ForeverMissed
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette,
Just a note to tell you that I have often thought about you and your sweet husband Bill. You shared a wonderful life together and it must be hard to imagine life without him. Know that God is faithful & present. I also wanted you to know that I am so grateful for Bill's belief in Student Life and for all the ways he supported our work during his long service as a trustee of Westmont. His energy lives on in the many graduates of Westmont all around the world.
Praying for you,
Jane Higa Westmont College May 25, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
I have wonderful memories of Bill's service to the Westmont Board. Bill always spoke with authority and wisdom.
I will never forget the uproar of laughter when Bill and Bruce Bare had teamed up on an opinion — Bill said to the rest of the Board, "You'll just have to Gwinn and Bare it."
Vince Nelson May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette,
During those days as a high school kid at Lake Avenue, Bill was my best friend and mentor. How I will miss seeing him one last time before heaven. My mom asked that I tell you of her love for both of you.
Darilyn and I both send our love to you. May you know the comfort of His presence during these tough days. We will be praying for you.
love in Christ,
Bud & Darilyn Bare
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Bill's visit to Whitworth University several years ago continues to stay with me. During the Sunday morning worship service, Bill stepped to the microphone and gave powerful testimony of how God had been faithful throughout all his life. He spoke with such great enthusiasm about his current ministry at Outdoor Resorts.
After that service, Bill and I shared a wonderful meal and talked about Bill's ongoing passion for Whitworth, for Mount Hermon (where I met him as a summer staffer at Redwood Camp '72), and most of all for Jesus Christ. I will always remember Bill's enthusiasm for Christian ministry.
Terry McGonigal Dean of Spiritual Life Whitworth University May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
We will always remember Bill's love of Jesus and sense of humor at Outdoor Resorts. He did indeed make faith fun.
Ed & Carol Johnson Outdoor Resorts Cathedral City, California May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
My dear Colette and Family,
Colette, you were Bill's greatest asset and I recall him in our home one evening telling us what a wonderful gift you had been to him.
I loved his sense of humor and how he could relate the Good News of Christ with people in the world. His and your ministry at the park (Outdoor Resorts) was very effective and fruitful. We were so blessed the times we were there with you and Bill. He was a compassionate chaplain and he "connected" with his people. I saw this when he led the services. I'm sure people felt "Bill will understand and accept me where I am."
We love you,
Paul and Elizabeth Larsen
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
We had the privilege of serving with Bill on Mount Hermon's Law Enforcement Committee. This was during the beginnings of this conference in 1977. We use to tease him about the fact that we never saw him finish a meal without being interrupted by someone. Usually though, he was the one that got up and went to talk to someone else.
Years later we experienced a "God Encounter" along Interstate 80 in Wyoming as we came upon an R.V. that had a blowout. When we pulled over to help, who should it be but Bill and Colette. His comment upon seeing us was, "How is it that you're always there to rescue me?" What would be the chances of that happening?
What a joy to have known and loved this very dedicated and energetic man. He was so full of love for Christ, and the spreading of the Gospel to his fellow man, whether they were young or old. He was a man who gave sacrificially of himself. He will be greatly missed by many but it is our heartfelt prayers that go out to Colette and your family.
Bob and Sheila Blecksmith May 9, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Gwinn family,
We were barely finished reading your good long letter in early April than word came that Bill had suddenly left us and was "sitting at the feet of Jesus." We and many of our church members (the older ones) were so saddened. Many knew him from Mount Hermon years. Bill was a faithful servant to the end & is leaving a blessed legacy to many and especially your children. We have been offered a ride to come down for the service but our 4 children from far & wide are coming for a special time to be together. They are all remembering you at this time. They have special memories of you, Mount Hermon & your frequent visits to Wolf Mountain. But the "one special week" every summer we spent at Mount Hermon really stands out. Our then little gals and guy looked forward to that from year to year!
Much love, joy & peace.
Dick & Norma Jones April 28, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Bill Gwinn stands out to me for his smile, his warmth and his sense of humor. I came to Mount Hermon as an 8 year old kid with my parents, Roger and Amy Lewis. Bill always talked to me, got to know me and made me feel welcome at camp.
When I grew up and went away to college, Bill and Colette welcomed me to their church in Whittier. Not only did they make me feel at home in worship but they also invited me over for lunch. I thank God for the part Bill played in showing me that following after the Lord could be such a joy-filled adventure!
Andy Lewis May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
A memory that I wanted to share is ... the water wars that went on between Bill & my mom, Barbara. The hose brought in the house at a Bible Study ... The buckets of water dumped from the Administration Building ... the playful nature of Bill will always be around through the Gwinn kids.
I have enjoyed being a part of the family thru Jenny & have many fond memories. Thank you!
Sandra Dosker May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Jenny & Casey,
I wanted to let you know how sorry I am that your dad has passed away. I know this is a tough time for your family. For you Jenny, I’m especially sad that you weren’t able to say goodbye to your dad in person. I hope that in a small way my words here can provide you with some comfort and joy.
I’ve been thinking a lot about your dad, not only since his passing, but also prior to that. Over the course of the last 12 months, I had recurring thoughts about going to see him because he may not be here much longer. My dad and I had even discussed traveling down to Banning the next time we had a chance, but it hadn’t worked out. I wanted to see your dad to thank him again for his ministry at Mount Hermon, but more importantly for the influence he had on my life. Sadly, I too didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to him.
The older I get, the more I realize that the people God puts in your life at an early age can be the most significant. Those people often play a pivotal role in the formation of your identity, character and spiritual development. Looking back on my life, I’m reminded that your dad was one of those people that intersected my life at a crucial time.
From 1970 to 1979 the Gwinn and Stewart families had what I remember as a very special relationship. There were many great times together as our fathers gave their vocation to the advancement of God’s kingdom through the ministry of Mount Hermon. Although I was only a young boy at that time (5-14), I have vivid memories of our families enjoying life together…Jenny my sister and Casey my older brother. Will anyone of us ever forget the houseboat trips on Lake Shasta? Those incredible memories have remained with me...even today it brings a smile to my face!
Your dad’s enthusiasm and zest for life is what I remember most about him. He was so fun to be around, and it seemed that whatever he was doing others wanted to be involved in. I think that is why our families had so much fun together.
It wasn’t until later in life that I began to realize the impact of men like your father on my life. Early in 1997, prior to the arrival of my first child, I was thinking about what a great role model I had for a father and wondering how I would ever be able to give my children the kind of childhood I was blessed to have. Ultimately, those thoughts led me to a real appreciation for the other “Godly” men that I got to watch live out their faith through the ministry of Mount Hermon. I’m convinced that your dad’s witness for Christ and the example of his life and leadership played an important role in my spiritual development.
It was during that time I was compelled to write letters to a few of the men whom I considered to have had a significant impact on my life. All six men that I wrote to worked on staff at Mount Hermon during my “growing up” years and your dad was the first man I wrote to. I thanked him for being a living example of what it looks like to follow Christ and how that shaped my life. He wrote me back from the desert shortly after and thanked me for the letter. He encouraged me to hold on to God’s Word, stay faithful to my wife, love my kids, and enjoy life.
Like most things not of this world, I don’t think your dad understood the impact he had on me. He was just being the man God called him to be, leading his family and Mount Hermon closer to the Kingdom.
That’s the great thing about our God. He takes people like us, in the midst of our humanness and makes something out of nothing for His cause. And every once in a while, He anoints a special man for a special purpose. Your dad was a special man. I’m so glad to have known, loved, and been loved by him. I can’t wait to see him again in heaven!
Know that I grieve with you, but I also rejoice with you. Your father’s life was one that God used in a powerful way for His Glory!
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2
John Stewart, Jr. May 1, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Jenny,
I had met your dad & mom several times over the years, but unfortunately didn't get to know your dad well. However, after hearing over & over today about how much fun he was to be around, how can I be surprised? His daughter is a reflection of that joyful spirit. I think that's why we became friends! The service encouraged and inspired me.... Your dad surely blessed us today!
love you, Kel
Jenny,
When I met your Dad he was so friendly and funny. Every time you spoke about him your eyes would light up because you had so much respect, admiration and love for him. I know you will miss him. Let's keep in touch!
love you, Alex
Alex & Kelly Aragon  May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette,
I am truly, deeply sorry for your loss. I am also so thankful to have met Bill and spent time with the two of you and Jenny. It was like spending time with a couple of teenagers, you two were always so young at heart and excited about life.
I remember going down to the desert to visit Bill & Colette with Jenny. They always knew where the 1/2 price happy hour restaurants were. It was like hanging out with a couple of teenagers. Fun !!!
May you find comfort everywhere you seek it.
Johanna Good
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
I had the privilege of serving at Mount Hermon in the summer of ’68, and quickly grew to respect and admire Bill. He was a true leader, concerned about the people who worked not for, but with him. He had a vision for Mount Hermon, and it is gratifying to revisit the website and see so many of the things he worked for realized today. I am old enough to see my peers passing over each year, but it is especially hard to say goodbye to people like Bill. May God bless Bill’s family.
Mel McNichols June 16th, 2012
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette,
"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.' " John 11:25-26.
How are you? Hope you're doing fine. It was with a great sense of loss when we heard of Bill's death. We wanted to let you know that you have our greatest sympathy, and our hearts are truly saddened. Nanay said, "Bill was more than just a wonderful person, he was always so kind and considerate the way he always welcomed me whenever he saw me." He will always remain in our hearts.
May God give you Himself as your strength. Our sincere thoughts and prayers are with you.
Marites and Cristina Narvaez Manila, Philippines
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
It was my pleasure to meet Bill when I visited my Aunt Linda and Uncle Doug in California last December 2007. I can clearly remember how warm and welcoming he and Colette were when we went to their home near Palm Springs on Christmas Eve. I only had a few, short conversations with him, but I could tell that he is a good son of our Lord. He radiated the love and peace of Christ and in just one day was a blessing to me. I thank the Lord for having that chance to meet him. He's a person who should always be remembered and honored.
April Narvaez September 19, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Doug –
Thank you so much for putting this on line. It was a great memoir you wrote about DAD.
I LOVE IT!!! Dad has been a great father to me ….. He was a great friend, always there when we needed advice, always willing to help and give in every way he can. I will always be grateful to him and Mom because they treated me as their own daughter.
I know that when I married Doug I would be in good hands because JESUS is the center of his life. Thanks to his parents because it was the product of their love for GOD that has made Doug into what he is today. Through Doug, I was saved! And Bill Gwinn was a big part of it. Bill was fun to be with, he had such a great sense of humor, caring and loving. Again, I thank the LORD for the blessings of knowing Bill Gwinn and being part of the Gwinn family.
Linda Gwinn September 13, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette,
I was so sorry to hear of Bill's home going. My seven years with him at Mount Hermon were significantly formative. He taught me much about Christian leadership, for which I am grateful. I regret that I cannot make it to the memorial service at Mount Hermon, as I will be in Uganda teaching pastors conferences.
Love in Christ,
Doug Goins April 28, 2009
(What follows are some memories of my time working with your Dad, and appreciation for his influence in my life.)
I served under Bills’ leadership at Mount Hermon on Summer Student Staff in 1966 – and then on Full Time Program Staff 1968-1974. Bill personally recruited me for both positions, and from the very beginning communicated confidence in my being able to grow into leadership in Mount Hermon’s ministry.
Bill surrounded himself with young men and trusted us with responsibility beyond our years and experience. He encouraged healthy challenging discussion among all of us, and modeled transparency himself. Bill was an example of focused hard work, and I probably learned as much about leadership by watching him, as from his words. Bill was a consummate “multi-tasker” before anyone defined it.
Bill was consistently loyal to his administrative staff and backed us in every possible way.
I recall a couple of my major decisions which reflected immature bad judgment. Bill stood with me, and used the difficulty to teach and train.
I thank God for Bill’s presence and influence in my life in very formative years out of College.
Doug Goins Peoria, Arizona September 15, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
I was a teenager when I first met Bill at the occasion of Phil & Melissa's wedding. I remember his joy & love for life & for people. He was a fun person to be around and made everyone feel special, even me the little sister. His smile, laugh & joy will always be remembered.
Julie (Assink) Wollan May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Bill and Colette, Gordon and I had many times met along the way after Melissa and Phil were married in 1980. Bill was a guy who loved to be connected with people and to connect people with people. One of the highlights he brought to our lives was arranging a meeting with Norma Zimmer when we came to Whittier for the 1980 wedding. Norma was so wonderfully gracious and a thrill to meet. It was thanks to Bill that Gordon and I had such a wonderful meeting with Norma.
Anna Assink Yakima, Washington May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette,
   My thoughts & prayers have been with you & your family since your beloved Bill has gone home to his Heavenly Father.
   I'll always remember Bill's enthusiasm for life, his smile and his firm stand and powerful witness for his Lord & Savior.
   I was so touched by Bill's phone call & his loving words of encouragement and special scriptures he gave me when my heart was broken after my Ed passed away.
   It's a beautiful love story to think you enjoyed a fulfilled & happy marriage with your sweetheart for almost a lifetime!
   I pray that God will comfort you & uphold you in His everlasting arms & give you strength for each new day.
   love you, Bev (Colette's sister-in-law)
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Where do I begin? My favorite uncle without a doubt!! So many great memories and a great example who I admired and appreciated. Thanks for a great day at Mount Hermon!
Gary D. Rogers May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Colette,
I am overwhelmed when I think of the Christian impact you and Bill had together lo these many years. My how you and Bill complemented each other in every phase of your lives.
I trust God is giving you the strength to handle this difficult time of your life. So much to reflect on and so much to be thankful for.
Don Rogers (Colette's brother in law)
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Aunt Colette, Melissa, Casey, Jenny and Doug,
I am forever thankful for the great memories we all can share. Between your trips to Seattle or ours down to Mount Hermon, we were all blessed by our families being together. There are so many Uncle Bill stories. I think the one I remember most was a Christmas Eve when Uncle Bill had us take some presents to a family there in Mount Hermon and the family was completely surprised and shocked. As it should be. There were the trips to the Boardwalk and Marianne’s Ice Cream in Santa Cruz. And the Uncle Bill/Uncle Nobby craziness everywhere we went. There was both laughter and love to cherish. But the greatest part is that no memory we share is lessened by death because of the Savior to sinners!!! You are all in our prayers!
Love you all,
Jeff Gwinn, Sharon, Jessica, Chelsea, Stacy, Cody and Jeremy Colorado April 30, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Aunt Colette,
We have been praying that God would wrap His loving arms around you and bless you with incredible grace & mercy during this time of such difficult loss. We pray also that you will have great joy in the remembrance of so many special days with your wonderful husband.
We only wish there were more. We hadn't called you yet but had just made reservations to fly into Long Beach for a wedding in June. We planned for some extra time so we could see you both. Now Uncle Bill has fought that last battle with death & is face to face with Christ.
On April 17 when I found out .... I was on my way home and then found Sarah in her room crying and reading the special letter that Uncle Bill sent her less than a year ago. Sarah was also looking forward to seeing you both in June. I am enclosing a copy of the letter so you can read it again. It meant so much to Sarah and to all of us.
We love you so much. We are so sad & so sorry.
Cindy and John Clapper, Caroline, Jeffrey & Sarah
Here is the cherished letter that Uncle Bill wrote to his grand niece Sarah on May 19, 2008:
Miss Sarah Clapper
Dear Sarah:
I am writing to express "Grandma" Gwinn's and mine as your loving "Grandpa", congratulations on the conclusion of your Junior year of high school. We are so proud of the lovely young lady you have become. Philippians 1:6 in God's Word speaks so wonderfully of what is yet ahead as you keep our gracious LORD in first place in your life.
Tho' we are really more your "aunt" and "uncle," I write in your Grandpa Nobby's stead to convey thoughts I know he had about you. He considered you as wonderful.
Know of our deep love for you and our prayers that God will continue to bless you and make you a blessing to others. We know God will use you to honor and glorify Him as you trust Him and continue to keep your body for His choice to spend your life serving the LORD with him.
If marriage to a godly man is not God's plan for you, at least for the foreseeable future, may you still be His woman, as you await the revelation of His plan for your life. May you always refuse to ever settle for less than God's best!
With much love and our faithful prayers,
Bill and Colette
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Hi Doug,
What a great idea to write about your Dad. I have enjoyed reading the letters that are posted.
I first knew your Dad's family in 1939 when they joined University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, Washington. It was a very impressive sight to see the Dad on one end of the pew and the Mom on the other end with the eight siblings in between — taking up the whole pew. Bill was the last of the eight children.
I got to know Bill's brothers, Nobby and Stan and his sister Dorothy very well in our youth group — Christian Endeavor. And then of course, your Dad and Aunt Bunny.
Nobby and I first started going out with each other when we were seniors in High School — 1941-1942; God had us picked out for each other and we were married in 1945 — right after WWII ended. By that time your Dad had became the little brother I never had. I was an only child and when your Uncle Nobby and I were married God gave me instant wonderful brothers and sisters. I was so blessed!!!!
I have many many wonderful memories of these early years — when I married your Uncle Nobby. Nobby was going to the University then, and had started a Gardening Business the year or so before we got married. Pretty soon he had to have help with it because it had grown so. So, of course he hired his little brother Bill. It was a fun time for them, working together and a fun time for me, having Bill at our apartment a lot. At that time Nobby was also managing a square block of new duplexes for their older brother Weldon. Bill helped Nobby put the lawns in there so we were able to have many long talks together. By then Bill was going to Whitworth College and trying to decide what he would do after that. His deep desire was to serve our Lord Jesus. And he did just that!!!!
It was amazing how Bill served our Lord. I was always so thankful that Nobby and Bill remained close and because of that our two families were close. When Bill was the Youth Minister at Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena, California, we visited them there. And of course we had great adventures with Nobby and Bill. They both were a bit crazy and kept us laughing. One time Bill brought a big greyhound (style) bus up from California, filled with his youth group. They planned to have a sing at our house. Nobby and I wondered how Bill was going to get that huge bus up our street and turned around. It was a "cul de sac" street and it was a real accomplishment to get that bus up and turned around. Amazingly they did it and we had a great sing in our living room!!!
Then God moved Bill and your family to Mount Hermon and there were visits back and forth. And God also placed Uncle Nobby in San Francisco for six months and Jeff, who was an 8th grader then and Uncle Nobby and I lived in San Mateo for the six months. So we had special times between Mount Hermon and San Mateo.
Doug, I could write a book about "our" big wonderful family. I had 61 and a half years with Uncle Nobby and because of our marriage I have had awesome brothers and sisters. I was so blessed. And I am so blessed with the big family that Uncle Nobby and I had / have. I think what I would say about the "original Gwinn kids" is that they weren't perfect but altogether they were awesome!!!! And I thank God so very much that He made me a part of this big wonderful family.
I was so happy to see, that at Bill's Memorial Service there were 14 from your generation there. That is 14 cousins from the third generation. And the 14 represented at least one from each of the eight "original Gwinn Kids"; I think that is amazing. There were also several from the 4th generation. And so many know the Lord Jesus and walk with Him.
As I said I could write a book about our Family. But —— anyway I do thank God for this Family!!! And that I am part of them!!!!
I hope this is a little helpful. Jennifer wrote an amazing letter about your Dad and I think she sent it to Casey. I have it somewhere too and I am looking for it. It is great, and it gives an idea how your Dad impacted the 4th generation. (see Jennifer's letter above this one)
It was special to visit with you at Mount Hermon.
Much love, Aunt Pat Seattle, Washington  September 22, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Hi Casey and Gwinn Family,
This is Jennifer Clapper (Cindy's daughter) writing on behalf of my 5 siblings while sitting with my grandma (Pat) and mom. We got together this morning to have breakfast with Gaba and share our stories of Uncle Bill. Caroline brought some great pictures taken from one of Bill and Colette's visits to our Lakewood home. These are pictures of Bill having fun with his siblings and their families. They are attached for you to see.
Bill resonated joy and the Clapper kids got to experience this from an early age. We would take our spring break trips to California with Nobby and Pat and one big highlight was going to Disneyland. But not just any Disneyland trip, Disneyland with Papa (Nobby) and Uncle Bill being more entertaining than any Disney character could ever compare to. Bill's joy for little things in life included making his grandnieces and nephews laugh by "accidentally" running into garbage cans!
Bill also displayed his joy for the Lord to my siblings and me. The last time I spoke to Uncle Bill he was encouraging me to seek God's will and to be strong as a Christian female. The last interaction my 17 year old sister Sarah had with Uncle Bill was getting a surprise letter from him during her Junior Trip. This was a special time when family and friends were invited to write a letter to Sarah. Uncle Bill wrote an incredible letter, encouraging her to seek Christ in all of her encounters in life. He continued, "I write in your grandpa Nobby's stead (as Nobby had just gone to be with the Lord that same year). Know our deep love for you and our prayers that God will continue to bless you and make you a blessing to others." Bill's joy for the Lord exuded his earthly being and was bestowed upon others through his kind and selfless sincerity.
Bill was a blessing to many but personally speaking, he was an immense blessing to us. It is easy to wish that we would have spent more time with him, but instead amongst our sorrow, we find joy in the times that we did spend with Great Uncle Bill. I started reading John Piper's Desiring God yesterday and he references Nehemiah 8:10. I immediately found strength in the Word of the Lord, "Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength". I had been waiting all day Friday to get an update from my mom and that update came as a phone call that Bill entered into heaven face to face with his Creator. As I read this verse in full from my Bible, I smiled with joy knowing that the joy of the Lord truly was Bill's strength.
Much love to an incredible family,
Jennifer Clapper Tacoma, Washington April 18, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
   What a joy is mine! Standing on the shoulders of "Uncle Bill" serving as Chaplain at Outdoor Resorts in Palm Springs, CA. Bill pioneered the chapel ministry nearly 20 years ago, is loved by so many in the resort, and had a great spiritual leadership role in their lives. Every week someone tells me a "Bill Gwinn" story of his life intersecting theirs. He was and is very loved here. This begins my fourth season of "filling his shoes" in the chapel program. I am in debt to him for his inviting me to follow him in this job.
   Some of my best memories are from serving as a counselor at Mount Hermon the summer of 1959. Bill was my role model, I wanted to be like him and dreamed of one day directing a camp and serving people, which the Lord did allow. Thanks to Bill making it possible, I had the joy of eventually serving as a Board member of Christian Camping International. My life was and always will be enriched by the life of my "Uncle Bill." I thank the Lord for his ministry, friendship, and profound impact on my life. Hebrews 11:6 surely captures much of his life, purpose, motivation. I know that Bill is now realizing his reward......
"Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."
Jim Gwinn Outdoor Resorts October 22, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
This is not an easy remembrance to write!! There are probably very few brother/sister relationships that could have been any closer than my "little" brother and myself. I can say "little", only because he was 19 months younger than I was, so I really don't remember very much about our first few years. We were number seven and eight...and that was the end of our parents having kids!! He started grade school in September...just after turning six...I started grade school in January after turning six in November. Those were the days that you could start mid-year. I went the eight years like you are suppose to do...but not Bill...he skipped a full year so we ended grade school just 1/2 a year apart. Then in high school, I post-graduated a half year so I could have a "graduation ceremony" putting us in the same place at the same time when starting College.
Bill and I were best friends...I taught him how to ride a trike, a bike, to roller skate, to play tennis etc, etc. We had a tennis court in our back yard where we could do all those things. We were both good for little kids at sports, but riding the bike was not his best learning experience, so I proceeded to take him for a ride on my bike, and we took a terrible spill....He learned quickly after that!! However, he may still be digging gravel out of his legs!!
We went together to Whitworth College all four years. After the first year, our Mother bought us a 1941 Ford, that was the last car built until after the World War Two was over. We had so many experiences driving that car...we put a musical horn on it so we always knew when the car was going out or coming back on campus. "Old McDonald Had A Farm" (you only need 3 notes) was our favorite tune!! Some of our cross state experiences need not be repeated...but one time, we had no lights, but we did have a search light on the drivers side, so we drove across Washington State with that being our only light!!! Bad!! But I did not get a ticket in those three years, and if Bill did, he sure never told me nor asked for money!!! Whitworth was good to him, as that is where he and Colette met and were married after Bill's first year at Fuller Seminary. Then our life together in physical proximity took a hiatus. We have always remained very close and have had many great times with him and his family...and I miss him. I am now the only living sibling of the eight of us. Still have five in-laws and they are each wonderful!!
I thank the Lord that Alex and I went to Palm Springs about six weeks before Bill died, and had a some great times with him and Colette. Glad to say that I talked with him on the phone less than an hour before he passed on to see the Lord as he was waiting for Colette to come into the room at the hospital. He mentioned he could hear her arriving from down the hall.
And as we did every night as children, we kneeled at Mom's knee and ended our "Now I lay me" prayer with "God bless Mother, Dad, Weldon, Rodney, Ralph, Stanley, Nobby, Dorothy, Bill and make me a good girl for Jesus sake....Amen!! P.S. Lord...take extra good care of Bill!!!"
Love ya...Bunny Belleview, Washington
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on March 31, 2019
to my dad [by Jenny]
you gave me your brown eyes and my brown hair. you called me your doll babe whenever you picked up the phone to talk to me.

you're the reason I have a campfire in my front yard and a skylight over my baby's bed.

you taught me that Jesus isn't a crutch, he's the whole hospital.

I got my first speeding ticket driving your convertible.
you taught me to laugh at myself.

I learned to whistle just like you and when I do, my kids come just like I did for you.

you're the reason I love to eat out at least once a day, preferably twice if possible.

you taught me to pull the weeds in my yard and the weeds in my life, before they got out of control.

you're the reason I know 299 camp songs and am teaching them to my kids.

remember " 'Wissahickon'? what a funny name!"

you must of played tennis with me a hundred times and I never did win a set from you until you were 68 years old.

you bought me my first Subaru and my first golden retriever
and you said sending her to heaven was the hardest thing you ever did. you took that pain for me.

you and I always wanted to climb Mount Whitney together—How 'bout on the New Earth?

you always washed my car when I visited you, any visitors car, because you had a servants heart.

you taught me "He is Risen, He is Risen indeed" ..... how was the buffet your first Easter in Heaven?

you're the reason I can't drive through a tunnel without honking.

you put me on your shoulders so many times and we looked for "potholes" in all those swimming pools over the years.

and your Halloween boogey-man with the trenchcoat—outside in the dark—you'd stagger and moan with the flashlight smashed under your contorted face. your silliness will never be duplicated.

you had a father who you didn't dare ask for a nickel.
yet you became a dad who gave me everything.

but most especially you showed me Jesus' love and taught me that heaven is our forever home.
i can't wait to play with you there
and we'll talk and love again.
Jenny (Gwinn) De Frates Colorado August 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on March 30, 2019
In Loving Memory of my Dad, by Casey Gwinn
You are never really ready for a parent to die. You know it is going to happen. You know that we are all going to die but still you are not prepared. And their death changes things. With the death of my Dad on April 17, 2009, I became fatherless for the first time in my life. It has been a deep and lonely realization. But the great comfort of it all has been knowing what Dad believed, who he lived his life for, how much he loved his family, and how he died.
Dad believed in Jesus with all his heart. He had believed since asking Jesus into his heart while sitting on his mother’s knee as a child.
Dad lived his life for his God, his wife, his children, and so many that he showered with love, hospitality, and acts of service. I have little doubt that there will be thousands of souls in heaven because of Bill Gwinn. His faithfulness to Jesus and his passion, leadership gifts, and vision allowed God to use him to draw thousands to the Savior in Pasadena, at Mount Hermon, in Hawaii, in Whittier, in Colorado, in Palm Springs, and in so many other places where he ministered at moments in time.
Through 58 years of marriage and raising four children, he so often chose affirmation, encouragement, and support. I received such a powerful dose of that affirmation. He cheered me on, hugged me tightly, never missed one of my sporting events, worked tirelessly with me on house and yard projects, stood on freeway overpasses with signs when I ran for office, and never missed a chance to tell me he loved me and how proud he was of me. He often wrote me notes, cards, and letters as well, memorializing his advice, belief in me, and redeeming love. He was my encourager and affirmer and supporter of my dreams.
The night before he died he told me how proud he was of me and how much he loved me. And I got to tell him how much I loved him. He wanted me to assure him that I would take care of all the things in life he was worried about. He wanted me to deliver the only new copy of Rings in the Redwoods (a history of Mount Hermon published in 1972) to the Executive Director of Mount Hermon, Roger Williams. He wanted to make sure I kept track of what mom needed. And I promised him I would take care of everything. Then, I kissed him on the forehead and said goodnight.
As I left the hospital that night, I saw my Dad the way he had been in so many chapters of his life. He was laughing and joking with the nurse and interested in the lives of those caring for him. Life, energy, and confidence were emanating from him as he sat in that hospital bed in the Intensive Care Unit at Desert Regional Medical Center. I even looked back and caught a glimpse of his energy as I walked out. The memory is frozen in my mind forever. It was a memory of my Dad I will always treasure.
When Dad died unexpectedly the next day, I was not there. He was talking to his attending nurse when he had a massive heart attack at 3:17 PM. Later, the nurse recounted what happened. My mom was in the room when he died…being faithful to him as she had been for 58 years. He was talking to the nurse, even joking with her. Then, his body went rigid. He thrust his chest up, fixated his eyes “toward the ceiling” (in her words), and he was gone. They brought in the paddles and tried to resuscitate him but he was gone in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye. She said he died without any look of pain on his face and he died with his eyes wide open.
Bill Gwinn, my amazing Dad, died, as he lived, focused on the Jesus he loved so much, laughing, thinking of others, and devoted to his wife, his children, and his grandchildren. I have no doubt that in that moment when Jesus called him, he looked into eternity and rushed to be with his Jesus.
Dad was a giant for the Kingdom of God. And when I wept in his presence after his death, I did not say goodbye. I told him I would see him again on the other side. He was my foundation, my moral compass. He gave me my manhood. He instilled in me his values. He modeled for me what a father and a husband should be and what a real man acts like.
A few things are indelibly etched in my mind . . . . my last kiss on his forehead, the last time he told me he loved me, the last time I told him I loved him, the promise I made to take care of everything, and the laughter I heard before I left his bedside.
And until I am in my father’s arms again, I will thank God every day for my Dad.
Casey Gwinn San Diego October 16, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on March 30, 2019
By Melissa (Gwinn) Assink: The day that Dad died was like some kind of horrible dream. It wasn't supposed to happen yet. We should have all been together at the hospital with Mom and Dad, and Dad should have been able to be "fixed". He was, after all, in ICU. You aren't supposed to die in the hospital. I know, because I am a nurse. That is where you go to get repaired, made well, and sent back home. But....God did repair him, in an instant. He made Dad well, and sent him home to heaven. It actually happened just the way it was supposed to, according to God's plan.
The pain was just so hard to bear at the moment, but God has not only healed Dad, he is gradually bringing peace and healing to us as a family, too. Someone wrote on their memory card at the service that "you never really get over losing your Dad, you just learn to live with it". God continues to teach us how to do that.
Looking back to years gone by, it is hard to separate memories of Dad from memories of Mount Hermon, because that is where the majority of our early family years occurred. When our family needed Dad to come from the auditorium or his office to somewhere else (usually the dining room for a meal appointment), we would often try to walk with him to keep him focused on the destination. When I undertook the task, my mantra with him was to repeat over and over that "we are now walking across the mall, looking neither to the right nor to the left", and he would sometimes repeat it with me. It was kind of like "lions and tigers and bears, oh my". It rarely worked, because there were people to greet, trash to pick up, or some other distraction of ministry that would grab his attention. Sometimes, though, we would succeed. Dad was very busy during the summer months and we learned as kids, as a family, to share him with the larger staff and the conferees. This was okay for us because summers were a great deal of fun and much of that fun originated with Dad.
Another memory is that Dad regularly came to my school functions. He rarely missed a fall football game at San Lorenzo Valley during my 4 years of high school where I was either marching in the band at half time on the field, playing in the pep band in the stands during the game, or participating in cheers with the pep club. Dad was right there to share in the memories. The Valley Press (Felton) newspaper once said that football games at SLV were like a Norman Rockwell painting, and having my Dad there to share those events with me is a special memory to have.
There were many things that Dad loved. Besides God, Mom, and his family, he loved convertible cars — playing Rook, tennis, whiffle ball, golf, kierslide, Pegity — building sand castles, waterskiing, swimming, and soaking in a Jacuzzi— having snowball fights — going to Giants baseball games, and later LA Dodger games— laughter, telling jokes, and playing practical jokes on people. He loved fireworks, and always had a bag of fireworks in his closet that could be shot off whenever needed to celebrate any event!! At one point in his life he had played the coronet (trumpet), and loved to take it out and "impress" us with the notes he could play, even though it was no longer a very impressive sound!!
I will remember the times when he would laugh, tell jokes, and share his joy of life with all those around him. He loved and served God and is now in the place of joy where he is able to laugh and praise God, together with all the saints who had gone before him. I hope there is golf, tennis, ping pong, Rook, and kierslide in heaven, because I know that in between the "praise and worship sessions", there will be great tournaments that will last for eternity — and Dad will be right there enjoying the celebrations, ready to sign us up for the next event when we all arrive in heaven!!
I love you, Dad.
Melissa (Gwinn) Assink Edmonds, Washington October 14, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on March 30, 2019
We will always miss you Dad and you too Mom. Happy to know you are in heaven with the Lord Jesus. Please know that we are following your advice to love the Lord with all our hearts. Looking forward to that Day when we will be reunited in glory. Thank you for your loving kindness and the great fun we had together. You taught us to know the Lord and to show kindness to everyone we meet. And if that was you, thanks for sending the two white pigeons that came to our home walkway the day after you were buried. Great sense of humor from heaven! [See Doug's further reminiscences of Mom & Dad in the "Stories" section]
Page 2 of 2

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
A Tribute to Bill Gwinn by Jenny DeFrates:
to my dad
you gave me your brown eyes and my brown hair.
you called me your doll babe whenever you picked up the phone to talk to me.
you're the reason I have a campfire in my front yard and a skylight over my baby's bed.
you taught me that Jesus isn't a crutch, he's the whole hospital.
I got my first speeding ticket driving your convertible.
you taught me to laugh at myself.
I learned to whistle just like you and when I do, my kids come just like I did for you.
you're the reason I love to eat out at least once a day, preferably twice if possible.
you taught me to pull the weeds in my yard and the weeds in my life, before they got out of control.
you're the reason I know 299 camp songs and am teaching them to my kids.
remember " 'Wissahickon'? what a funny name!"
you must of played tennis with me a hundred times and I never did win a set from you until you were 68 years old.
you bought me my first Subaru and my first golden retriever
and you said sending her to heaven was the hardest thing you ever did.
you took that pain for me.
you and I always wanted to climb Mount Whitney together—How 'bout on the New Earth?
you always washed my car when I visited you, any visitors car, because you had a servants heart.
you taught me "He is Risen, He is Risen indeed" ..... how was the buffet your first Easter in Heaven?
you're the reason I can't drive through a tunnel without honking.
you put me on your shoulders so many times and we looked for "potholes" in all those swimming pools over the years.
and your Halloween boogey-man with the trenchcoat—outside in the dark—you'd stagger and moan with the flashlight smashed under your contorted face.
your silliness will never be duplicated.
you had a father who you didn't dare ask for a nickel.
yet you became a dad who gave me everything.
but most especially you showed me Jesus' love and taught me that heaven is our forever home.
i can't wait to play with you there
and we'll talk and love again.
Jenny (Gwinn) De Frates Colorado August 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette,
Welcome back to Mount Hermon! (for the memorial service) While we know these days will hold grief and difficult moments, we're trusting the great outpouring of love and appreciation for Bill along with God's sustaining mercy will encourage your family many times over. How we thank God for the rich memories of Bill.
Do let us know how we can help you in these days.
Our love,
Dave & Carla Talbott May, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
The Thornburgh and Gwinn families have some good memories together. Summers back then were hard to get together as families but I remember our beach days that we had together, just our two families. We had fun playing wiffle ball and watching our Dads be so competitive. In fact I was upset because the Gwinns began to out number the Thornburghs with the addition of Jenny.
It was great to see our Dad's, "Bill G" & "Bill T", interact, work hard and play harder. We will miss Bill and know how much you miss him too. Both of our Dads are together again now. Praise God!
Steve Thornburgh May 12, 2009
P.S. (from Doug G.) I enjoyed so much chatting with Steve, Sandy, and Carole at the reception on May 12 and introducing them to my wife, Linda. Of all the people we knew at Mount Hermon, I always enjoyed getting together with the Thornburghs the most. Just want to know, is Patti still good at "Labyrinth"? I challenge you to a Labyrinth contest!
his Life

A brief biography of Bill Gwinn and also Colette Gwinn

William Douglas Gwinn (known as "Bill" by all his friends and family) was born on July 16, 1929 in Seattle, Washington and died on April 17, 2009 in Palm Springs, California. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Colette; his four children, Melissa (and her husband Phil) Assink, Doug (and his wife, Erlinda) Gwinn, Casey (and his wife, Beth) Gwinn, and Jenny (and her husband, Chris) DeFrates; his seven grandchildren (Jonathan, Zachary, Kelly, Karianne, Christopher, Dane, and Daisy); and his sister Barbara (and her husband, Alex) Antes.

Bill graduated from Roosevelt High School in Seattle in 1946. He graduated from Whitworth College in 1950 and received his Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1953.
Bill began his ministry as a Youth Minister at Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena, California in 1953. In 1957, he moved to Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center to serve as the Program Director. He later became the Executive Director and served at Mount Hermon until 1978. Many of the programs and initiatives of Mount Hermon today began through Bill Gwinn's leadership and vision. He moved on to become the pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church in Whittier, California from 1979 to 1987. He also served Interim Pastorates in Buena Vista, Colorado; Pearl City, Hawaii; and Hanalei, Kauai. From 1990-2006, Bill remained active in service to Jesus Christ as a Chaplain at Outdoor Resorts RV Park in Cathedral City, California.
Over the years, Bill served as president of the school board of San Lorenzo Valley School District in Felton, California; the Board of Trustees of Westmont College in Santa Barbara; the Board of Trustees of Forest Home Christian Conference Center; the Board of Directors of Bible Study Fellowship; the Board of Directors of African Enterprise; the Executive Committee of Christian Camping International; and in volunteer leadership roles with the Conservative Christian Conference, the Christian Conciliation Service of Los Angeles, the California Council on Alcohol Problems, the National Association of Evangelicals Advisory Committee, and the Hospital Chaplains Ministry of America. He also held leadership roles in at least three Billy Graham Evangelistic Association crusades: San Francisco (1958), Oakland (1971), and Anaheim (1985).

A brief biography of Colette Gwinn

Colette Gwinn was born on November 8, 1927 in San Francisco, California, the first of four children of Ed and Margaret. She died March 17, 2016 in Spring Valley, California. She attended Burlingame High School and graduated from Pasadena High School, Class of 1945. At Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington, she majored in Art and graduated in 1949. During college she was a member of a girls trio that sang often at banquets, weddings, churches, and other events. She kept busy on campus as a reporter for the Whitworthian (campus newspaper), was a co-editor of the yearbook, and ran for class secretary as a junior. It was here at Whitworth she met her future husband, Bill Gwinn. They married in 1951 while Bill was attending Fuller Seminary. Colette worked at the Southern California Gas Company in Los Angeles. Bill and Colette were both on Summer Staff at Mount Hermon several times.

The Gwinns had four children (see above) and Colette was a fantastic mother and wife. They say that behind every successful man is a loving and supportive woman and that could not be more true with Colette and Bill. Colette was instrumental in teaching her children to love and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. She was a tremendous homemaker, a wizard in the kitchen, and certainly had the gift of hospitality throughout her life. With her cooking, she often entered her banana bread, pumpkin bread, cookies and more at County Fairs. She also entered for table-settings and won. Her ability to decorate her own home spilled over to others; for example, when her older son Doug (& Linda) bought their first house, Mom was there to add her splendid, earthy touch such as using rough pine logs for curtain rods. Her love of art resulted in a variety of water-color paintings, or with colored pens or pencils. Foremost among these was "My Dollies' Prayer" with a drawing of daughter Jenny kneeling at her bed to pray, joined by four dollies. Raggedy Ann couldn't exactly kneel so she sat on the bed for the drawing. These were mass produced and hundreds were sold at the Mount Hermon Bookstore. She also specialized in making stationary cards with drawings of Jenny, of boats in the Santa Cruz Harbor, and of the Mount Hermon Redwood Trees and hiking trails. Mom loved riding bikes with the family and she also had a "moped" with which she buzzed around Mount Hermon. Other activities she enjoyed were leading kids as a "den mother", being active in the PTA, and being the number one fan of her kids at basketball, baseball games and concerts that her children were in.
On Sunday mornings, we would pile into the car and go to church (UBC in Santa Cruz). You would often hear her say a phrase that will echo into eternity: "This is the latest we've ever been!" As of result of our usual church tardiness, we had no choice but to march down to the front and sit in the first row, the only one available. They probably saved it for us.
Everywhere she and Bill went, Colette was beloved by those she knew and who she served, especially in her home. She would bend over backwards to help anyone in need. One example among many... I remember how our family hosted foreign exchange students from Germany and especially Brazil, making them feel right at home in California. Thanks to Mom especially, our Brazilian "daughter," Priscila Thomé fell in love with America and ended up coming back here to marry and raise her own family. And who could forget "Zito Trevesani-Neto" (cousin of Priscila) who starred on our SLV soccer team and lived with us for six months. Priscila and Zito affectionately called her "Mom."
There were a myriad of Mount Hermon speakers, staff, and neighbors, Plymouth Church of Whittier friends and other families who graced our home and Mom was always ready with a dessert, tea, a hug, and warm conversation. They say "a house is known by the company it keeps" and our house entertained a lot of company! Mom and Dad always had a "Guest Book" available for people to sign when they came over, and I lost track of how many guest books they went through (dozens).
 You could always count on Mom to keep you up to date on family happenings if you were away. She was great with Christmas cards, post cards, then more recently, New Years letters. When I was in college, I looked forward to Mom's "care packages" full of chocolate chip cookies, chocolate balls, and lots of surprises. When I was in Korea for a year, it was a thrill to get her packages; and the other officers I lived with also looked forward to sharing in the goodies. It was like Mom was sending you a little piece of "home."
Colette always made "coming home" something incredibly special and if you weren't at home, you couldn't wait to get back! I would have to say that her voice was my favorite sound, whether on the phone or in person.
Mom & Dad's 58 years together are a testament to the faithfulness of God in their lives and in our family. Now Mom herself has "come Home." We miss her dearly, but are happy she is reunited with Dad, that she is no longer in pain, and especially that she has received a warm welcome from the Lord Jesus Christ with Whom she now reigns in the Kingdom of our Lord.
A famous missionary* once said about his wife: "Surely the removal by a kind Father means that He rewarded you by taking you to the best home, the eternal one in the heavens."
If you have a specific recollection of Colette and would like it to be posted here on this page, please email me (Doug) and I'll post it.
As it says in the flyer for Mom's "remembrance" get together on April 9, 2016 at Mount Miguel:
Loving wife  Devoted mother  Trusted and faithful friend  Tenderhearted protector of the marginalized.
* David Livingstone
Recent stories

A Poem by Jenny to her Dad

Shared by Douglas Gwinn on March 30, 2019

to my dad

you gave me your brown eyes and my brown hair.you called me your doll babe whenever you picked up the phone to talk to me.
you're the reason I have a campfire in my front yard and a skylight over my baby's bed.
you taught me that Jesus isn't a crutch, he's the whole hospital.
I got my first speeding ticket driving your convertible.
you taught me to laugh at myself.
I learned to whistle just like you and when I do, my kids come just like I did for you.
you're the reason I love to eat out at least once a day, preferably twice if possible.
you taught me to pull the weeds in my yard and the weeds in my life, before they got out of control.
you're the reason I know 299 camp songs and am teaching them to my kids.
remember " 'Wissahickon'? what a funny name!"
you must of played tennis with me a hundred times and I never did win a set from you until you were 68 years old.
you bought me my first Subaru and my first golden retriever
and you said sending her to heaven was the hardest thing you ever did.
you took that pain for me.
you and I always wanted to climb Mount Whitney together—How 'bout on the New Earth?
you always washed my car when I visited you, any visitors car, because you had a servants heart.
you taught me "He is Risen, He is Risen indeed" ..... how was the buffet your first Easter in Heaven?
you're the reason I can't drive through a tunnel without honking.
you put me on your shoulders so many times and we looked for "potholes" in all those swimming pools over the years.
and your Halloween boogey-man with the trenchcoat—outside in the dark—you'd stagger and moan with the flashlight smashed under your contorted face.
your silliness will never be duplicated.
you had a father who you didn't dare ask for a nickel.
yet you became a dad who gave me everything.
but most especially you showed me Jesus' love and taught me that heaven is our forever home.
i can't wait to play with you there
and we'll talk and love again.
Jenny (Gwinn) De Frates  Colorado  August 2009

Excerpts from Chuck Swindoll's Address at the Memorial Service in Mount Hermon May 12, 2009

Shared by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019

[Prayer] Thank you for loaning (Bill) to us for just a little while, not long enough for us but long enough for You, and we bow before Your sovereignty now, in removing him from us.

Shortly before his death in 1834, Samuel Taylor Coleridge took the time to write a piece that never really got much press. It was titled Youth and Age. In that little book he wrote, “Nought cared this body for wind or weather when youth and I lived in't together.” But I think the best line is the small statement in only a few words, five of them, toward the end of the book…. “Friendship is a sheltering tree."
You can’t think of Mount Hermon without thinking of trees and you can’t walk among these trees without realizing how they shelter all of us. The blast of wind is broken by the presence of this forest of trees. The hot rays of the sun cooled by the sprawling limbs and leaves of the trees.
Friendship is like a sheltering tree. Isn’t it? We stop and think about it… all the way through the Bible we find individuals sheltered by the tree of another life. It was Joshua who found great encouragement under the sheltering tree of Moses. And it was the older Elijah who was sheltered by the presence of Elisha the prophet. David, when he was hunted and haunted by King Saul for a dozen or so years, found himself sheltered by the tree of Jonathan.
Even our long-time friend Paul had a grove of trees – when you stop to think of his life – there was a physician named Luke who was there with him to the end. There was a traveling companion named Barnabas and another named Silas, then of course, that unusual name inserted in Paul’s last letter, Onesimus…. “who oft refreshed me and he wasn’t ashamed of my chains.” Unknown to us but not forgotten by Paul were those who refreshed him. Even our Savior at the little hamlet of Bethany enjoyed the friendship of Martha and Mary, and their brother Lazarus. In unguarded moments, He could kick his sandals off, relax, and be refreshed under the sheltering tree of that family of those two sisters and their brother.
A little over a hundred years after Coleridge wrote his piece, Carl Sandberg finished his massive four-volume work on Lincoln in the war years. And when he got to the next to the last chapter of the fourth volume, which is the chapter covering that very delicate subject of those days following Lincoln’s assassination, he was at a loss to know what title to choose. He selected an old woodsman’s proverb for the title of that 75th chapter, “A Tree is Best Measured When It’s Down.”
For 37 years I enjoyed the sheltering tree of Bill Gwinn. For a number of you it was many years longer than that, but I will tell you without hesitation that he is one of those men who has marked my life and I am honored beyond words to be asked to speak today. I spend my life surprised, and this is another of those surprises, that the Gwinn Family would ask me – of all the people they could have asked – to stand here today and speak about the man who sheltered us so many ways.
I’m looking into the face of a wife who knew the love of this man for almost six decades, imagine that! And I can’t imagine how lonely you must feel, I really can’t, I just have to tell you. Cynthia and I have thought of you hundreds of times. And for the first time you go to bed alone, and for the first time you enter a home alone.
The tree is down. And now these four children – grown admittedly and have their own families – but for the first time in their lives they are fatherless. I’ll never forget when my father died – and please allow me a little bit of time to go through some of this – it’s all part of what I think the Lord would have us hear. For the first time in my life I felt orphaned. And I feel there’s a little of that in these four children. And the best part of today were the tears of Karianne… I loved the fact that you just couldn’t do all the song. There’s a great beauty in that… it may not make for great concert work but it makes for magnificent authenticity. We all melt with tears. It’s because the tree is down…. 
So my task today is to measure the tree. We couldn’t measure it while it was standing, but now that it is fallen we can look it over. The leaves are withered, the branches are now gone from our sight. This great massive trunk of a life knows enormous roots; they’re now there for us to look at. And I thank God for imagination, we can do that together, and we must. Though the tree, 79 years old when it fell, a little after 3 o’clock on that fateful Friday afternoon in April. April 17. None of us was ready for it… and it fell. So we come today to mourn his passing and also to celebrate his homegoing (Chuck reached up toward heaven in saying this).
It may be of interest to you that when Bill got to the bottom of the barrel and invited me to come to Mount Hermon (my first time), I know he had gone through his lists several times and they all had said “no.” We stayed at Ellenrock, which used to be back here (he pointed behind the auditorium). Leaned a little (he laughed)… The wind didn’t blow around it, it blew through it. And so it was a cold June day in 1972. Our youngest had just turned two. His older sister, Colleen, turned five just before we got here. Carisa was then only eight. Our oldest, Curt, was ten.
When I called Curt to tell him that the tree had fallen there was a long pause on the phone. He said, “Dad, do you know my first memory of Bill Gwinn?” I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “We were at that crummy little cabin back behind the auditorium.” He said it was cold… you had just tucked Chuck in the crib and we heard this knock at the door – it was pouring down rain and the wind was blowing. I opened the door and here stood a man with an arm-full of firewood in a driving rain. And the rain was dripping off his nose and he kept going “whew”, “whew” (Chuck demonstrated by blowing air from his mouth across his nose) to get the rain. He said, “You Swindolls must be freezing your butts off in there.” “That was the opening line that I remember,” said Curt. (and we are). I told him to come in… I had no idea who he was, we had never met. And he came in and he lit the fire and stayed there till it got going and he did that every day of our seven days at camp. Curt says, “That’s Bill Gwinn.” It is Bill Gwinn.
A servant at heart never once called himself anything significant when he was with us. He was a servant, a friend, a sheltering tree.
Bill put up with a lot from us but did we have fun ??? He put the fun back into the faith (Chuck described the hilarious episode of the pancake throwing in the auditorium)….
But when you come back to Mount Hermon, you are coming back home…. Bill set the stage for what a camp ought to be and my prayer is that it will never get sophisticated….
So we’ve come to the reality as Joshua had to come. He heard the words, “Moses, my servant is dead.” Bill Gwinn is dead. He is dead. We will never see him on this earth again.
So what can we say that will be for us worth remembering? I decided to turn to the words of a man who was as close to death as anyone – and knew it – when he took up his stylus to write his last memoirs. Paul’s words in 2nd Timothy. His tree hadn’t fallen but it was leaning and the sheltering of his life was just about done. He’s filled with memories. And he writes to his friend and he says in 2nd Timothy 4:6, “The time of my departure has come. And then he looks back and there are like three short bursts, like little staccato notes on the score. “I have fought the good fight.” Literally, it reads, “the good struggle, I have struggled.” The word rendered “struggled” is the word from which we get our word, “agony.”
Let’s be candid with one another, Bill was not a perfect man. This is not a day to rehearse scars and failures, but he had them, as we all do…. there were heartbreaking, painful times, as is true of every one of us… and this is what made the tree magnificent. Like a gnarled old tree near the beach with the roots twisted and turned… my Mother used to say, “The roots grow deep when the winds are strong.” And with all the struggles, Bill’s roots went deep. He had fought the good fight. I admire him and I admire you, Colette, and I admire each one of you his children for hanging in there with him through the struggles. You know him better than anyone. Bill had his crucibles and his agonizing moments. But he fought them.
“I have fought the good fight,” and then with the struggles passed he says, “I have finished the course.” The course that began way back at his years at seminary, including Lake Avenue. There was a wonderful story I heard just this morning, the two men who came from Mount Hermon to talk with Bill about becoming a part of this team. Bill had dreamed of them the night before… isn’t that amazing? And just as he had dreamed, they said “We’d like you to consider being at Mount Hermon.” Bill said, “Wait a minute, I gotta sit down, I just last night dreamed this.” And Bill wasn’t one for dreams and all that jazz… he just had that dream and it was sort of verified. So he came… 1957 and on through 1978, and then on to areas of ministry that others of you have had your lives touched by him: Whittier, Outdoor Resorts and other places.
And then Paul says, “I have kept the faith.” That may be the best part of all. I fought the fight, I finished the course but all the way through I never ditched the faith. I kept it, I stayed true to it.
I never once could call Bill Gwinn and talk with him without having my faith deepened. Never once was there not a word of affirmation or an encouragement. You can’t say that about too many people. He not only kept the faith, he kept it strong for others.
So that course he ran with zeal and passion and joy, and that faith he kept… and here’s the current testimony, listen to what’s happened, because we weren’t there to see it. “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge will award me on that Day.” So along with all the other great delights where he is, is the reward in words now, and later when they are given – in a crown. The crown for what? Fighting the fight, finishing the course, keeping the faith. I love the end, I just saw this in a new way… “and He will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever.”
Guess what the next word is? “Amen.” Amen? Doesn’t mean I’m through, but it does say “Amen.” And so we go on with our lives, we go on with the struggles, and every person in this room has them. How we love at times to rehearse them. The struggles are there, they will stay there, that’s part of being on this old earth. That’s why we need trees, called “friends” who shelter us. That’s why it’s invaluable to measure the tree when it’s down. And as we do that we remember that he has come to that magnificent heavenly reward.
I failed to mention one thing and I can’t end without mentioning it. Once the tree fell we were able to see what was carved on the trunk. “Bill loves Colette.” And on the other side if you could push it over, “Bill loves Melissa, Doug, Casey, and Jenny.”
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” Now that’s Bill. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, so shall we ever be with the Lord.” And the next verse we often forget… “Comfort one another with these words.” Comfort one another with these words. You kids, comfort your mother with these words. Colette, comfort the grandchildren with these words. We will forever be with the Lord. Comfort them with those words. We’ll be home at last. - Chuck Swindoll

"Lord, Why Not Tonight?" Faith to Move a Mountain by Jim, Doug, and Casey Gwinn

Shared by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019

   One of Bill Gwinn's great dreams after he arrived at Mount Hermon in 1957 was to see Mount Hermon Road closed so that 16,000 cars and trucks per day would not be barreling through the conference center, destroying the peace and tranquility. He traveled to the state capitol seeking support in 1958, advocated for a legal injunction against the sand and gravel trucks in 1959, and built a pedestrian Overpass in 1965 to provide safety and security for staff and visitors. Most of all, he challenged everyone to pray that God would close the road.

   Finally, in the winter of 1968, a series of major storms and slides began to close the road again and again, near the sand and gravel plant. One night, in the spring of 1969 as a heavy rain was falling, Bill prayed, "Lord, why not tonight?" That night, eight inches of rain fell on Mount Hermon. The next morning, Bill walked down to the slide area and the road was nowhere to be seen. A mountain of earth had buried the road.
   Bill said, "I was absolutely ecstatic ... there were trees, underbrush, telephone poles, chunks of asphalt and dirt everywhere. The pavement was fractured. In one area, the road had dropped two feet and in another had risen five feet. The solitude of an impassible and irreparable road was a testimony to God's desire that Mount Hermon would now be free of the noise and danger." Bill gave all the credit to God, "God did it His way!"
   Santa Cruz County ceased their aggressive and expensive maintenance efforts on the road and abandoned the "Mount Hermon slide." With the leadership of Bill Gwinn and assistance from the local congressman, a new and better road was built around Mount Hermon to serve the San Lorenzo Valley. 
   In 1976, holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom was visiting Mount Hermon and Bill Gwinn gave her a tour. As Bill relates the story, "Corrie loved the flowers and she thought Ponderosa Lodge was impressive, yet she took only one photograph that day. As we walked over to the slide area, I told her the story of the road, the rain and what happened that night after praying for years and years. Corrie pulled out her camera and snapped a shot. 'Why are you taking a picture?' I asked."
   "Because God did it!"
   God's fingerprints are all over Mount Hermon. But one of the most visible of His prints is that road with the sign that says "Closed." The massive chunk of land that rose up and divided the pavement; the mountainside that slid down and covered it and the rains that washed it away — are definitive witness to the power of God to move mountains when our faith calls on His Holy Name. Broken pieces of asphalt can still be found as far as 300 yards below where the road once was. Go anywhere in Mount Hermon today (not just the slide area) and if you are tuned in to your Creator and look with the eyes of faith in Christ, you are bound to see the Hand of God yet at work and mountains still on the move. Could it be that since 1969, the voice of the Lord can more readily be heard on these sacred grounds? "If you leave God's paths and go astray, you will hear a Voice behind you say, 'No, this is the way; walk here.' "