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Former Bethel College president Vernon Neufeld dies at 88

Bethel’s seventh president, Vernon H. Neufeld, died July 18 in Bakersfield, Calif., after a brief illness.

He was born April 11, 1920, in Shafter, Calif., one of six children of Nicolai and Justina Neufeld, and raised on the Neufeld family farm west of Shafter. He graduated from Wasco Union High School in 1939 and married Ruth I. Neumann Nov. 17, 1940.

After working the farm for a few years, Neufeld decided to pursue a college education. He and his family moved to North Newton in 1946, where Neufeld studied at Bethel, graduating in 1949 with a bachelor of arts in music. They returned to the Shafter farm for a year before moving to Chicago in 1950, where Neufeld attended Mennonite Biblical Seminary, earning a divinity degree in 1954.

Before he completed his divinity degree, Neufeld moved the family to Donnellson, Iowa, where he served as pastor of Zion Mennonite Church, commuting to his seminary classes in Chicago. In 1955, the family moved to New Jersey, where Neufeld earned masters and doctoral degrees at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1957 and 1960, respectively.

In 1959, Neufeld was hired as faculty in the Bethel College Department of Bible and Religion and the family moved back to North Newton. After one year of teaching, Neufeld accepted the position of president of Bethel College, serving from 1960-67.

Virginia youth give final Bethel donation to Philadelphia school

A year ago, Bethel College had just completed a successful experiment at the Mennonite Youth Convention in San Jose, Calif.

Instead of spending money on promotional items, staff from Bethel’s admissions, alumni and church relations offices, who co-sponsored the college’s booth in the youth convention display area, decided to emphasize service. Each day for four days, the young people who stopped by Bethel’s booth were invited to leave tickets in a tumbler. Bethel donated a dollar -- that would otherwise have gone toward buying giveaway items -- for every ticket, up to $1,000 a day, with the total to be divided among three service agencies from the Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference regional area and one youth group, which got to choose its charity. The youth also signed canvas banners to be given to each of the organizations.

On July 11 this year, Dave Linscheid, director of alumni relations, visited Cornerstone Christian Academy in Philadelphia to deliver the last San Jose check. Harrisonburg (Va.) Mennonite Church’s youth group won the fourth-day drawing at the youth convention. They chose to give the money to Cornerstone, the location of their summer service trip this year.

Old Science Hall auction Aug. 9

Alumni and friends of Bethel will have an opportunity to purchase a memory from the Old Science Hall on Saturday, Aug. 9. An auction of antique furniture and equipment will begin at 9:34 a.m. Alumnus Wade Brubacher ’70, North Newton, will be the auctioneer and the Bethel College Women’s Association will serve rolls and coffee and a lunch menu.

Included in the more than 100 items to be auctioned are old oak lab stools, oak desks and library tables, an antique hall tree, bookcases and a South Bend 9-inch No. 5 bench lathe (metal lathe) with an original company bulletin dated 1934.

All proceeds from the sale will go to the maintenance endowment for the new Academic Center and nursing facility. Come join in on the fun and the memories.

Kauffman Museum photos and lecture focus on Mennonites

The traveling exhibit, “Mennonites in Texas: The Quiet in the Land,” will be on display at Kauffman Museum through Sept. 21. The show is being toured by the Center for American History of the University of Texas, Austin. It features 25 photographs by Laura L. Camden, currently on the faculty of Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff. As part of her master’s degree program in photojournalism at the University of Texas, Camden photographed the Low-German speaking community of Mennonites living in Seminole, Texas.

Kauffman Museum’s Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 10 will feature John Sharp, Hesston College historian and history professor, speaking on “Great Trek Mennonites Remembered: Khiva Museum on Track.” Last May, Sharp led a tour group to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. He will offer an update on the progress of a museum exhibition scheduled to open in spring 2009 that will showcase the contributions of Great Trek Mennonites.

Play golf and attend a home football game Sept. 13

Alumni and friends of Bethel College are invited to play in the 17th annual Fall Thresher Golf Classic on Saturday, Sept. 13, at Hesston Golf Park, then attend a Thresher football game in North Newton that evening.

This year the fall classic is being held the second rather than third Saturday of the month in order to give players from a distance the opportunity to attend the home football game. Those who golf will receive a discount coupon for $2 off the admission price to the 7 p.m. game against Kansas Wesleyan.

Last year, 98 golfers on 25 teams participated in the Hesston tournament. The event promotes fellowship and supports the college through the Alumni Association. It is hosted by the Golf Committee of the Alumni Council. All golfers are welcome.

For a registration form, contact the alumni office, (316) 284-5251, alumni@bethelks.edu. In addition to the $2 discount on the game, receive a $10 discount on the $75 fee to golf when registering with payment by Friday, Aug. 29.

Share your ad building memories at Fall Fest

What special memories do you have of the Bethel College Administration Building? What anecdotes can you tell that feature the nooks, crannies, offices, rooms, stairways or exterior of the structure? What impressions do you have of the architecture? Which of its design features do you like best? What other memories or stories do you have to share?

The History Department and 125th Anniversary Committee invite alumni to participate in Bethel’s own oral history project, titled “The Administration Building: A Sampling of Memories,” at Fall Festival, Saturday, Oct. 4.

Come to The Meeting Place in the northeast corner of ground floor of the Ad Building any time between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Facilitators will make it easy for you to briefly share your thoughts, which will be recorded for the archives and for possible use in a new Bethel history that Keith Sprunger, Oswald H. Wedel professor emeritus of history, is writing.

This and other events at Fall Fest 2008 serve as a kick-off to five years of special activities to observe the 125th anniversary of the college in 2012.

Alumni association offering trip to China in 2009

Bethel College alumni and friends are invited to join experienced tour leaders Jim ’57 and Shirley (Suderman) ’57 Goering, North Newton, on a trip to China, Oct. 30-Nov. 17, 2009. The trip is sponsored by the Bethel College Alumni Association. International air travel will be arranged by MTS Travel, Newton.

The trip is being offered on a first-come-first-served basis to 25 alumni and friends, with a minimum of 16 required to make it viable. Costs -- including lodging in 4- and 5-star hotels, all meals and two full weeks in China -- are difficult to determine at this time, but are likely to range from $5,000-$5,200. The deadline for an initial deposit will be Jan. 15, 2009.

Those interested in participating should contact Office of Alumni Relations, 300 East 27th Street, North Newton, KS 67117, (316) 284-5251, alumni@bethelks.edu, to indicate their interest in receiving more information in the future.