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