works, very much part time, for the Alban Institute where he keeps his hand in doing consulting with conflicted churches and synagogues. He is also in the process of finishing up a book on congregational conflict which will be published by Alban when he gets it done. On the home front, He stays connected with his ten grandchildren and plays golf in a seniors league. He lists his contact information as Speed Leas; Box 2250; Boulder Creek, CA 95006; 831-338-1024 sbl@att.net

For the past three years, Ted McConnell ’63 B.D., ’68 S.T.M. has been enrolled in graduate study at Concordia and has earned an M.A. and subsequently a Ph.D. in philosophy. “I am in regular contact with Bill Muehl ’56 M.A.H. and hope to visit him in Tucson this fall. The loss of his beloved mate, ‘Chips,’ is a sadness.”  Ted shared the news that his wife Mary is suffering from a life-threatening cancer. Their address is 106 East Farm Woods Lane, P.O. Box 464, Fort Ann, NY 12827.

After graduation, Larry T. McGehee ’63 B.D., ’64 M.A., ’69 Ph.D. was ordained into the higher education ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  He advanced through the ranks of administrative positions at a number of southern universities until in 1982, he became vice president and professor of religion at Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC. He had a very successful and satisfying career at Wofford, particularly enjoying the opportunity to teach an American Religious History seminar for seniors each spring. McGehee retired in August 2005, but retains a campus office, still does some teaching and continues to produce a weekly newspaper column, “Southern Seen.”  He received an honorary doctorate in humanities from Transylvania in 2004. He has been married since 1961 to Elizabeth Boden McGehee, and they have two wonderful daughters, Elizabeth, a copy editor for the Washington Post and Margaret (Molly) who will be a visiting assistant professor at Emory this coming year. Molly is married to Daniel Parson, an organic farmer operating a five-acre farm in Atlanta. McGehee admits to having paid a price for the vices of his youth with a number of health problems, but having been allotted “three score years and ten,” he counts every minute as a special gift of Grace.    


Gail Anderson McKinnis ’63 M.Div. notes that she completed four years as Administrator of the American Economic Summer Program and Minority Scholarship Program at Duke University. The program, hosted by Yale in 1980-82, moved to UC-Santa Barbara in September of 2007 and she began working half-time. She is focusing on increasing minority representation in the M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Economics at Duke.

Paul Meltzer ’63 B.D. retired in 2003 after 16 years as pastor of Millburn UCC in Northeast Illinois. His wife, Yvonne, also retired that year, and they have remained in the lakes region of northeast Illinois. Their joint genealogy research has shaped several trips, including a recent one to England. Retirement has also freed Paul for more writing and his gardening hobby. 


Edwin (Ed) Stock ’63 S.T.M. retired in December 2002 from First Presbyterian, Raleigh, NC after fourteen and a half years, and almost immediately began work, part-time, as Director of Church Relations for Union Theological Seminary and the Presbyterian School of Christian Education, Richmond, Va. He travels mainly in North Carolina ,but also to areas where he has contacts such as West Tennessee and North Mississippi, as well as to Austin, San Antonio, and Brenham, Texas. He enjoys meeting alumni/ae and keeping support of theological education before congregational sessions. Recently, he and his wife moved into a Presbyterian retirement community, Glenaire, Cary, NC. He enjoys reading, exercise and visiting grandchildren.

Ron Wesner ’63 B.D. has been having a fun life. He cannot seem to quit his third career, which has been for 25 years as an international tour director for Tauck World Discovery. Instead, then he has been enjoying a sort of semi-retired status and working only 17 weeks a year, in Great Britain and Australia during the appropriate seasons. Otherwise, he is living happily in Portland, OR and is an active as a layman at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. He shares, “For those who didn't hear or get it, I came out of the closet in '75. And that sort of precluded an active professional ministry. But it's been worth it. Glad for the movements of history in that regard and glad I could play a part. I was President of Integrity during the latter half of the 70's. Enjoying an active life.” He would welcome visitors in the Portland area.