In Memoriam, Fall/Winter 2022
ESTHER BENNETT ’55 died June 4, 2022, at the age of 90. Born to American parents homesteading near Rainier, Alberta, Canada, Esther credited prayer for getting her through Seattle Pacific College, where she graduated with a degree in physical education. She later earned a doctorate in Bible from Pensacola Bible Institute. Esther was a teacher in Washington while also teaching Bible studies and hosting home groups. At age 40, she answered God’s call to travel the world and tell his children that he loved them. That 15-month trip showed her the need to encourage missionaries and Christian leaders overseas. She taught school for two more years, and then visited over 20 nations during annual trips to teach and encourage missionaries. In 1979, Esther connected with Sharon Pryor, who became a partner in the ministry for the next 40 years as Esther again flew around the world to teach, encourage, and give to missionaries. Esther’s base of operations for 10 years was Victoria, Canada, where she taught at an interdenominational Bible school and helped in local churches. In 1988, Esther and Sharon relocated the ministry to Sweet Home, Oregon. International travel continued, but Esther also helped spearhead a shelter for homeless and abused women and children. Her last international-ministry trip was in 2012. While in Oregon, Esther also provided guidance to Crawfordsville Community Church. Finally, at age 75, Esther retired from weekly church ministry and moved to Boise, Idaho, where she offered spiritual care in her niece’s senior-living facilities. She taught Bible multiple times a week until her mid-80s. Esther is survived by her sister, many nieces and nephews and their extended families, and the family of God in many nations.
ESTHER SORBY BENNETT ’53 died May 27, 2022, at the age of 91. A longtime Camano Island resident, as well as a retired educator and librarian for the Arlington (Washington) School District, Esther was born in Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota, and moved to Seattle with her family in 1943. The fifth of nine children, she graduated from Cleveland High School in Seattle and then attended Seattle Pacific College and the University of Washington before receiving her bachelor’s degree in education from UW in 1953. Esther was an elementary school teacher in Arlington and married fellow Arlington teacher, A.D. Bennett, in 1956. She went on to study library science in the 1960s and helped establish a library for Arlington elementary students. She remained elementary librarian until her retirement in 1985. Preceding her in death were her husband; a stepson, and six of her siblings. She is survived by a daughter, son, stepson, sister, brother, and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.
DONNA BLOSSER ’74 died March 3, 2022, at the age of 70. Donna taught physical education in both the private and public sectors. She was also briefly part of the University of Washington football program, serving as a trainer. After a battle with cancer, she is now at peace in heaven with her Lord Jesus Christ. Donna is survived by brothers Frank and Steve, nieces, nephews, and cousins.
ELLIS CASSON ’62 died June 7, 2022, at the age of 90. Born in New York City, Ellis, his mother, and two siblings moved west in the 1940s, finally settling in Vanport, Oregon. Although Pentecostal herself, his mother allowed her children to join Bethel A.M.E. Church, where Ellis joined their youth program, participating in the church youth choir. As a teen, he worked as an elevator operator in downtown Portland’s Roosevelt Hotel, where he met Sammy Davis Jr. and Tony Bennett. Ellis graduated from Jefferson High School in Portland, Oregon, and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, serving in the Korean War. After his discharge, he answered the call to ministry and was ordained in 1953. As a young pastor, Ellis participated in the civil rights movement. NAACP Executive Director Roy Wilkins and Mississippi Regional Director Medgar Evers, named him as the first Western Regional director of the NAACP. Ellis also met and married Betty Stafford in 1955. They had four children and moved from Seattle, Washington, to churches in Montana and California. Ellis returned to the Pacific Northwest to attend Seattle Pacific College, graduating with a bachelor of divinity degree. He also earned a certificate from Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and received two honorary doctoral degrees. Ellis’ career path took him through Portland, Oregon, public schools, the U.S. Office of Civil Rights, and the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church. He served as an ordained minister in the A.M.E. church for 48 years. He officially retired as the presiding elder of the Pacific Northwest Conference in 2001. Along with his love of the church, Ellis’ greatest passion was his family. He also enjoyed Broadway musicals, Johnny Mathis, old Westerns, and politics. He enjoyed family vacations to Jamaica, Hawaii, Barbados, Victoria B.C., and Washington D.C. Ellis is survived by three daughters and a son, four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and many extended family members.
RUTH KRISTERSON CHRISTENSEN ’47 died Sept. 18, 2021, at the age of 96. Born raised in Seattle, Ruth graduated from Seattle Pacific College and the Nurses Training School of the University of Washington, earning a registered nurse and BS degrees. She studied at the Bible Institute at North Park College in preparation for missionary work and was dedicated to Christian service of the Evangelical Mission Covenant Church of America in June 1951. Ruth served as a missionary in Japan from 1951 to 1967, doing evangelistic work, working with nurses through the Nurses Christian Fellowship, and teaching at the Covenant Bible Institute. In 1976, she married Ernie Christensen, a fellow missionary to Japan who had served there until 1971. In 1979, the couple returned to Japan and served together until retiring in 1982. Ruth was the head of the board for Child Evangelism for Thurston and Mason Counties (Washington) in her 80s. She led a Bible study in her retirement community, Vista Village in Lacey, Washington, where she was president of the board and hosted a Friday morning coffee fellowship at the clubhouse. Predeceased by her husband, Ernie, Ruth is survived by three children and 13 grandchildren.
PHILIP CLEMENT ’54 died May 30, 2022, at the age of 94. Born and raised in Ransomville, New York, Phil served in the U.S. Army in post-war Japan. He attended Seattle Pacific College where he met and married BEVERLY SPRAGUE CLEMENT ’54 in 1952. He attended the University of Washington Dental School and practiced family dentistry in Lake City, Washington, for 47 years. Philip is survived by Beverly, his wife of 70 years, children, DEBBY CLEMENT MORK ’75, BRUCE CLEMENT ’81, and DAVE CLEMENT ’88, nine grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, as well as two sisters, including RUTH CLEMENT HART ’56.
KIMBERLY CONRAD ’78 died March 22, 2022, at the age of 65. After graduating from SPU, Kimberly taught high school math for several years in Tumwater, Washington. She then obtained her master’s in computer science from Colorado State University before joining Hewlett-Packard. She worked for HP in Boise, Idaho; Bergamo, Italy; and Vancouver, Washington. In 2005, her severe rheumatoid arthritis forced her to retire. She then built her dream house on the beach in Westport, Washington, and lived there with her mother, Maxine, until her passing. Kim is survived by her mother, a brother and sister, eight nephews, a niece, and a grandniece and grandnephew.
LEONARD ENSIGN ’51 died July 5, 2022, at age of 93. Leonard was a retired anesthetist with his MD from McGill University. He was married to MARTA “MARTI” OAKS ENSIGN ’52, and they were parents of NICOLE ENSIGN TAYLOR ’80 and SCOTT ENSIGN ’92.
DONALD “DON” GOERTZEN ’53 died July 9, 2022, at the age of 91. His wife of 68 years, Irma, by his side. Don was born in Munich, North Dakota, and spent most of his childhood in Salem, Oregon. He attended Seattle Pacific College on basketball and baseball scholarships and remained an avid SPU sports fan for the rest of his life. He was a women’s and men’s basketball season ticket holder for over 50 years. Don retired from the Seattle Public Schools, where he was a beloved and respected teacher and principal. Former students considered him as a tough, yet caring, mentor and educator. Don was also a marathon runner and enjoyed golfing, salmon fishing, and spending time with his family. Don was predeceased by his and Irma’s daughter, Kathi, and he is survived by Irma, daughters Pegge, Sara, and Krista, a sister and a brother, and 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
DAVID GRANT ’67 died Feb. 25, 2022, at the age of 78. David was born in La Grande, Oregon, and spent his first nine years in Elgin, Oregon. While still a child, he trusted Jesus Christ as his personal savior. He and his family moved to Scappoose, where David finished grade school and high school. He taught Sunday school and was in leadership of the school Youth for Christ Club. Track and cross-country became a big part of his life leading him to Seattle Pacific College before he attended Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in preparation for ministry. He joined the staff at First Baptist Church of Marysville, Washington, in May 1970 as youth/associate pastor, and he married CAROL EASTON ’68 on Aug. 15, 1970. He became the church’s senior pastor in February 1973. In 1984, he received his doctorate of ministries in servant-style leadership from the California Graduate School of Theology. He served there until October 1989. In June 1992 after three-year sabbatical, he joined the staff of Northshore Christian Church in Everett, Washington. Affectionately known as “Pastor Dave,” David leveraged his life experiences for encouragement and care for others as pastor, counselor, life coach. He always let Jesus shine through him. David retired from Northshore Christian Church in 2015 and served as part-time discipleship pastor for Jesus Online Ministries until April 2018, helping people take their next faith step. In June 2017, Dave was diagnosed with frontotemporal deterioration and lost his ability to speak, write, and balance himself as the disease progressed. As the Apostle Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 4:16: “The outward man is perishing, but the inner man is renewed day by day.” David is survived by his wife of 51 years, Carol, children AMY GRANT SCHERRER ’95, Matthew, and Kristin, nine grandchildren, brothers Ron and J., and many extended family members.
JAMES HEDGES ’60 died July 25, 2022, at the age of 82. Per 2002 directory, he earned an MA from UW and a PhD from University of California-Riverside. He was professor and chair of the English Department at Azusa Pacific University. He was married to GWEN MAMATH HEDGES ’61, and they had three sons, James Jr., David, and Mark.
DAVID “DAVE” HULLIN ’67 died July 26, 2022, at the age of 80. Born and raised in Seattle, Dave had a lifelong ministry with the United Methodist Church and was a tireless coach, organizer, and counselor, exemplifying a life of service to others. After serving churches in Maryland and Virginia, he returned to Seattle and served as a pastor at Bryn Mawr and Riverton Park UMCs, a chaplain at Wesley Homes in Des Moines, and pastor at Highland Park United Methodist Church until his retirement. Dave remained an active volunteer at the Mercer Island United Methodist Church until the end of this life. In 1989, he married Judith Anne Borseth, a childhood friend from his elementary school. Dave was an avid sportsman who loved skiing, camping, baseball, basketball, volleyball, and golf. On vacation, he would visit every post office he could, to build his prodigious stamp collection. After a stroke reduced his mobility and speech in later years, he found new ways to express himself through visual arts, sketching scenes from daily. Preceded in death by two brothers, Dave is survived by Judith, his wife of 33 years, two children from a first marriage, a stepdaughter, and two grandchildren.
KENNETH JONES ’51 died Feb. 27, 2022, at the age of 95. Born in Corralitos, California, Ken graduated from Watson High School in 1941, and he entered the Army Air Force and served in Germany just after the end of World War II. He then attended Pasadena Nazarene College and Los Angeles Pacific College before coming to Seattle Pacific College, where he met and later married LOIS MCDOLE ’51 in 1952. After graduating, they moved to California, where Ken taught science for the Cupertino School District. He earned a master’s degree from San Jose State in 1957. Ken was part of the team that helped design the science classrooms for a new Kennedy Jr. High School. He taught there for 37 years before retiring in 1987. He taught marine biology for the National Science Foundation one summer in the late 1960s. His interests and hobbies were broad and varied with his relationship with God and church being primary, and love of fishing for trout high on the list. In 1993, Lois, his wife of 41 years, died. After her death, he took a trip to Africa as a short-term missionary to help rebuild and repair a hospital that had been damaged in a tribal war, and he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. In 1996, he reconnected with widowed friend and former classmate, MABLE LUND HASLAM ’51, and they married. The couple enjoyed an active life of travel, music, and family for 25 years, before Mabel passed away Dec. 8, 2021. Ken is survived by a son and daughter, two stepdaughters, 13 grandchildren, many great-grandchildren, and many more extended family members and friends.
GERALD “GERRY” KERNS MA ’72 died Aug. 15, 2022, at the age of 88. Born and raised in Seattle, Gerry attended Carlton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and graduated from Seattle University in 1956. He then joined the U.S. Navy, serving as a public information yeoman on an aircraft carrier. He was honorably discharged in 1958. Also in 1958, Gerry began working in Wenatchee, Washington, as a child welfare caseworker for the Department of Social and Health Services. He went on to be a chief probation officer for Okanogan-Ferry Juvenile Court and King County Juvenile Court in Seattle. From 1962 to 1964, he was a counselor and program supervisor at Morning Star Boys Ranch in Spokane, Washington, where he worked with at-risk youth. Gerry married Sally Duncan in 1966, and they had two daughters and a son. The couple divorced in 1987. In 1967, Gerry joined Catholic Community Services where he spent over 11 years focusing on counseling, adoption, and foster care. He finished out his “corporate” journey at the Department of Social and Health Services, Children and Family, King County, retiring in 2003. During retirement, Gerry enjoyed serving as a paraprofessional educator. Gerry also enjoyed traveling, both across the U.S. by train and overseas to places such as Naples, Italy. He loved visiting Hawaii. Throughout his long life, Gerry dabbled in acting, modeling, singing, and on-camera talent. He had a minor role in the 1992 movie, Crazy in Love, starring Holly Hunter. Gerry is survived by his partner of 23 years, Eric Miller; a brother; two daughters and a son, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
FRED LAWRENCE ’49 died Feb. 16, 2022, at the age of 100. Fred was raised in Kent, Washington, and served in the Marines in the South Pacific during World War II. After the war in 1946, he married Helen Thomas, and they raised five children. After graduating from Seattle Pacific College, Fred graduated from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1954 and pastored churches in West Conshohochen, Pennsylvania, Pullman, Washington, Lake Oswego, Oregon, and in Tigard, Oregon. After Helen’s death, he married Sherrill McCroskey in 1985. Fred was preceded in death by his wives, two sisters, a son, and a great-grandchild. He is survived by three sons and daughter LYNETTE LAWRENCE JACKSON ’70, six grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren.
ROBERT MCKEOWN ’64 died Nov. 11, 2021, at the age of 79. Robert was a longtime active member of St. John’s United Methodist Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He worked there on staff following his retirement as director of The Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque. He was an avid traveler and photographer, and he enjoyed being a founding owner of Quarter Celtic Brewpub with his two sons. He is survived by his wife, DONNA HULBERT MCKEOWN ’64, their two sons, and five grandchildren.
ESTHER WESTBY MELCHER ’64 died May 1, 2022, at the age of 80. Born in Chicago, Illinois, to Norwegian parents, Easter’s family moved to Seattle after the death of her father. Esther grew up in Seattle and graduated from Lincoln High School. After graduating from Seattle Pacific College, she attended the University of Washington, received a degree in nursing and became a registered nurse. Esther’s love of medicine and talent resulted in jobs at hospitals, clinics, and schools in Seattle. In 1968, while visiting a friend in Alaska, she met Jerry Melcher while waiting for a ferry. After a two-year long-distance courtship, they married on Esther’s birthday, in Seattle. During their 30 years in Alaska, Esther worked as a pediatric nurse, Jerry practiced law, and they raised two children. Esther loved Alaska and extensively traveled throughout the state. In 2000, Esther and Jerry moved to Bellingham, Washington, to be near their children and grandchildren. Esther’s passion for travel and the outdoors continued for most of the next 20 years. Rivers, waterfalls, mountains, and wildlife were her passion. She visited Niagara Falls, Victoria Falls, and Iguazu Falls in New York, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the border between Brazil and Argentina (respectively). She and her husband also visited Denali, Yellowstone, and Glacier National parks and the animal parks of South Africa. She visited Norway, as well, to visit family. Her other passions included reading, crossword puzzles, and hearing her husband play the piano and sing. She was a member of the Bellingham Bookies for many years, and she accompanied Jerry and the Mt. Baker Toppers barbershop chorus to New Zealand and Finland. Esther will be remembered for her sense of humor, compassion, and enduring strength. Esther is survived by Jerry, her husband of 51 years, daughter Maureen and son Trenton, a brother, and many extended family members in Norway and the U.S.
LOIS MOGREN ’67 died May 10, 2022, at the age of 98. Born in St. Paul, Lois placed her faith and trust in her Savior Jesus Christ at a young age. She graduated from Humboldt High School and attended Macalester College in St. Paul from 1941 to 1943, teaching piano lessons to pay for tuition. In 1944, she married Ken Mogren while he was in the U.S. the Army Air Force. Lois then joined her husband for many stateside military assignments until Boeing moved them to the Seattle area in 1947. The couple had a daughter and two sons, and once their children were all in school, Lois returned to college at Seattle Pacific College, earning a teaching degree. She then taught elementary grades for 18 years in the Highline School District (Boulevard Park, Normandy Park, and Marvista Elementary Schools), retiring in 1983. After retirement, she and Ken moved to Federal Way. The couple enjoyed traveling to Europe, throughout North America, and to Israel. Lois was a generous host at both their home and at a family beach cabin. She also enjoyed gardening, sewing, knitting, piano playing, stamp collecting, and doll collecting. She used computer skills to do extensive research on family history, which led her to connect with Ken’s distant relatives in Sweden. Together, the couple studied the Swedish language, participated in activities at the Swedish Club, and took several trips to Sweden. Throughout her life, Lois she participated in church ministries, with a special interest in supporting the work of missionaries. In later years, Lois was very involved in the lives of her grandchildren, attending graduations, Eagle Scout awards, recitals, and weddings. Lois is survived by Ken, her husband of 77 years, a daughter and two sons, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
ALMA OSTRANDER NEWSOME ’60 died March 24, 2022, at the age of 86. She is survived by her husband, DONALD NEWSOME ’57, and their children, Patty and Joe.
SANDRA “SANDY” QUANTRELL SCHOENHALS ’67 died Aug. 10, 2022, at the age of 77. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Sandy was just 6 or 7 years old when she asked her parents if she could attend church. They agreed, and she made her way to a church with a big cross in front that read “Jesus Saves.” (She would discover as an adult that this was the church where many of her husband’s extended family had attended.) Sandy would say that the Lord was holding her hand on those early treks to church, and she walked with Jesus all her life. After graduating from Hazel Park High School in Ferndale, Michigan, Sandy met a summer pastoral intern, ROGER SCHOENHALS ’61, at Ferndale Free Methodist Church. They married in 1964. As a young professor’s wife, Sandy attended Greenville College and later graduated from Seattle Pacific College. Sandy and Roger partnered in life and ministry for nearly 58 years. In 1980, now with four young children, Sandy and Roger moved to Seattle, where she worked as a confidential secretary at Shoreline Community College, caring for co-workers and students alike over her 21-year career. She especially enjoyed working in Student Services and supporting recent immigrants who were navigating the community college system. In retirement, Sandy lived in Leavenworth, Washington, enjoying the natural environment, deep friendship with her Bible study group, and endless hospitality for those seeking respite among the mountains. She and Roger also traveled to Bolivia, Alaska, and Panama. After a stint in Wenatchee, Washington, Sandy and Roger moved to the Warm Beach Senior Community until Lewy Body Dementia necessitated Sandy’s move to Fieldstone Memory Care in Marysville in June 2020. Sandy is survived by her devoted husband, Roger; a son and three daughters, including SARA SCHOENHALS MARTINEZ ’95; four grandchildren; two brothers; and many extended family members and friends.
RUBY MADDOX SHUPE ’48 died June 9, 2022, at the age of 97. One of 11 children, Ruby was born in Sentinel, Oklahoma. Her family farmed cotton during the Great Depression, and Ruby would say many years later that she had no desire to ever pick cotton ever again and was grateful that Eli Whitney had come up with a machine to take over the job. After graduating from Sentinel High School, Ruby attended Seattle Pacific College. She then moved to Greeley, Colorado, where she graduated with a teaching degree from Colorado State College of Education. While there, she met Ivan “Jack” Shupe, and they married on August 27, 1950. Ruby was a talented singer with a beautiful voice, and she taught as a music teacher at school in LaSalle, Colorado, for five years before staying home to raise her and Jack’s two sons. Throughout her life, church and her faith were always important to her. As a child, she attended the Zion Chapel, a Free Methodist church in Oklahoma. As an adult, she and her husband were founding members of Greeley Wesleyan Church, now Generations, which they made their permanent church home. Ruby taught Sunday school, directed and participated in choir for 31 years, and she hosted, taught, and participated in many Bible studies, including one in her home for many years. Ruby was an excellent cook and hostess; she and Jack enjoyed travelling around the U.S. and internationally. Even as her health declined during her final years, Ruby remained quick-witted and joyful, welcoming visitors, and singing hymns in the living room. She looked forward to eternity in heaven with Jesus. Preceded in death by all 10 of her siblings and a great-granddaughter, Ruby is survived by Jack, her husband of 72 years, their two sons, seven grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews, and other extended family members.
GORDON TORSTENBO ’58 died July 22, 2022, at the age of 85. Gordon was born in Seattle to Norwegian immigrants and raised in the Ballard neighborhood. After graduating from King’s High School, he attended Seattle Pacific College, where he obtained a dual degree in history and education. He went on to seminary and pastored Hamlet Church of the Nazarene in Amarillo, Texas, before returning to Washington to teach and coach in the Battle Ground School District. After he left the teaching profession, he became a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., but most of his professional career was spent as a successful business owner in the plumbing supply industry. He also taught business classes at Portland State University and University of Portland. While living in the Vancouver, Washington, area, Gordon was a member of Columbia Presbyterian Church and Vancouver First Church of God. He married Pat in 1995, and they built a home in Washougal, Washington, where they lived for the past 18 years. Gordon retired in 2008, but remained involved in the Royal Rosarians, and served on neighborhood boards, church boards, and the board at Kona Billfisher in Hawaii. Gordon was outgoing, friendly, and a highly capable leader. He also played the trumpet, and he loved the sunshine and spent part of the winter with his wife, Pat, at their condo in Kona, Hawaii. Gordon is survived by three daughters from his first marriage. Gordon is also survived by his wife, Pat, and three stepchildren, 10 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.
JAMES “JIM” WILKOWSKI ’85 died July 29, 2021, just five days after his 60th birthday. Born in Denver, Colorado, Jim was raised in Colorado and Arizona, and came to the Pacific Northwest to attend SPU and ultimately remained here. He and KIM MCMANUS ’86 married soon after he graduated with his BA in religion. Jim taught history at Skyview Junior High (later Skyview Middle School) in Bothell, Washington, for 27 years. In his honor, Skyview administrators are currently working toward renaming the school library in his honor, because of the amount of time he spent in the library with his students, helping them do research for the project-based teaching that he and his co-teachers championed as being a higher-learning pathway to give students the skills needed for the rest of their lives. Jim loved connecting with his students and he encouraged them to push themselves further than they thought possible. He often had students return after their high school or college graduation to tell him about the difference he’d made in their lives and how the skills he taught them made them more prepared for college and life than other classes. Jim was an avid cyclist, reader, and loved to travel. He also taught several Bible studies over the years. Jim is survived by his wife, KIM MCMANUS WILKOWSKI ’86, and their children, Rachel and Benjamin, and one grandchild.