Westmont College’s 75th Anniversary Gala!

After six consecutive and unforgettable weeks on the road, I left town again for Southern California on October 26. The occasion this time was the 75th anniversary celebration of my alma mater, Westmont College, where it was amazing to be one of 75 alumni being honored.

Westmont College is located in the foothills of Santa Barbara and in the path of those notorious forest fires we hear about so often. 75 years of Westmont history include several fires―the most recent being the Tea Fire of 2008 which caused 15 million dollars in damage to the campus. So it was wonderful to see the campus restored and thriving and to celebrate God’s blessings to Westmont over the years. I was especially encouraged to hear the solid vision President Gayle Beebe described for the future. 

Here’s what made an already special evening extra-special for me:

Claudia Marcus Sinclair & Lara Custis Durrell

First, I loved spending time with two of my favorite people who attended the Gala with me―fellow-Oregonian, Claudia Marcus Sinclair who I’ve known since high school and my niece, Lara Custis Durrell, who had the good sense to be born on my birthday. Lara is a newlywed. (Her husband David is pictured below.) Some of you know I took my mother to Lara and David’s wedding in Texas in August, a little over a month after my dad died. It was a much-needed time of joy for both of us.

With Professor Robert H. Gundry

Second, just before dinner at the Gala, my favorite professor, Dr. Robert Gundry, walked across the ballroom to find me. If I were to name the people who have influenced me most, his name would be high on the list. Never will I forget his Bible classes or the impact his teaching had on me. He opened up a whole new layer of the Scriptures to me that ignited an insatiable appetite in me to keep digging deeper that continues to impact my research and writing. To this day, I haven’t forgiven him for taking a sabbatical my entire sophomore year!

I’m not the only one to benefit from his work. Nearly every speaker at the Gala paid tribute to him and to his lasting deep impact on their lives.  Lots of Westmont alums would echo that sentiment.

It was a total delight to see him again!

By the way, his brother, Stan Gundry, Zondervan’s Editor-in-Chief also looms large as an influence on me. Stan was first to open the door for me to submit a book proposal to Zondervan and has been an incredibly wise and godly mentor ever since.

I thank God for the Gundry brothers!

Nieces Lara & Courtney w/their families

The weekend finale was getting to spend time with my two nieces and their families, followed by a last minute change to a red eye flight so I could beat hurricane Sandy to Massachusetts.

So thankful Frank and I were spared the worst of Sandy’s powers―a few downed tree limbs and loss of electricity for 24+ hours.

This Monday I’ll be back at Boston-Logan again―this time heading for Portland to visit my mother who recently moved to assisted living and is doing remarkably well. 

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2 Responses to Westmont College’s 75th Anniversary Gala!

  1. Lesley says:

    I found your blog via your post on Ed's blog, and I noticed you were a Westmont alum (me too!) which prompted me to click over.

    I appreciated your article about women finding their own calling. I thought it was well written and thought provoking. I am 7 years into marriage and still figuring out how to pursue my own calling (writing) raise kids (also a calling) and love my husband. I appreciate learning from those who have gone before me. Thank you!

    p.s. Didn't get to make it to Westmont this year but hope to next year. It'll be my 10 year reunion in 2014 so that's a must! 🙂 Glad to see you were able to go.


  2. Carolyn says:


    Always great to meet another Westmont alum. The Gala was incredible. I'm so glad I was able to go.

    For me the whole notion of calling is a process that changes based on different circumstances and opportunities. I'm just pleased to know you're thinking it through.



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