In memoriam, Spring 2020
Read about the lives of alumni and friends of SPU who have died.
RICHARD “DICK” BURLEY ’44 died Jan. 20, 2020, at the age of 95. Born in Seattle and raised on Whidbey Island, Washington, Dick graduated from Langley High School in 1942. He attended Seattle Pacific College, University of Washington, and Seattle University. He became a professional musician who owned and operated music stores, traveled with the Henry Busse Band, played in various musical groups, taught music in Montana high schools, taught private lessons, and did instrument repair. Dick also lived in Monterey, California, Coos Bay, Oregon and Bow, Washington, where he married Ruth Ann Schreuder in 1990. Dick was a kind, thoughtful, sincere, and compassionate man. He had a deep love for music, appreciated his family, had a good sense of humor, and enjoyed learning. He loved the Lord and was a member of Faith Lutheran Church in Bellingham, Washington. Proceeded in death by a brother and sister, Dick is survived by his wife, Ruth Ann, five children, three stepchildren, three grandchildren, five great-grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; a brother and two sisters, and numerous nieces and nephews.
LEROY CHARCAS MED ’86 died Jan. 4, 2020, at the age of 84. Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, Leroy attended Azusa Pacific University, Point Loma Nazarene University, and Seattle Pacific University, to achieve his BA, MA, and MEd degrees. A lifelong educator, LeRoy loved teaching both children and adults. Over the years, he taught at-risk youth and wards of the court in Los Angeles, and public-school students in California, Idaho, and Washington state. He also taught educators around Washington state for years through the Seattle Pacific University continuing education program. In retirement, LeRoy was as a substitute teacher in various school districts. At a young age, LeRoy showed special interest in classical music, and he became an accomplished violinist, playing at several well-known venues, including the Hollywood Bowl. A devoted husband and father, LeRoy was married to Deborah Charcas for 45 years. She died Jan. 6, 2020, two days after LeRoy. LeRoy is survived by their three sons.
SHARON MARSH DOWNY ’80 died Dec. 16, 2019, at the age of 62. Born in Portland, Oregon, Sharon earned a bachelor’s degree in food sciences from Seattle Pacific University and a master’s in foods and nutrition from the University of Washington. She had a lifelong fight with lupus and several years battling breast cancer. When Susan could no longer work, she volunteered her time, knowledge, and love to those around her. She ran a Cabbage Patch doll hospital for the neighborhood Latch Key girls, teaching and mentoring them. Sharon also volunteered at the local senior homes. She was also an avid crafter and quilter, greeting card designer, seamstress, puzzler, and color analyst. She enjoyed spending time with her husband and constant companion, Ben, taking their dogs for long walks at her cabin in the woods near Marblemount. Preceded in death by her father, Sharon is survived by her husband, William “Ben” Benson; her mother; two brothers;seven nieces and nephews; and numerous grandnieces and nephews.
CORAL DIETZ FINKBEINER ’54 died Dec. 12, 2019, at the age of 87. Daughter of two Free Methodist pastors, Coral, was born in Colville, Washington. After graduating valedictorian of her high school class, Coral attended and graduated from Seattle Pacific College with an elementary education degree. In 1955, she married Raymond Finkbeiner, and together they pastored Free Methodist churched in Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho until 1982. Delores taught first and second grade early and late in her career. In between, she shared her love of teaching as a mother, Bible study leader, and mentor. Raymond and Delores divorced in 1988. She continued her zest for adventure and world travel into retirement, making it to Africa and Israel when she was more than 80 years old. Coral loved to plan and attend a good party, and was famous for her decorations, carrot-cake deliveries, and tea parties. It was important to her to have a colorful yard and bountiful garden. She is survived by two sons and two daughters, and eight grandchildren.
FORREST FRANKLIN JR. ’61 died Dec. 4, 2019, at the age of 80. Forrest was the husband of Instructor Emerita of Education SUSAN FRANKLIN ’90 MEd, and he and Susan were active at First Baptist Church in Seattle.
HAROLD HARRIMAN ’46 CC died Nov. 4, 2019, at the age of 95. Born in Long Beach, California, Harold graduated from Cascade College with a degree in theology. He and his wife, Evelyn, served as missionaries through World Gospel Mission for 42 years — 39 years in Bolivia and three years in Paraguay. Predeceased by his wife, Harold is survived by three sons and a daughter; a brother and a sister; 14 grandchildren; and 25 great-grandchildren.
CLINTON HOOPER SR. ’68 died Jan. 3, 2020, at the age of 75. Clint lived a life devoted to community and family, retiring from his work as coordinator for the City of Seattle Parks Department not long before he died. He was a mentor to many and founded youth outreach programs throughout the greater-Seattle area over the past four decades after 25 years of ministry with Campus Crusade for Christ through Athletes in Action and Pro Athletes Outreach. Clint passed on a legacy and exemplification of love for all people, as delivered through his ministry and faith in Jesus Christ. He was loved, admired, and respected by all whose lives he touched and is already deeply missed. He is survived by his wife, children, and grandchildren.
DONALD “DON” HOWELL SR. ’53 died Aug. 29, 2019, at the age of 91. Raised on family farms in Marysville, Washington, Don enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1950 and served in Korea and Japan during the Korean War. Honorably discharged as a sergeant, he continued to serve in the Army Reserves and then the National Guard, retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1987. He met LEONA LEONARD ’53 while doing graduate work at Seattle Pacific College and they married in 1953. Don had a beautiful baritone signing voice, and he directed and sang in church choirs in the Spokane, Washington area. Don taught music, drama, and mathematics in Deer Park (Washington) and Raymond (Washington) school districts. He could play any instrument proficiently, whether it was strings, brass, reeds, or percussion. Don and Leona moved to Aberdeen, Washington in 1955, where he taught mathematics at Hopkins Junior High, Weatherwax High School, and Grays Harbor College. He earned a master’s degree from Portland State College in 1966. He retired from teaching in 1985. Don also served as a councilman for the 5th Ward on the Aberdeen City Council in the 1970s and was a member of the Aberdeen Planning Commission. An active member of the United Commercial Travelers, he served as grand counselor in 1986; he was also a commander of and was a life member of the American Legion, a member of the Aberdeen Elks, the Washington Education Association, and National Education Association. After retiring from teaching in 1985, Don and Leona entered the ministry, serving churches in the Methodist conference for the next 12 years. In 1985, Don and Leona served as unpaid pastors in Eastern Washington at the Pateros and Bridgeport Methodist churches for three months. Three months turned into eight years, and they retired from lay ministry in 1997. Don and his wife travelled extensively in North and South America. In 2016, Don suffered a stroke, and for the next three years, he remained at home. Don is survived by Leona, his loving wife of 66 years; five children; 11 grandchildren; five great grandchildren; a sister; and numerous nephews and nieces.
VIRGIL IVERSON ’56 died Sep. 3, 2019, at the age of 85. Born in Bellingham, Washington, Virgil grew up in Snohomish, Washington. He graduated from Seattle Pacific University and Bethel University School of Theology. He and his wife, Norma Thompson Iverson ‘56, lived for the past 30 years on Washington’s Key Peninsula. Virgil was pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church in Tacoma, Washington, for seven years before joining the U.S. Army as a chaplain. He served as chaplain for 23 years, proudly served in many units throughout the world, including in Vietnam. Airborne training was one of his proudest accomplishments. After his retirement from the military, Virgil served as a prison chaplain for the state of Washington for 14 years. In retirement, Virgil was active in Longbranch Community Church, Key Peninsula Veterans, Retired Military Chaplains, and Longbranch Improvement Club. He believed every person he encountered was sent to him by God. Virgil is survived by Norma, his wife of 64 years; two sons; a daughter, and her son and daughter; 11 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and his brother, Verlyn Iverson ’58.
MARY JANE OLSON MA died Jan. 8, 2020, at the age of 86. Born and raised in Pullman, Washington, Jane grew up in Pullman, graduating from Washington State University, in 1955, with a degree in sociology. She and her first husband, James Aaring, had two children, and they spent three years overseas in Saipan in the mid 1960s. During this time, she and her family took an extended vacation touring the world before settling in San Jose, California, where she earned a teacher’s certificate. After relocating to Mukilteo, Washington, she earned her master’s degree in counseling from Seattle Pacific University. She remarried Harold Olson in 1978, and they lived in Mukilteo until she retired as an elementary school counselor from the Mukilteo School District. She and Hal moved to Sunland, in Sequim, in 1996 and became very active in the community. Jane enjoyed spending time with friends and fellow golfers, playing bridge, as well as being president of the homeowner’s association. Preceded in death by her first and second husbands, Jane is survived by a son and daughter; two stepsons; seven grandchildren; a great-grandchild; and many nieces and nephews.
DIANE FINROW THOMPSON ’56 died Aug. 22, 2019, at the age of 84. Born in Walla Walla, Washington, and raised in Seattle, Diane attended Seattle Pacific College after graduating from Roosevelt High School in Seattle. While at SPU, she met JERRY THOMPSON ’56. They married in 1956. For the first 20 years of their marriage, she helped Jerry create and run a nationwide real estate development company in Montecito, California, while they also raised three sons. After her youngest son began college, Diane accepted a modeling contract with LaBelle modeling agency. From there, she began a decades-long career in the travel business, first as an agent for Ask Mr. Foster travel agency in Santa Barbara and then Viking Travel in Solvang, California. In the mid 1980s, she and Jerry bought a ranch in the Alisos canyon area, where, along with their son and his wife, they planted a vineyard and raised cattle. Diane took great pleasure in hosting countless family gatherings and holidays over the last 30 years of her life. She and her husband traveled the world and also spent months in Seattle each year. Diane was a talented painter in her later years and an avid reader. She is survived by her husband of 63 years, Jerry, and three sons, including DAVID THOMPSON ’79, three grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
THOMAS TAVENER ’56 died Dec. 24, 2019, at the age of 88. A native of Oakdale, Nebraska, he enrolled in Nebraska State Teachers College after graduating from Oakdale High School. After his sophomore year, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was stationed in San Diego, California, and Sandpoint Naval Air Station in Seattle. After leaving the Navy, he enrolled at Seattle Pacific College, where he majored in music and met his wife, JEAN CARPER ’56. He transferred to the University of Washington finish his BA and earn an MA. In 1959, Tom was invited to teach at Whitworth College, beginning his 33-year career there. He taught, directed choirs and other musical groups, served in administrative posts, and took students on trips to hear and study music. He gave recitals regularly with assistance from accompanist George Ross and members of the Spokane Symphony. He began summer doctoral work at University of Colorado-Boulder in order to study with Aksel Schiotz, the famous Danish baritone. The next summer, he studied with Roland Hayes, the well-known African American tenor. After the third summer of operas, German and French exams, solo and lecture recitals, he transferred to University of Washington to complete his doctorate degree in musical arts. A well-known tenor who performed with many local choirs and as a soloist, he especially loved singing songs of worship. After retirement, pulled out his trombone from high school and played in the Men of Rhythm, a brass quintet, and the Project Joy Orchestra. In addition to music, Thomas was a sports enthusiast, took family camping trips to U.S. national parks, and enjoyed fishing, pheasant hunting, birding, and golfing. He is survived by his wife, Jean; two sons and a daughter; four grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.