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Class of 1966


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   Rev. Neil E. Topliffe ' 66 M.Div.

   10349 Tarpon Dr.

   Indianapolis, IN 46256






Class Notes

Welcome to 1966'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, 2010, for publication in the next issue of Spectrum.



2010 Notes


David Abbott ’66 B.D., ’68 S.T.M. retired from the Presbyterian (UPUSA) ministry after serving primarily intentional interim ministries. Currently he teaches at the Detroit area extension of Ashland Seminary in the Pastoral Counseling program. He also is in the Counseling Psychology program at the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology, Kingston, Jamaica. In addition David provides group co-supervision of emerging counseling professionals. He expanded his YDS Master's thesis into a book, SCENARIO Role Play: The Blees Method, {(2005, AuthorHouse), and have several other books on the topic underway. He is working as well with the Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative. David’s wife, Karen, retired in 2009 from the Detroit Public Library. They are active one-half marathoners in support of organizations that have helped their son whose daughter is a leukemia survivor, having been diagnosed at five months. Frank and Karen “enjoy the water, especially in a canoe I built, and will probably do more canoeing and kayaking when our bionic selves are both ‘retired’. These ‘facts’ bring me excitement, love, joy and hope.”

Jon Dalton ’66 B.D. and wife Bev live in Tallahassee, Florida, where Jon is Vice President for Student Affairs and Associate Professor of Higher Education at Florida State University. He currently directs the Hardee Center for Leadership and Ethics and co-edits the Journal of College and Character on the internet, www.collegevalues.org. Following YDS, Jon was a student affairs administrator and on the faculty at Iowa State University, Northern Illinois University and the University of Kentucky. The Daltons have two children, both of whom live in Chicago.

Following graduation, Frank Denton ’66 B.D. became an associate pastor for three years in Stratford, Connecticut before serving 12 years as Associate Executive Director of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport. During that time, he was part-time chaplain at the Bridgeport Correctional Center and director of the Council's Community Outside Opportunities Program (CO-OP). The latter program was established to provide a network of services for ex-offenders. Frank then moved on to become a United Methodist pastor for 15 years in Monroe, Connecticut, then 10 years at the Community Church in Pound Ridge, New York. “Each ministry has been a vital, meaningful, enriching experience.” Music, CROP Hunger Walks, and Habitat for Humanity have been important commitments in each place. Mark and his wife of 39 years, Charlene, have two adult children. Janet, is a Presbyterian clergyperson in Salem, Virginia, and Richard, is a tuba player with the Coast Guard Band. The Dentons retired in 2006 and now live in Gales Ferry, Connecticut, near their son and his family. Frank’s volunteer activities include keeping up with his grandson, Bible study, choir, mission trips, Habitat for Humanity and CROP Walks.


After two years in urban ministry following YDS graduation, Donald Frey ’66 B.D. returned to graduate school that ultimately led to a faculty position in economics at Wake Forest University, where he still is employed. Donald has served in positions such as department chair, president of the university senate, and coordinator of an urban studies minor. He and wife Linda have two sons. Andrew serves a post-doctoral student currently at McGill University, and Greg who recently finished his PhD and took a position at the World Bank. The Frey’s have one grandchild. With the significant presence in Winston-Salem the Moravian church the Freys have become Moravians. “I have served in a minor way on the Moravian-Episcopal Dialogue, which drafted a full communion agreement for the two denominations, now pending action by the churches. We have been involved with the rich Moravian musical heritage and, as I write, have just returned from a week at the Moravian Music Festival.” Donald’s latest book was just published by SUNY Press, America's Economic Moralists: A History of Rival Ethics and Economics. “Contrary to popular opinion, "economic morality" is not an oxymoron. Sadly, a school of moralists actually endorses self-interest above the common good, thus technically refuting the oxymoron idea. Fortunately, other moralists, including many religious thinkers, have supported an alternative ethic favoring much greater responsibility and human solidarity.”


Intertwining life in Hong Kong and in Florida is a continuing joy for Dorothy McMahon Kwok ’66 M.A.R. In Hong Kong, asylum seekers, maturing friendships with dear ones and educational enhancements in China weave a fascinating web of integrity, love and trust for her. In Florida substitute teaching, vibrant relationships with the elderly and interracial friendships provide trust, integrity and love.


Since 2006, Robert Loesch ’66 B.D. has been full-time Pastor of Zion's United Church of Christ, Sand Lake, New York, fifteen miles east of Albany and Troy. He is an active leader in Albany-Troy, and Sand Lake ecumenical and UCC organizations and programs. He is president of Mohawk Hudson Association of the UCC and vice-president of Troy Area United Ministries. He continues to be a regular free lance writer and speaker about environment, international peace, writing, and arts with a special interest in several Nobel Peace Prize laureates and local/regional history. Robert completed his long-time commitment as YDS '66 class agent for which the Class of ’66 is deeply grateful. The baton now is passed on to another classmate. Travel in 2009 included a enjoyable trip to the Amalfi coast of Italy, Bahamas, Key West, California and New England. Previous travel has covered forty nations and all of continental United States. He remains an active patron of the fine arts, drama, concerts, YMCA and community service. His career has included leadership in UCC churches and non-profit human service organizations in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He remains active with alumni activities from high school in New Jersey, Oberlin College (BA) in Ohio and Hartford Seminary, Connecticut , (MA and DMin), and life long learning. He enjoys visiting with his four children and three grandchildren in Massachusetts, Connecticut and southern California, as well as his twin brother, also a UCC clergyperson.

Mark Meckstroth ’66 M.Div. and family celebrated his father’s 100th birthday in the past year. Travel has included a 29 day cruise in the Baltic and Mediterranean. Mark stays active with supply preaching and playing bridge as well as visiting frequently with grandchildren.

Neil Topliffe ’66 M.Div. completed his stint as interim marketing director for Church Extension of Disciples of Christ in early 2009 and continued to the end of the year as communications minister at Geist Christian Church in Indianapolis. 2009 included a second granddaughter being born. After 39 years in Indianapolis on national staff and local pastorates, Neil and wife Sandy moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan where they will enjoy the winter fun of “real” winters and be surrounded by the beauty of lakes, trees, a daughter, son-in-law and three year old granddaughter. Texas will provide a late winter respite to visit the newest grandchild and family. Travel, family time and a change of pace are planned for the new year.


After being retired three years, Gordon Verplank ’66 B.D., accepted a part-time appointment at the local United Church of Canada congregation in White Rock, British Columbia. “Worship preparation and leadership, teaching, and administrative support keep me busy.” He also has time to care for grandchildren in Seattle and Atlanta. A Pilgrimage to Ireland in 2006 renewed his interest in Celtic Christianity. Gordon and his wife are looking forward to a pilgrimage in France in 2010.


Michael Vosler ’66 B.D. was ordained in June of 1967. He and wife Anne Nancy (Rose) have been married 45 years. She is Professor Emerita of Social Work at Washington University (retired June 2009). They are parents of one married daughter and two grandsons in San Anselmo, California. Michael served eight and one half years at Salem Community United Church of Christ, Norwood, Ohio and 14 years on the International Faculty of the Ecumenical Institute, Chicago, Illinois,.with assignments in Chicago, Hartford, Washington DC, India, Malaysia, Australia, and Nigeria. For 13 years he was at Epiphany United Church of Christ, St. Louis, Missouri where he still is a member. Since moving into semi-retirement in 2003, Michael has had two ankle surgeries, is a regular supply preacher, and serves on the Joint Neighborhood Ministry & Interfaith Partnership Boards. He also continues to provide general support of UCC urban churches, Christians for Justice Action, Jobs With Justice, St. Louis Workers¹ Rights Board, Instead of War; and the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans. For the past 20 plus years he’s been part of an Ecumenical Lectionary Group “and it’s still going strong!”

Two days prior to his 69th birthday John R Vogel, Jr. ’66 BD resigned his associate position at St. James United Methodist Church where he had a very exciting ministry for eight years. He was hired by the Rev. Emmanuel Cleaver II – also a U.S. congressman since 2005, who ended his tenure at the church in 2009 also. John noted that “it’s strange to be unemployed after 54 years, but I trust new opportunities will come.”


Kwok Nai Wang ‘66 B.D., for the past 43 years, has been focused on the renewal of the Church for the sake of God’s world. Further, he firmly believes it has to start with the local church. So for the past two and half years, he devoted his time to work in an international church in Hong Kong. Kwok has turned that congregation into a worshipping and learning community. He was also successful to build a ministerial group consisting of trustees, council members and pastors for that church. Now this leadership group is charged to work with the congregation and tries to turn it into a missional community.


Kwok is now trying to use the next two years to repeat the same experiment in a Chinese congregation. He is also intensifying to share his experience with local church ministers as well as his students at the Lutheran Theological Seminary.