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!
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette,
Whenever the topic of "the most influential people in your life" is brought to our minds, both Fred and I immediately recall the years we spent with Bill and his family. For me it started at Lake Avenue Church and for us it was all of the Mount Hermon years, starting the summer of 1958. Bill had an amazing capacity to be both friend and boss, to be a mentor and an equal, to be a giver and a recipient, to love and to challenge, to set the bar of expectation very high and yet to be understanding and forgiving. He gave to me the privilege of being trusted enough to work for him in my very formative high school and college years. Bill gave to Fred the amazing opportunity to serve with him and under his leadership in the ministry at Mount Hermon. We will always be thankful for our dear friends, Bill and Colette Gwinn.
It was a great privilege to go to the memorial service for Bill. Every part of the time was a wonderful tribute to him, to you, Colette, and to your family. It was an enormous opportunity to take a "walk down memory lane" and to give thanks to our God for His goodness in our lives. We pray that you feel greatly loved and supported by everyone who has appreciated both you and Bill for so many years, including Fred and I. May our God strengthen you.
Fred & Marilyn Miller Mount Hermon, California May, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette,
Through Jenny and our Sandy we were made aware of the sad news of your great loss.
We can't believe that Bill is gone! What a marvelous thing we have in the assurance of the Resurrection through our Jesus!
Our remembrances of Bill are all of respect and appreciation. In so many ways he was my mentor. It was a privilege to serve with him and to share his vision at Mount Hermon.
With our love to you and the children,
Dick and Barbara Dosker Mount Hermon, California May, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
As a senior in high school I met Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. Someone suggested that I apply to Mount Hermon for a summer job. I thought busboy or maintenance would be a good spot for me. Instead they assigned me to day camp working with first through third graders and named me FLUFFY. That was a little hard on a guy that played tight end in football. But it became the greatest summer of my life, up to that point. It was so life changing and life transforming that I came back three more summers and all those were spent in day camp.
During my times at Mount Hermon I met Bill Gwinn, the director. What a Godly man! I remember his kind and encouraging words and how he would take time during a busy week to greet me and see how things were going. He was one of the first ones to see that God could use my sense of humor for His glory and encouraged me in that area.
Twenty plus years after my time at Mount Hermon I ran into Bill at a mall in Southern California and he remembered me. We talked and I was again moved by his passion and love for Jesus Christ.
In life God brings people into your life to sharpen, encourage and inspire you. Bill Gwinn was one of those men in my life. His passing gives me one more reason to look forward to being in heaven.
Greg Speck Illinois September 15, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
My whole Mount Hermon experience as a child and young adult was surrounded by Bill's humor, friendship and love.
I remember Staff Nights when Bill would do crazy skits without hesitation. I very well remember the Staff Night when Bill and staff wore flippers and a mask.
Bill always had a hug for me when I was a waitress or Ivy Dining Room Hostess. His smile was encouraging and comforting when guests were keeping us busy. I loved my time with your family and consider Bill a huge influence on my life!!!
Cindi Rhodes May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Melissa,
Here are some memories of Bill Gwinn that stand out in my mind:
Whenever Bill talked with anyone while walking on the grounds around Mount Hermon, he would bend down and pick up any garbage. He never asked you to join him in picking up the garbage, but just being with him and seeing him do that caused you to do the same. Forty-two years later I am still picking garbage up off the ground wherever the LORD places me.
Bill always gave a person full eye-contact when he was speaking with them or they with him. I so appreciated that he was really listening. This is something I find to be so necessary as a believer . . . sincerity in listening.
His laugh: Bill's hardy, "full-of-life" laugh was wonderful! His eyes would sparkle, his smile would be wide across his face and the zest of his laughter would be contagious.
Words: Oh, now here was an area of excellence. Bill never compromised or watered down his words or their meaning. When he was giving a testimony for the LORD he spoke with zeal. He wanted GOD to not be short-changed on getting the glory due HIM. I so appreciated the times he gave devotionals at staff meetings. He knew this was serious business to worship the LORD through the teaching of HIS Holy Word.
Sunday night staff sings at the Gwinn home: Wow, those were wonderful! That was so kind of your parents to open their home and pack it wall to wall with summer staffers after the dishes were done in the pit, and allow us that taste of fellowship in a real home setting!! Because a hymn sing is a rare event these days, it makes those times, those memories, even more special.
Prayer: Bill Gwinn was a man of prayer! How thankful I am that he didn't start a meeting, a sing, a fun time without a word of prayer. Everything was to be given to the LORD: work time, fun time, quiet time, all were to be given to the LORD.
Work ethics: Bill always exhorted us to do our best at all times as unto the LORD. Honesty, integrity, and courage in everything we did were to be given as service unto the LORD.
It was my joy to have served under his leadership and to count him as a friend and brother in Christ. It was also a joy to spend time with you during those summers, Melissa, and to now be your friend and sister in the LORD.
By God's grace & mercy may we all finish well,
Bonnie (Henderson) Copland October 20, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
God bless all of you in the Gwinn family! Roger Reynolds, who was my Mount Hermon staff roommate in the summer of 1968, and I were planning to drive up together to the Memorial Service next Tuesday, but both of us are unable. As for me, I'm a pastor and will be ministering at a church member's funeral that same day in Dinuba, 200 miles from Mount Hermon. Roger Reynolds lives about 30 miles from me.
Because of my inability to attend next Tuesday, I'm writing this email.
I wanted you to know that your husband and father told us on the summer staff back in '68 to carry pocket New Testaments at all times. I went to the Mount Hermon bookstore and purchased one, and I've always carried it with me since then (I've gone through 5-6 different ones). I've used my pocket NT hundreds of times, witnessing to people, as well as reading Scriptures to people in hospitals, on their deathbeds, etc.
Bill also told us to carry a tiny bottle of Binaca breath drops, and I've always had that in my front pocket. It's there right now! Good advice!
I also remember seeing Bill walking across the grounds at Mount Hermon and going out of his way to pick up a gum wrapper, a piece of a candy bar, or a Styrofoam cup that someone had discarded, and then he'd put it in a trash can. I was impressed with that. Many times since then, I've seen gum wrappers, etc, on the church grounds and thought to myself, "Am I going to pick that up, or should I let the custodians take care of that?" And then I think, "Bill Gwinn would pick that up, so it's not beneath my dignity to do it!" I've been a pastor for 33 years, and I've picked up many pieces of trash on our church grounds — and I've always thought of him while doing so.
He wrote recommendation letters for me to attend Seattle Pacific College and Fuller Seminary, and I was deeply grateful that he took the time to do that. I've written many similar recommendation letters for students in the churches I've served, and often I've thought of how I was being a blessing to some young person, just as Bill had been to me.
A few years ago someone told me he had seen Bill, told him he knew me, and that Bill wanted me to visit him. But because of the distance, that didn't happen. I'm happy he remembered me, and I look forward to visiting with him in heaven.
I thank God for Bill and pray for you in your sorrow.
Warmly in Christ,
Tom Carter May 9, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Gwinn Family,
We do have fond memories of Bill Gwinn. He taught us never to walk past a piece of garbage. No one was too important to be above a menial task. We also learned not to walk behind him, as we might run into him as he stopped to pick up a piece of trash. When questioned about "should women wear make-up" his response was classic: "If a barn needs paint, paint it!"
When we were on summer staff, we were caught in the throws of a water balloon fight on dorm hill; rather than scolding us, he grabbed a hose.
The first day I stepped on the grounds of Mount Hermon as a Summer Staffer in 1975, Bill spoke a personal greeting to me by name.
Bill Gwinn was fun loving, and yet at the same time had a dignity that commanded respect. He always seemed to have time for you — as if you were the only one on his mind.
Bill cared for and honored both people and place and in doing so, honored His Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.
Love, Randy & Linda Kay Felton, California
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Casey,
It is Jonathan Jones (JJ) from Summer Staff 1973-75. I was shocked and saddened to get the message of your Dad's passing. I was privileged though to run into your Mom and Dad last July at Family Camp. I was with my wife at the snack table after the morning session and I turned around and there they were! We had a great catch up and time of sharing. As I introduced your folks to my wife I told her that your Dad had the vision for Mount Hermon's expansion (to other campus's) 30 years before they actually did it. Your Dad was a man of God and a man of vision 30 years ahead of his time! He was a huge influence in my life and I have the fondest memories of him and our times together at your house.
I have booked my flight and I'll be there on May 12. I am looking forward to seeing you and the family and celebrating your amazing father's life. God bless you and the family.
Jonathan Jones April 29, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
It was Christmas Eve 1972. I was a young boy, my father having left our family and Mom was raising six kids by herself.
Suddenly, there were bells jingling on our roof and Santa Claus was at the door bearing many gifts. I will never forget it! Santa was Bill and his elves were Doug & Casey. They gave us their Hot Wheels among other things as Christmas presents. It may just be my best Christmas memory as a child. What a servant Bill Gwinn was!!!
Mark & Mary Lilley Arlyss Lilley May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette,
I am so sorry I am not going to be able to be at Bill’s Memorial Service at Mount Hermon, and I wanted to write you and relate to you how much Bill means to me. You know that I came to Mount Hermon in 1967 as an Intern and the main reason I wanted to come was to work with Bill and Dick Dosker. I was so blessed to be able to get my start under those two men. Bill had unusual vision from God and it was my privilege to watch him develop places like Azalea Lodge, Ponderosa Lodge and the Administration/Program Offices. I was always impressed as he worked through the philosophy and the logistics in developing projects like these. He led Mount Hermon through a pivotal period of growth that was the foundation for what is taking place here today.
Another area that impressed me was Bill’s keen sense of what needed to happen in program and ministry. I listened to him several times as he shared with new summer staff the vision that he shaped for Mount Hermon’s ministry. He was the main architect of the Couples Conferences and the Family Camps which were standard bearers for all of Christian Camping, both in this country and abroad. It has been expanded on but Bill brought it into being in my mind.
Obviously the program that impacted me the most was Ponderosa Lodge. He was my mentor and teacher as this project took shape. When I first talked to him about Ponderosa he shared how the facility was being developed around a philosophy of ministry, the counselor-centered ministry; not the philosophy around the facility. In other words, Bill had a specific ministry concept that he wanted to use with High School students, the counselor-centered ministry, and he wanted to develop a Camp that would help counselors minister to them as whole persons. Since the Lodge was a central facility, it made it easy for the counselors to find their students and spend time with them and get to know them and minister to their needs. It was genius! I was privileged to watch it in successful operation and I always comment on Bill’s vision when people asked why we built Ponderosa the way we did.
Another area that I loved about Bill was his sense of humor. His timing and upfront delivery was something that always impressed me. He could laugh at himself and make it okay for us to laugh at ourselves. I remember playing golf with him at Pasatiempo a few times and he would always walk up to my ball and “unknowingly” step on it and drive it into the dirt so it was impossible to play. He would then look at the ball and say “Was that your ball? I am so sorry!” and then just crack up. Or he would pick apples off a tree on the course and chip them into me as I was lining up a shot and then again ask “Are you getting ready to play? I am so sorry,” and again bust up laughing.
He was warm and drew people in. When I go recruiting so many people still ask about Bill. He made a lasting impression. He was my teacher, my mentor and a friend who pointed me to Jesus. I loved him and I will sorely miss him. I appreciated the way you shared him with so many people, Colette. My prayer is that you will sense that God is working in unusual and loving ways in your life in Bill’s absence.
As Bill would say, “Warmly in Christ,”
Ron Demolar April 29, 2009 (the above letter from Ron was among the most touching to my Mom)
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Hi Jenny,
Thanks for writing to me.... Yes, I was on summer staff four years, '69 to '72.
I have such fond memories of Bill; he was such a great guy, full of vision, passion and humor. He took a real interest in me (and all the other summer staffers).
I was there the summer Bill's vision of Ponderosa Lodge became reality. I was also there the summer his dream of a permanent closure of Mount Hermon road was fulfilled. I mentioned to Melissa I would have never met my wife Diane had not Bill intervened to get me back up there. After two summers there, my third year application was declined due to the policy of having a certain amount of turnover and "new blood" each summer.
A few weeks after getting the notice, as I was walking out of the men's restroom at the Century movie theater in San Jose, I was startled to have a full bag of popcorn slammed into my chest! I looked up to see Bill's smiling face asking "Jimmy how are you?" We chatted for a few minutes and when I let him know I wouldn't be seeing him that summer he said "let me see what I can do about that!" Sure enough, a few weeks later I got a job offer!
Without that "chance" meeting, I would have never met my future wife Diane who was also on summer staff. We first started talking at a staff social sponsored by Bill and held in his backyard ! Years later after we married and had our own kids, we started going to Mount Hermon family camps where I would sometimes play bass guitar. Over the years I've played in worship bands (Dave Burns) and summer concerts (Jack Pearson, John Fischer) dozens of times. Lots of memories in that auditorium ...
I often think how differently things would have turned out had Bill not taken some special interest in me !!!
Jim Holwerda May 24, 2009
[Note by Doug: I remember Jim playing the bass guitar at John Fischer's 1974 summer concert! The best concert ever at Mount Hermon! Thanks Jim!]
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
One of the best gifts I ever received was a pocket New Testament signed by Bill after I served as music director at Ponderosa Lodge in 1971. I really appreciated his vision and energy.
Dan Verinsky May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Upon joining "staff" in 1975, Bill would stop by my office, pull up a chair opposite me and inquire about my family and how I was doing. He often thanked me for my service at Mount Hermon. I so much appreciated Bill's kindness, concern and encouragement — as well as his leadership. I ALWAYS looked forward to seeing Bill — even in recent years as he and Colette passed through. He was indeed an inspiration to both Sharri and me.
Bill & Sharri Cree  May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Bill,
I thank my God for my every remembrance of you. You were my encourager as a young man at Mount Hermon. You loved me, approved me, exhorted me, and trusted me. Who could ask for more?
I treasure my memories of you passing the salad bowl among the campers at the old Redwood Bowl, collecting our quarters to help pay for your dream of Ponderosa. The pancakes at "Poison Oak Ridge" where the camp was to be located ... you were a man of infectious vision — and we all broke out with it!
Your legacy of countless servants of the Living God ... and amazing train of soldiers helped onto the tracks by your godly enthusiasm ... stand out as fruit of a life lived full and overflowing.
But your greater legacy is your progeny who each and all love the Lord of your life. They speak unspeakable volumes to faithful and loving parents, Bill and Colette. And the Body of Christ wins — huge!
Melissa's sweet "shadow" all summer; Casey's strength of character before the Supervisors ... and the Lord moved mountains!
Bill, you mentored with your life, and I shall always be grateful. And it has been visited upon the 3rd generation ... I love your grandson Jonathan, a man of your mein.
Thank you for serving; thank you for shaping Mount Hermon. Thanks for the memories,
love, Don
Don Broesamle May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette,
When I think of Bill, I think of you too. One of my favorite memories are the Summer Staff Sunday Night Sings that you hosted for us at your home. Both of you were so welcoming and we always had fun enjoying ice cream sundaes and singing. Thank you for always opening up your home for summer staffers.
Barbara Bogaard Van Maanen May 12, 2009 
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Bill always had a smile. Thank you Bill for your dedication for helping make Mount Hermon what it is, a fingerprint indeed.
My Dad (Bob Watts) loved you like a brother!
Stephanie (Watts) Cross May 12, 2009
[Note by Doug: I enjoyed having Stephanie's brother Todd Watts in my cabins at both Redwood Camp and then at Ponderosa Lodge, same as I also had Chris Linn]
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette and family,
I'd like to share a tribute to your husband and Dad. Bill was one of my first real mentors – particularly in the area of leadership. I remain grateful for my years at Mount Hermon under his leadership and the lessons I learned and I rejoice with you because of his love for Christ and legacy in His service.
I remember his counsel to me when I was the Summer Staff Counselor at the Center in 1966: “Len, it is better to be ultimately respected than immediately popular.” That counsel was severely tested 2 days later at Staff Orientation.
Your Dad and I enjoyed a road trip together up to the Redding/Chico area to see some Mt. Hermon friends like the Stewarts (before they came on staff). It was probably in September, 1969, before I was married in October of that year. We also enjoyed many good Rook games, your Dad and Bill Thornburgh versus Fred Miller and myself. 
Blessings from God Most high as you put this online remembrance together, and as you live for His glory.
Len & Diana Sunukjian Santa Barbara, California May, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Bill was like a father to Summer Staffers at Mount Hermon! I served with him from 1967 to 1970. I'll never forget his exhortation to us the first night we were all together. He challenged me to serve Christ and really made it very significant and personal to me. I was never quite the same after that night, praise God!
Paul Wood May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
I first met Bill at Whitworth College in 1970. He was there looking for students to serve at Mount Hermon. I was selected to work at Redwood in '71 and then at Ponderosa Lodge in '72.
I can still see Bill driving around in that '71 Mustang convertible waving to everyone in Mount Hermon.
Later on I remember Bill introducing Corrie ten Boom as a speaker. He was so excited, and I was blessed to have known Bill. My acquaintance with him began a wonderful association for me with Mount Hermon. Bill loved life and people and most of all the Lord.
Tom & Sherry Babagian May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
More than anyone, Bill influenced my decision to attend seminary after Westmont. I was the "auditorium host" summers of '69 & '70 and Bill gave me a great deal of his time and really showed an interest in me and made me feel special. He was a big influence in my life and will remain as one of my "great cloud of witnesses" encouraging me to remain faithful to our Lord.
Paul Johnston May 12, 2009 
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
I worked on Summer Staff 1966-1968. Dear Bill Gwinn is synonymous with Mount Hermon! I worked later full time, 1989-2005, but I can say that Mount Hermon was not the same without Bill.
I'll never forget being summoned to his office while on summer staff because I had been out half an hour after curfew. My "date" and I came in & assumed we would get some severe penalty. On the contrary he "connected" with us. What a balance of leadership and relationship!!!
Bill led our summer staff with wonderful & amazing messages geared for living our future adult lives following Jesus Christ well.
Colleen J. (Wilson) Peterson May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
A Tribute to Bill Gwinn
In the 1960's, the Christian Reformed Bible Conference was enjoying its second decade of holding its annual conference at Mount Hermon. When Bill Gwinn learned in late winter of 1961 that this group was interested in beginning a high school camp, he not only enthusiastically supported the idea but gave an incredible amount of time in helping to develop plans for the first camp the following June. As a young and inexperienced director of what became known as Hi-Camp, Bill became an exceptionally helpful mentor. Matter of fact, during the actual week of that first camp, Bill would meet with me late at night after the students went to their cabins. We would debrief the day's events and talk about the plans for the next day. His observations and suggestions made all the difference in not only making that first camp a success but in establishing patterns that are still a part of Hi-Camp today, forty-nine years later. I will always be grateful to Bill for serving as my mentor and for his role in establishing an annual week of ministry at Mount Hermon in which so many youth have come to know the Lord Jesus and have had the opportunity to grow in their relationship with Him.
Pete Duyst Hi-Camp Director May 3, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
I have way too many wonderful memories of Bill (and your family) to share on one page.
From the first time I met Colette and Bill, I felt like family. I was going through a painful divorce and you took me in, a baby born again Christian, with my children, Brent and Kim. Bill played with them, as did Casey and Jenny. What a blessing! My children will never forget those times which helped us all through the pain.
Through the years, I have been mentored, befriended, and felt loved by Bill & Colette — my forever friends.
Judy Walters May 12, 2009
Note by Doug: Thank you Judy for being at Mount Miguel with Mom so much. I'm sure you were a major encouragement to her!
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
All the Miller family tributes are in this one.....
Dear Gwinn Family,
   Words can't describe what your family has meant to me. When Bill brought you to Whittier and he was our new pastor he immediately made me feel loved and special. I was a child at the time but he always remembered my name and had a hug and a smile for me.
   As time went on and we got to know him better he truly invested time in our family. He loved us through the hardest time our family has ever endured and showed us what "tough love" looked like. He truly "saved" our family and I will be eternally grateful for that.
   He then went on to marry Rick and me. He counseled us in the desert and I will always remember the many words of wisdom he shared with us. At the end of the day, however, it was Bill & Colette's example of a loving, Godly marriage that will stay with us forever.
   As we raise four children of our own we will often think of Bill and Colette and the faith that always made their marriage and family whole.
   Thank you for sharing your husband & your family with me and my family.
Sue (Miller) Underwood (member) Plymouth Church Whittier, California
Dear Colette and all the Gwinns,
I'm glad to be at Mount Hermon to honor Bill. What a beautiful place to remember him. Bill was such an important pastor / mentor / friend to all of us at Plymouth — including me at a formative time in my life. And he was such a crucial support for our family through some difficult times.
Bill shaped my understanding of Scripture and helped introduce me to the world of evangelical thought — including people like Francis Schaeffer. With Bill's help, I came to see that our faith could be intellectually engaging — and fun. I always loved the way Bill could be both serious and playful.
Bill came to Whittier at an important time in my life and showed me what it means to follow Jesus with integrity and a smile. I often thank God for him.
A memory? He was kind to me when I busted your boat on a rock at Lake Mead.
I'll always remember his smile, such as when he hit a crafty volley and he & Casey beat me & my dad in one of our epic doubles matches. I hope to play another someday.
Ken Miller (member) Plymouth Church Whittier, California May 12, 2009
Anything I write can't express the sadness I feel for you and the world. It is definitely a better place because your dad truly LIVED. The ups and downs made his words and actions so incredibly genuine. He was a rock for my family and me when the world seemed like sand.
I truly believe God places people on our hearts when He wants us to pray for them. On Thursday, when I assume your dad was going through the small heart-attacks, my sister (Sue) and I were talking about your dad and how his pre-marital counseling for us was so helpful and wise. We also reminisced about days at Plymouth with all of you. Though we didn't exactly stop and formally pray, he was in our thoughts with gratitude and love. Had we known, we most certainly would have fervently prayed... I guess now, it's not him, but everyone else who can use the prayers... especially you and your family.
Please know that my prayers are and will continue to be with you. It's hard for me to accept his passing... I can't begin to imagine what you're going through. But know that you're loved... and I pray that God's peace that passes all human understanding will comfort your heart that hurts so badly right now.
I'm not trying to make light of the subject by mentioning this, but yesterday I was at a Dodgers game, celebrating my son's 14th B-day. I can't begin to count all the games I've been to, easily over 200... And in all that time, I have never, ever had a foul-ball hit to me, until yesterday. Call it divine providence, or maybe it was your old pop who whispered in an angel's ear... (as your dad's been known to do)... to make that ball bounce our way... Who knows? But from now on, whenever I see that ball, thoughts of your dad will not be far away.
With all of that said, I do plan to do my best to come to Mt. Hermon and celebrate your dad, a truly great man. There are a few logistics that have to be worked out, but I will be there if at all possible.
Take care and may God bless you with beautiful memories as your dad will always be alive in Heaven and in the many hearts who loved him.
Love to you, too.
Barb (Miller) Dingman (member) Plymouth Church Whittier, California April 19, 2009
One of many favorite memories was when Bill visited Brett & me and our newborn, Michael. He stopped by our house in Camarillo shortly before a trustee meeting @ Westmont College in May, 1995.
Michael was born April 19, 1995. During Bill's visit, he held Michael close to his face and smiled. Michael, in return, smiled back to Bill. It was Michael's first smile and I have a picture of them smiling together. I'll cherish it forever.
Bill was pastor at Plymouth Congregational Church during my formative years of growing up.
He helped my Miller family weather storms we didn't think we'd survive. He encouraged me to go to Westmont. He visited me at my dorm when I attended Westmont. He counselled Brett & me prior to our marriage in 1991 & warned us that when he "ties knots, the knots don't slip." How true. He married Brett and me almost 18 years ago and we're tighter than ever.
Thank you Colette, for being such a wonderful role model of a wife who supports and cherishes her husband. You are an inspiration. I love you & you're in my prayers.
Barb (Miller) Dingman (member) Plymouth Church May 12, 2009
I hope and pray God is continuing to sustain you with peace, comfort, and strength. I'm sure you'll never get over the pain of missing him... but I suppose that'll make the ultimate reunion all the sweeter. You and your family did a beautiful job with the tribute to him. It truly was a little taste of heaven.
Blessings to you. Love, Barb September 29, 2009
[Note by Doug: Barb becomes the person here who submitted three remembrances and thoughts. Thank you Barb! And may I thank so many Plymouth people who came to Mount Hermon for the memorial service. You loved our Dad and I love you too!]
What impressed me most about Bill was his love for people and especially all the youth of the church. He knew all their names and was genuinely interested in their activities. I remember him showing up at some of Barb and Sue's games and cheering them on. The family camps he organized really brought the Plymouth family together.
I remember Bill saying he'd never put a Christian bumper sticker on his car because he didn't want Christ's name to be tarnished by his driving.
Mollie Miller May 12, 2009
Tennis matches with Casey, Bill, Ken and myself often lasting until fatigue prevailed at 16 to 15!
Bill's infectious laughter that raised everyone's spirit's, whether at Plymouth or Westmont.
Bill played a big role in all our lives but we especially appreciate the many miles he travelled to marry two of our daughters.
Ed Miller (member) Plymouth Church May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Back in 1982 I started out a letter with that same word, and explained that I was looking for a place to do a youth ministry internship. Your dad really liked the "Howdy!" and that was the start of our working together for the next 5 years. I remember that first summer that I worked with him. We clicked right away. His humor was contagious. When I graduated, it seemed like a natural next thing for us to work together. I couldn't imagine working anywhere else with anyone else.
So many programs and emphasis in my ministry that I do to this day were born under his leadership there at Plymouth Congregational Church. As a young pastor starting out, you couldn't ask for a better senior pastor to work under. He always had my back. I remember after sinking the church bus down in Baja Mexico (up to the headlights anyway — we did pull it out!) your dad ran interference for me with the church council. I think he saved my job more than once. And even when I deserved a good reprimand, your dad was always gracious and kind with me, never embarrassing me or making me feel incompetent.
More than anything, I felt like I was in ministry with a friend. He was so good to Laurie and I. I remember pre-marital counseling sessions in the hot tub in the backyard!! Where else but California??
Now that I'm a senior pastor, I try and give my youth pastor the same kind of gracious support that Bill gave me. It's "payback" for all the grace that Pastor Bill gave me!! I can't believe how forgiving and patient he was. I believe a youth pastor could have not had a finer senior pastor to work under. He was my friend, my mentor and companion.
Scott Hesler Potomac Baptist Church, Potomac Falls, Virginia
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette,
Reid and I had just recently chuckled over Bill's advice to Stacy at her wedding to Matt Myers almost 17 years ago.... "One good turn gets all the covers."
Our family really appreciated your ministry and family at Plymouth Church. What a day of rejoicing it will be when we all meet up once again in heaven!!!
Much love,
Leslie and Reid Pressley (members, Plymouth Church)
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Pastor Bill baptized me and my brother Cory when we were in Junior High and brought entire family into the Plymouth family as members.
I just enjoyed that Pastor Bill was so real and approachable, just love all that he did for my entire family, the Bakers (Jim & Lindy). Thank you for sharing Pastor Bill with us.
Wendy Maeda (member) Plymouth Church Whittier, California May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
We have been happily married for over 27 years, and we give a lot of the credit to Pastor Bill and the excellent pre-marital counseling he gave us!! We benefited from his advice but especially from a drawing he made and showed us. It's a triangle with God at the top, Kevin on the bottom left and me on the bottom right. Bill said that the closer we each grow to God, the closer we would grow to each other! Nothing could be more true!
Kevin & Jan Hussey (member) Plymouth Church Whittier, California May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Gwinns,
Our years knowing Bill as pastor and friend were most rewarding. As a growing Christian, he offered much to me in his teachings. We looked forward to Sundays and to what Bill would share.
His smile and presence were encouraging to Bev and me. There were many laughs and fun times with Bill over the years we had him at Plymouth. Meeting all the family was to us, a blessing in that you reflected your love for God which was, and has been, contagious.
Our children are well and truly married because Bill officiated at all three ceremonies.
Bill gave my self-esteem a huge boost when he asked me to lead the worship service when all the Plymouth men were "advancing" (at camp). What an honor he bestowed on me.
Bev Linklater (member) Plymouth Church Whittier, California May 12, 2009 Jim & Bev Linklater (member) Plymouth Church Whittier, California May 12, 2009
[Note from Doug: I enjoyed so much seeing the entire Linklater family at Dad's memorial service, Todd, Kirk, Jan, Bev & Jim]
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Nancy and I are part of the "Plymouth Connection." My first memory of Bill was helping him in a "do-it-yourself" move into his & Colette's first Whittier home. He and I had to hoist a double mattress & springs into the second story apartment window!
We also have wonderful memories of many family camps that Bill brought to Plymouth. I'll always remember certain "Bill-isms" such as: "God is not a crutch, He's the whole hospital"... "a stance in advance" ... and, "an attitude of gratitude."
We will miss him!
Bob Stambaugh (member) Plymouth Church Whittier, California May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette and all of Bill's family,
Yesterday was truly a special celebration of Bill's life. And what a life! Bob, Mike and I were so thrilled to be present in the place Bill talked so much about and meant so much to him. It is truly beautiful and a perfect place to celebrate his graduation to an even more perfect place.
I have so many happy memories of Bill. It is hard to know where to begin. His ministry at Plymouth Church was so special and life changing for our family. He related to each one of us (especially Mike). Bill made God's Word so real and alive for me. His messages changed my life. In fact in Bill's own words "he knocked my socks off" with the truths he shared from God's Word. I am so thankful that our family had the privilege of being part of the huge circle of people touched by Bill.
love, Nancy
Nancy Stambaugh (member) Plymouth Church Whittier, California May 13, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
In the mid-80s Pastor Gwinn went with us to Lake Shasta to go houseboating. He and I were dropped off on a beachfront, perhaps an island, to stake our claim for our houseboat space. We sat there on the edge of the water rhyming for hours.... The poetry was hysterical and continued for many years thereafter.
I will always have a special bond with "Bill" and look forward to sharing poetry in heaven with him for ever and ever!
Mike Stambaugh (member, Plymouth Church) May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
On behalf of the entire Cichowitz family I want to express our sympathy on Bills homegoing. Bill will always remain as an amazing example of a man who stood strong and faithful in his faith.
Though your's and Bill's time in Buena Vista, Colorado was short, we shall always look back upon that time as significant in many ways. First of all, Bill was truly one of the few who understood the work and ministry of Noah's Ark. He understood the challenges and difficulties we faced in the field of Christian camping and working with people.
Bill gave us one of the most valued nuggets of wisdom received in our 27 years of ministry. He encouraged us to "guard our hearts" and take responsibility for our personal care and welfare. We believe God's grace has been evident in that counsel.
Bill's life was truly worthy of the Lord's welcome, "Well done good and faithful servant."
Always in Christ,
Chuck and Lindy Cichowitz Buena Vista, Colorado
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette,
Your short time with us at the First Baptist Church was such a huge, important, and special time. Bill taught us so much, I can't even begin to say it. The thing I keep reflecting on the most is he was a peacemaker & a giver of joy, as you are too.
We love you and pray for you in the many hard days that you will know that joy.
"Through Christ our comfort overflows." 2 Corinthians 1:5
Tom & Connie Smallwood Twin Lakes, Colorado
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
When we first moved to Mount Hermon in 1970, we rented one of the Douglas' cabins on the Zayante side of the park. We had a kitten who climbed way up in a tree and would not or could not come down. Walt was traveling and I didn't know what to do. So I called the Mount Hermon office to see if one of the custodial staff could come and help me. Who showed up in their Jeep (remember that Jeep?) but Bill Gwinn, Bill Thornburgh and Fred Miller. And Bill Gwinn climbed the tree and rescued the cat. I never forgot that!
Lynnette & Walt Maynes May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Bill was instrumental in leading two of our sons-in-law to the Lord and mentoring them in their Christian walk [Cliff Lindsay & Paul Wills]. We are so grateful to the Lord for these two men who were added to our family and grateful to Bill for letting God use him as an instrument and example to show Cliff and Paul "the way."
Ray & Sandy Bergen May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette,
When University Baptist Church started up in the early 1960s, we remember that Bill recommended Marvin Webster to us. Marv came and stayed as our first pastor for over 30 years.
Bill also gave the first message at UBC. He spoke many times over the years and they were memorable sermons. We especially and fondly remember an evening at your home in Mount Hermon. It was a lovely dinner and your wisteria plant had just begun to bloom so beautifully. We also well remember Bill's "hilarious" sense of humor.
Dale and Eg Long Members, University Baptist Church Santa Cruz, California May 12, 2009
[Note by Doug: I so much enjoyed chatting with Dr. & Mrs. Long at the memorial service. Wanted to say I enjoyed several times your kindness and hospitality when I came to your home for fellowship around the Person of Jesus Christ, Chris Ifland playing the guitar and leading us in worship. I loved when you gave me a copy of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" when I was in the hospital. God bless your whole family including Lori and Shari real good]
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Mount Hermon will always remind me of Bill. One of the most special times was walking to get my High School Diploma and he handing it to me and then giving me a huge hug. I will always be grateful to God for the great memories over the years being a "grounds kid."
Cay Ellen Campbell Thornley May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
I remember so many things about Bill. For sure the fun up at pancake ridge: a very large pancake with pine needles — simulating a hair piece of some (follically-challenged) guest speaker.
I also remember costumes galore for Staff Night with Bill leading the way. I do remember him as a people person and a Sunday school teacher as well. He meant a lot to me and my family. Tremendous asset to Mount Hermon.
Scott Shipley May 12, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
I have very happy memories. It was always a vacation with a purpose at Mount Hermon!
I remember auditorium singing, pancake breakfasts, big daddy splash contest at the pool, heavy traffic and sand trucks before God through Bill ended that. I loved being a camper at Redwood & Ponderosa Lodge camps, Victory Circle and campfires & great music with Howie Stevenson.
Being an adult and looking back, I'm so glad for Bill Gwinn and what he meant to Mount Hermon. He remembered the Gospel message and God blessed him for his obedience in a lifetime of Christian service and success. Bill was an example of a loving man, father, and husband.
I'm thankful that my daughters (Hannah 20, Rachel 18, and Alicia 16) have grown up having the Mount Hermon experience. It has enriched our lives. Any time we are at Mount Hermon, it is like "coming home." To God be the glory! It was a wonderful time of celebration!
Love & Sympathy to your family,
Sherrie Shipley May 12, 2009 P.S. Fran & Ship send their love and happy memories too.
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Doug,
Here are some thoughts about your dad....
Bill Gwinn was a terrific guy. He was the head of Mount Hermon while I was in jr high and high school and he had quite an influence on our family, especially thanks to his winsome personality. The way our family got to know him was that we had moved to the Santa Cruz mountain area in 1967 from Oklahoma. My father was a technical writer for the space industry and very brainy. We had spent my childhood moving around from space launch to space launch, and in each city my dad would first take us to the Baptist church and if he didn't like the minister's sermon, we would go to the Methodist church instead. We began attending University Baptist and my father LOVED the minister. He raved about the sermons, he thought the guy was GREAT and he got along well with him and was inspired. Dad said, "Wouldn't it be my luck if this guy is just about to move." As it turned out, it was Bill Gwinn filling in for the regular pastor who was on vacation. When the pastor returned, my Dad moaned. Turned out that the "fabulous minister" was actually none other than the head of Mount Hermon!!!
Who knew that within 2 years my father would pass away after a difficult illness at only age 36. Bill Gwinn ministered to our family and he officiated at my father's funeral service. It was incredibly comforting to us to have a strong, reliable, Christian like Mr. Gwinn speak for our father and our family. Both Mr. and Mrs. Gwinn were good to our mother.
The Gwinns took us to the Billy Graham Crusade many times as teenagers. We also went to Young Life with the Gwinn kids and I was in school with Doug — my older brother was in the same class as Melissa and my little sister was in Casey's grade. One year our Young Life gang of about 6 kids decided to play a fast one on Mr. Gwinn. We went over to the Gwinn house, creeping in the middle of the night (probably around 10:30pm) and we toilet papered their house to the nth degree. We had a wonderful time and we all went home and set our alarm clocks for 6am the next morning. We got up and crept back over to the Gwinn house at 6:00am and the joke was on US! The Gwinns must have been up watching us through the window the night before. They had cleaned up all of the toilet paper and there would be NO SHOW! We laughed and laughed because we knew we'd been had by Bill Gwinn.
What can you say about someone as wonderful as Mr. Gwinn? He was bigger than life, he had principles, and he was a great leader of people. He was a terrific Christian who I will fondly remember always. God Bless the Gwinn family.
Sherry Pevy Gillis Paradise, California February 22, 2010
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Bill was my first "boss", as I started teaching at SLV in 1970, being he was president of the school board. I very much looked up to him. Also, I want to thank him for providing me with the best point guard I ever coached. Thanks also to Colette as she may have had something to do with Casey, too!!!
Dave Mercer May 12, 2009 {Note by Doug: It was great to see Coach Mercer at the Memorial Service! Thanks, Dave}
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette,
We were saddened to hear of Bill's homegoing but celebrate his life and impact on so many of us at Lake Avenue. He asked a lot of us in our spiritual commitment, always conveying love, respect and understanding. Together you set the bar high, fulfilling the Psalmist's words from Psalm 71:17-18: "Since my youth, O God, You have taught me and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come" (we came).
We loved Bill's interest in us and thank God for a life well spent. We love you.
George and Danita Terzian (members, Lake Avenue Church)
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Colette,
Before you and Bill went to Mount Hermon, I babysat for Melissa and Doug. Your first summer at Mount Hermon I lived with you to help with the kids. It was a wonderful summer. Do you remember the chocolate cream pies you made to entertain the various speakers? Really good!
Billy Graham came to speak one week and through him I realized my need for Jesus. I spoke to Bill and the next morning he led me to accept Jesus. I've journeyed thru life with my awesome, ever present Lord Jesus.
I was saddened to hear of Bill's homegoing and the huge loss this is to you and your children. I pray there will be comfort in the many, many years of ministry together.
I have kept track of you and Bill through a mutual friend, Wayne Martin. There are a few others from your years at Lake Avenue who still attend. I am wondering if Doug attends Lake. If so it would be such a thrill to meet him.
Sometime when things are easier I would love to hear from you.
Bonnie and Arnie Welch (members, Lake Avenue Church) Pasadena, California
[Note from Doug: I had the pleasure of chatting with Bonnie in 2018 at Lake Avenue Church]
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Doug,
I got to know your Dad in his role as a long-time member of the Board of Trustees of Westmont College. We go way back—since I have been teaching at the College for 45 years! I wish that I had had opportunity to know him in other than this limited role. But I know that he was a respected and gracious member of the Board during the years when the College was transitioning to the top tier college it is today. What stands out in my memory of Bill is his friendliness to someone he really did not know all that well, because most of the time when we would chat, it would be when he was on campus for a Board meeting. Even if we only saw each other in passing or at graduation ceremonies, he would always give me a friendly greeting—even remembering my name! He struck me as a real person, a "regular guy," a man with no pretense. I shall always be grateful to the Lord for the faithful service he gave to the college for those many years.
Ron Enroth Westmont College September 23, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
Dear Gwinn Family,
At this moment I can’t say whether Helene and I can come to Mt. Hermon for the service. So I am going to go ahead and send our love and very best wishes to each of you in the Gwinn family.
The contribution that Bill made to the Kingdom goes beyond anything I could say. His ministry at Lake Avenue Church, Mount Hermon, Westmont College, and more recently in the Palm Springs area, has changed the lives of thousands of people.
For me personally it would be hard to overstate his blessing in my life, going back to those days when he was our youth minister at Lake Avenue and I was a leader in the college group. It was many years later I became linked with him again, as I became president of Westmont. Bill and Colette were role models among trustees and spouses. Colette provided real leadership among the spouses, and Bill along with John Jenks had a profound influence on the life experience of Westmont students for decades.
Dozens of experiences flood my memory as I think back to those years. There was no Westmont trustee more dedicated, enthusiastic, hard working, and visionary than Bill.
I am so thankful that he learned before he left us that his great dream of a Westmont Math & Science building has come to pass, for the Westmont board has determined to build a beautiful building that will honor the Lord, but also honor those who like Bill maintained the vision and hope which finally made it a reality.
If I am not able to be present please know I will be in prayer that this service will be a great inspiration to all those present to follow the role model of Bill Gwinn in their lives and service.
David Winter Westmont College April 23, 2009
Posted by Douglas Gwinn on April 1, 2019
We met Bill in 1961 when as a young couple from San Jose we carried our 6-week-old first born into the Mount Hermon auditorium to worship for the first time. We learned much from Bill's teaching. We suspected he was a fun person!
In the 80's we joined the Westmont Board of Trustees — a most serious and dedicated group. Bill welcomed me warmly and we shared many a laugh. I will never forget how, in the midst of some weighty matter, Bill would see something funny. I am so glad that he was able to find out that his long-wished for Chapel at Westmont would soon be built. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Bill Gwinn!
Cal & Phyllis Marble May 12, 2009
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