Response Online


Footnotes: In Memoriam

ROBERT “BOB” COX ’47 died July 10, 2014, at the age of 92. Born in Burlington, Oklahoma, Bob was there just six weeks when the family moved first to California, then to Oregon. By the age of 6, he lived in a Kansas “dugout” home and rode a horse to school with his little brother aboard. By the age of 9, the Dust Bowl forced them back to Oregon. His dad drove the flatbed truck, Bob drove the 1930 Model A Ford (with pedal extensions), and mom took the train. In high school, Bob taught himself to fly an airplane. While a student at Seattle Pacific College, Bob carried his disabled best friend, JACK ARNOLD ’43 (deceased) on his back wherever the terrain was not conducive to wheelchairs. Bob was a student at Spring Arbor Seminary the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He joined the Navy despite their insistence that the name on his birth certificate was Robert Junior Cox. Henceforth, whenever asked what the “J” stood for, he proclaimed that it stood for “Jehoshaphat.” In World War II he flew B-25 bombers in the South Pacific in a squadron Tokyo Rose called “The Flying Nightmares.” At the end of the war, he stayed in the reserves until 1964 and retired with the rank of major. Along the way, he married his high school sweetheart, Georgia Brandt. They were married 15 years and had eight children before she died. Ordained in the Free Methodist Church, the Mennonite Brethren Church, and the Baptist General Conference Church, Bob was a circuit riding preacher in rural Oregon and preached over the radio and in four churches each Sunday before sitting down to dinner with the family. In 1953, he became president of Los Angeles Pacific College (now Azusa Pacific University).and officiated at many student weddings. In 1964, he married Glennis Smith and together they had three more children. When most men would be slowing down, Bob backpacked and took pack horses into the Sierra Mountains and was a volunteer EMT on the Sierra Safety Council Ambulance. A lover of scripture, he knew Latin and Greek and could expound on the original meanings. He enjoyed reunions with his war squadron mates and outlived them all. When Bob, a Rotarian, retired as an assistant Baptist pastor in 2002, Alzheimer’s disease was slowly taking its toll. He is survived by his wife of 49 years; 11 children; 58 grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and a sister.

DEAN ERICKSON ’49 died September 15, 2014, at the age of 89. Born in Everett, Washington, Dean served with the Army in World War II. It was on a battlefield in Italy that he lay wounded and promised God that if he got Dean out alive, Dean would follow him all his days. Dean survived, earned a degree from Seattle Pacific College, and then a degree in theology from North Park Theological Seminary. With that education and his new wife, Donna, he answered the call to missionary service in the Covenant Church, serving in Ecuador for three terms. From 1964–68, he served as general director of education for the Ecuadorian Covenant Church. The next year he became an evangelist in Medellín, Colombia, then left the mission field 10 years later. Dean pastored First Covenant church of Los Angeles and Iglesia Del Pacto in Eagle Rock, California. He is survived by his wife and a daughter.

WILLIAM “BILL” FARMER ’57 died May 11, 2014, at the age of 83. Born in Jasper, Arkansas, Bill came to Seattle Pacific to become an educator while harboring a dream to be a farmer as his father before him. Bill started his 18-year education career in Soap Lake, Washington, and in three years became a principal in the Soap Lake School District. Along the way he purchased the family farm in Ephrata, Washington, and in 1975, resigned from SLSD to become a full-time farmer. A naval reservist on active duty during the Korean War, he also served four years in the Air Force Reserves. Known for his storytelling gifts, Dean was an avid outdoorsman and gardener, and enjoyed camping with his family. He liked to give gifts of fruit and vegetables that he grew on the farm. Bill was twice named Educator of the Year and recipient of the Golden Acorn Award presented by the Soap Lake Parent Teacher Association. He is survived by his wife, Melinda; five sons; eight grandchildren; and two sisters.

CHRISTINE FEAGIN ’08 died September 27, 2014, at the age of 29. Born in Corydon, Indiana, Christine was destined for a life of music. She was an oboist selected to study oboe at Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts and played oboe with the Pittsburgh Youth Pops Orchestra. She earned an undergraduate degree in piano performance from SPU and became the owner and instructor of The Piano Nook in Seattle. She also accompanied for SPU and various children’s choirs, and was an instructor in Gamelan, a complex collection of Indonesian instruments. An active member of Bethany Community Church, the Seattle Music Teachers Association, and Gamelan Pacifica, she enjoyed bicycling and hiking, and was a fan of cats and kids. Chair of SPU’s Music Department Carlene Brown says that Christine will forever be known for “her incredible smile, gentle heart, and fabulous musicianship.” Christine is survived by her husband, a brother, and her father.

WILLYS FOLSOM ’40 died May 9, 2014, at the age of 94. Born in Seattle, Willys grew up in Waterville and Tacoma, where his father pastored Presbyterian churches. During high school and college summers, Willys worked a job he loved as chief assistant to his maternal grandmother, head cook at Seabeck Conference Center on Hood Canal. He attended Pacific Lutheran College for one year before transferring to Seattle Pacific, where he majored in history and was valedictorian. He taught high school for a year before taking military duty and officer training during World War II. He was stationed at the air base on Adak in the Aleutian Islands. He eventually earned a doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Washington and became dean of Centralia Junior College before returning to active duty as a major in the Air Force during the Korean War. For two years, he served as a testing officer in Oklahoma and Texas. After his service, he took a position as a professor of statistics first at the University of Connecticut, then at Sacramento State University. Later he became dean of admissions and a counseling psychologist in the counseling center. In retirement, his wife started a music studio and Willys studied to become a piano tuner. Together, they formed the Pro Musica Ensemble, a vocal group of 50 singers and some instrumentalists. Carol directed, Willys sang bass. Among his favorite interests was playing piano, cello, and trombone, the latter of which he did performing in Dixieland bands and brass ensembles. He enjoyed reading, reciting verse, and sports, even coaching basketball for a time at SPU. He liked to organize neighborhood athletic competitions, play endless games of ping pong, hike, and camp. With a knack for repair, he made bikes, go-carts, lawnmowers, and a piano new again. Willys is survived by his wife, Carol; daughter, Heather; stepson, Matthew; and five siblings.

LULA GILBERT ’39 died June 12, 2014, at the age of 97. Born in Plainville, Kansas, Lula was a student at Central Christian College before transferring to Seattle Pacific College and certification as a teacher. During summers off from the classroom, the career teacher traveled the world and taught overseas in Japan. A true “Rosie the Riveter” for Boeing during World War II, Lula had a touch of the derring-do. At age 83, she drove with her older sister across Kansas to revisit the homestead, and at age 95, she flew to Arizona to celebrate her birthday. A resident of the Warm Beach Retirement Community in Stanwood, Washington, Lula enjoyed volunteering, working Crossword and Sudoku puzzles, and was a Seattle Mariners fan. Known for a gentle and encouraging spirit, she is survived by numerous nieces and nephews.

Communicating Excellence

SPU Staff Member and Alumna Known for Her Steady, Guiding Hand

Jennifer Johnson Gilnett '81Jennifer Johnson Gilnett ’81, director of University Communications and senior editor of Response, died September 11, 2014, after a swift and severe illness at the age of 56. She was beloved to Seattle Pacific University as an alumna, a staff member, a leader, a friend — and beloved most of all to her husband of 29 years, SPU Arts Marketing Associate and Admissions Counselor Kim Gilnett ’74.

Read the full tribute and remembrances.

ANGEL MAZA ’72 died August 23, 2014, at the age of 71. Born in Rizal, Nueva Ecija, Philippines, Angel was the fourth of eight children. In 1969, he applied for a U.S. student visa to attend Seattle Pacific College, where he earned an undergraduate degree in political science. Angel returned to The Philippines to be with his wife and two children and was blessed with three more children — and earned a law degree. He emigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1985 and worked several jobs before taking a position as a Seattle transit operator, a position he held for 20 years. With his legal know-how, Angel assisted family and friends with legal advice. Employing the carpentry skills learned from his father, he built a family home in West Seattle and landscaped it with beautiful gardens. Angel founded a ministry in The Philippines in honor of his father and in support of several local churches in Rizal. He loved camping with the family, road trips to national parks, and frequent trips to his homeland. Angel is survived by Warlita, his wife of 48 years; three daughters, including JAZZIE MAZA ’03; two sons, including JEFF MAZA ’01; and six grandchildren.

SARAH MCMURRAY ’05 died September 14, 2014, at the age of 31. Born in Portland, Oregon, Sarah moved with her family to Bend, Oregon, where she graduated high school. An active member of Bend’s arts community, she was a freelance writer and participated at Poet House, The Work House, and the Women’s Muse Conference. Sarah was employed by Pacific Source Health Plans. She is survived by her parents, a sister, and grandparents.

Warmed by His Love

SPU Instructor Helped Students Feel at Home

James MitreThe memories of James Mitre are rich with the lilt of life: Jim’s infectious laughter and gifted guitar playing for Young Life meetings. His broad and easy smile. Jim’s coming alongside the Men in Nursing group at Seattle Pacific University, mentoring them and hosting a monthly luncheon just for them.

An instructor of nursing in the School of Health Sciences, Jim died May 26, 2014, at the age of 55, after a long hospital stay and extensive surgery. “Many of us have been touched by his deep and authentic love of others,” says Lorie Wild, dean of SHS. “You just could not be around Jim without breaking into a smile of your own and experiencing the warmth of that love. If there was ever anyone that emanated the love of Christ and the friendship of the Holy Spirit, it was Jim.”

Part of a large U.S. Navy family and the second of nine children, Jim and his siblings moved often before settling in Seattle. He was a voracious reader, valued a good thrift shop adventure, and once attempted surfing despite not knowing how to swim.

At Seattle Pacific since 2008, Jim received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Washington. A registered nurse at Seattle Children’s Hospital, he was also faculty advisor for SPU’s Ohana ’O Hawai’i Club. He befriended each of the Hawaiian students and helped alleviate theirhomesickness

“Ohana means family (in Hawaiian),” says SPU senior Kaui Brito. “He instilled that in a lot of us.” Jim is survived by his wife, Teresa; a son; a daughter; and a large extended family.


OLETA COMBEEE OWENS ’44 died July 13, 2014, at the age of 91. Born in Lakeland, Florida, Oleta graduated from Lakeland Business College and Seattle Pacific College. She was also employed in the financial aid office and as a student counselor at SPC. She later settled in Yakima, Washington, where for years she was head office manager for Tuft’s Drug Company and in the trust department of First Interstate Bank. A faithful member of First Baptist Church, Oleta taught children’s Sunday school, volunteered with Union Gospel Mission, and faithfully delivered devotional readings in the county jail. She is survived by a son, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

JANICE “JAN” SHAFER ’61 died August 5, 2014, at the age of 75. Born in Dell Grove, Minnesota, Jan earned a nursing degree at Seattle Pacific College and completed a one-year graduate Bible course at Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, Oregon. Called to serve with TEAM, The Evangelical Alliance Mission, and the Bible Society of the Emirates, she spent 38 years a missionary to the United Arab Emirates. Most of her career was as a nurse in the Oasis Hospital in the city of Al Ain. Jan attended her 50-year SPC reunion in 2011. She is survived by a sister and a brother.

ROSALIE CUMMINGS STONE ’56 died July 14, 2014, at the age of 81. Rosalie was just one quarter shy of completing an undergraduate degree at Seattle Pacific College, but went on to work as office manager in the SPC Admissions Office. Active in Beta Theta Pi and the Women’s Honor Society, she married ROBERT STONE ’61. Rosalie died surrounded by four generations of her family, who will remember her love, her smile, and her sense of humor. She is survived by her husband; a daughter; a son, DAVID STONE ’85; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

MARILYN BURNS WICK ’60 died May 9, 2014, at the age of 76. Born in Glendale, California, Marilyn lived her high school years in Seattle. She married RONALD WICK and they settled in Tacoma, Washington, faithful members of First Assembly of God Life Center. A school teacher, her loves included her husband of 51 years, their three sons, reading, gardening, and travel. Marilyn is survived by her husband; three sons, including STEVEN WICK ’86 and KEVIN WICK ’87; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandson.

DOROTHY “JUNE” WHITE WILSON ’53 died May 3, 2014, at the age of 84. Born in Three Sands, Oklahoma, June also lived in Oregon and graduated high school in Bremerton, Washington. She studied Christian scripture, theology, and Christian education at Seattle Pacific College, and taught elementary school in Sunnyside, Washington, and Sweet Home, Oregon. In 1960, she married PAUL WILSON ’48, and they moved to Corvallis, Oregon. June served 23 year as a librarian in the Oregon State University William Jasper Kerr Library (now the Valley Library), and as a teacher, choir member, and vocal soloist in the Corvallis Free Methodist Church. Following retirement, the Wilsons enjoyed traveling in their RV, and lived and worked for several years at the paradise Cove Resort in Wheeler, Oregon. June supported Free Methodist and Nazarene foreign missionaries for more than 60 years and was once honored as the Oregon Conference of the Free Methodist Church Woman of the Year. For several summers, she conducted outdoor worship services in English and Spanish for seasonal farm workers. The mother of a special-needs daughter, June was a pioneer advocate for the Corvallis area intellectually and developmentally disabled community. She volunteered for the Special Olympics and with her husband co-founded Faith House, a group home for special needs women. June is survived by her husband of 54 years; a daughter; a son, ROBERT WILSON ’79; and a sister.

BESSIE FINLAY WITT ’48 died March 22, 2014, at the age of 91. Bessie and her husband, C. AUBURN WITT ’48 (deceased), served as missionaries in Nigeria for many years. After their return to Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, she worked for 19 years as a head nurse. Bessie is survived by a daughter, a son, and six grandchildren.