With the Lord

As reported in the Jan/Feb 2018 issue.


Robbi Lynn Hazlett Fanberg

February 12, 1955–July 11, 2017

Raised on the mission field in Indonesia, Robbi attended St. Paul Bible College (now Crown College, St. Bonifacius, Minn.) and received her master’s in pastoral care from Bethel Seminary. She studied nursing at Ramsey Community College in Minnesota.

During 29 years of C&MA ministry, Robbi and her husband, Chuck, were missionaries to Venezuela, Peru, and Costa Rica. Robbi was involved in church planting, music and youth ministries, theological education, counseling, and discipleship. She also was an integral member of the team that planted the America Sur Alliance Church and one of the last Spanishministry missionaries to serve with the C&MA in Peru before the mission completed work there.

Robbi desired to see churches planted in places where Jesus’ message was most needed. This passion brought the Fanbergs to the city of Escazu, home of Costa Rica’s most affluent yet unchurched people. To build relationships in this challenging area, Robbi opened a coffeeshop, where she exemplified Christ’s love to community members.

In 2014, Robbi was diagnosed with stage four cancer. During her valiant battle against this illness, her life was a testimony of faith in God and love for others.

Robbi is survived by her husband; sons Ryan and Drew; daughter Melanie; and 4 grandchildren.

Dr. Gerald Earl McGraw, PhD

May 26, 1932–July 18, 2017

Gerald was born in Oil City, Pa. On August 7, 1956, he married Martha Swauger. Strongly committed to furthering his education, Gerald earned the first of his six academic degrees at the Missionary Training Institute (now Nyack [N.Y.] College). He then attended Houghton (N.Y.) College and Wheaton (Ill.) College Graduate School. He received his MDiv at Chicago (Ill.) Graduate School of Theology, his DMin from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Wake Forest, N.C.), and his PhD from New York University.

Gerald pursued additional studies at the University of Georgia, Erskine (S.C.) College, Edinboro (Pa.) State University, and Clemson (S.C.) University. He also received an honorary doctor of divinity.

During more than 45 years of C&MA ministry, Gerald served churches in Butler (1956–1960), Hollidaysburg (1960–1963), and Saegertown, Pa. (1963–1966), and was a professor at Toccoa Falls (Ga.) College (1968–2001). He wrote several textbooks that became required reading for pastoral training as well as dozens of articles and manuals. He had a quiet, low-key approach to ministry and led countless hurting people to freedom in Christ.

Gerald is survived by his wife; sons Philip and David; 9 grandchildren; and 4 great grandchildren.

Alice Verdelle Gibbons

October 29, 1930–July 26, 2017

Alice was born in Glendale, Calif., and attended Simpson Bible Institute (now Simpson University, Redding, Calif.). On June 30, 1951, she married Don Gibbons, whom she had met while ministering on Whidbey Island (Wash.). They served in Paulina, Ore., with Village Missions for two years and were then appointed as C&MA missionaries to Netherlands, New Guinea (now Papua, Indonesia).

Alice and Don were among the first outsiders to contact stone-age tribes in the Ilaga and Beoga Valleys. During their 42 years of ministry, the couple saw the gospel transform countless lives as fear, spirit worship, and constant warfare gave way to peace and forgiveness. Alice was a full partner in this ministry, spearheading literacy programs, writing Sunday school curriculum and seminar presentations, and teaching future church leaders about the Bible. She wrote two books that chronicle the couple’s ministry in Papua: The People Time Forgot and Where the Earth Ends.

After the couple returned to the United States, Alice was active in their churches and community in Paradise and Ripon, Calif. She and Don celebrated 66 years of marriage in June 2017.

Alice is survived by her husband; daughters Kathleen, Joyce, Lori, Helen, and Darlene; 13 grandchildren; and 15 great grandchildren.

Dr. Rexford (Rex) Arthur Boda

May 9, 1933–August 4, 2017

Born in Ithaca, N.Y., Rex did his undergraduate work at Cornell University in Ithaca and Nyack (N.Y.) Missionary College. He received his MDiv and PhD from Westminster Theological Seminary (Glenside, Pa.). Rex wrestled for Ithaca High School and Cornell University, where he was captain of the team. On August 23, 1958, he married Jean.

With a deep commitment to ministry training and theological education, Rex ministered with the C&MA for more than 36 years. His career in academia began at Dryden (N.Y.) High School, where he also was a wrestling coach. He then served at Westminster Seminary and was president of Canadian Bible College/Theological Seminary in Regina, Sask. (now Ambrose University, Calgary, Alta.), and Nyack College/Alliance Theological Seminary. 

Rex is survived by his wife; children Kim, Matt, Mark, Mike, Tim, Kristal, and Keri; 20 grandchildren; and 8 great grandchildren.

DeLors Irene (Piper, Shank) Johnson

April 15, 1925–August 5, 2017

Irene was born in Castlewood, S.Dak. She attended St. Paul Bible College (now Crown College, St. Bonifacius, Minn.); Huron (S.Dak.) College; Mound-Midway School of Nursing (St. Paul, Minn.); and Edmonton University (Alta., Canada).

After working as a nurse on the Chippewa Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, Irene was a C&MA missionary in Gabon, where she ministered in the medical clinic that later became Bongolo Hospital. In 1973, Irene married Floyd Shank, also a missionary in Gabon. Irene continued to work with the medical team while Floyd was the Bible school dean. Later, they were loaned to the Central Africa Republic Church to help start a seminary. The Shanks spent their last two years as missionaries in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), where Floyd was the C&MA seminary dean.

The couple retired in 1982 to Gainesville, Fla. Irene served as a nurse at Good Samaritan Village, and Floyd continued his writing. He died in 2000 from Parkinson’s disease.

In 2006, Irene married Dan Johnson, a widower. Together they served in their church and community as well as in the country of Haiti.

Irene is survived by her husband; son Marvin; daughter Joanne; and 5 grandchildren.

Rev. Melvin (Mel) Wilson

June 10, 1940–August 6, 2017

Born in Everett, Wash., Mel received his BA from Simpson College (now Simpson University, Redding, Calif.) in 1965. On June 11, 1962, he married Kathleen A. Sidwell.

During 55 years of C&MA ministry, Mel served churches in Everett, Wash. (1962–1976); Wolf Creek, Ore. (1976–1987); Joyce, Wash. (1987–2005); and Bly, Ore. (2005–2017). He was involved in child evangelism, Awana, church construction, home Bible studies, and prison ministry. He also served as a county commissioner, wrote the Faith column for the Peninsula Daily News for 10 years, and was a firefighter, fire chaplain, and emergency medical technician. When arsonists torched a community member’s house, Mel roused his church and area residents to rebuild the home. In 2005, he received the Callam County Community Service Award (Citizen of the Year). In addition, Mel traveled to Chile to do construction work for missionaries.

Mel is survived by his wife; sons David and Daniel; daughter Deborah; 7 grandchildren; 4 great grandchildren; and 15 foster children.

Rev. Michael Hengle

April 2, 1951–August 28, 2017

Born in Akron, Ohio, Michael received a BA in Bible and theology with a minor in Greek from Toccoa Falls (Ga.) Bible College. He married Patricia Thornburg on April 2, 1972, and was ordained on October 6, 1982.

During 37 years of C&MA ministry, Michael served churches in Terre Haute, Ind. (1980–1987); Toledo, Ohio (1987–1994); Burlington, Vt. (1994–2008); and Gadsden, Ala. (2008–2016). Even in retirement, he continued to serve those in need as a chaplain and prayer warrior.

Michael is survived by his wife; sons Nathan and Jonathan; daughter Jennifer; and 7 grandchildren.

Rev. William P. Wood

December 29, 1933–September 6, 2017

Born in McKeesport, Pa., William surrendered his life to Jesus at the age of 16 during the Western Pennsylvania Alliance District Camp in Mahaffey. That fall, with the help of a musician, he organized the McKeesport Alliance Gospel Team, a group of teens who presented music and messages in area churches. Later, he became involved with Youth for Christ. When God called him to full-time ministry, William enrolled in Nyack (N.Y.) Missionary College (now Nyack College). On July 15, 1955, he married Norma Belles.

During more than 39 years of C&MA ministry, William pastored churches in Somerset (1959–1965), Blairsville (1965–1976), and North Huntington, Pa. (1984–1999). He also was director of the Western Pennsylvania District’s Extension and Redevelopment office. In retirement, William became the district’s head chaplain and served five interim pastorates.

William is survived by his wife; daughter Paula; and 2 granddaughters.

M. Frances Lithgow Jackson

August 18, 1927–September 15, 2017

Frances was born in Clarksville, Tenn. On August 9, 1946, she married Rev. Ralph E. Lithgow.

During more than 30 years of C&MA service, Ralph and Frances ministered in churches in Fayette City (1951–1956), Erie (1956–1960), DuBois (1960–1965), and Beaver, Pa. (1965–1972). They also served in the Western Pennsylvania District office while Ralph was district superintendent and assistant district superintendent.

After Ralph died in 1981, Frances married Milton Jackson in 1983. He died in 2006. She devoted her life to loving and serving Jesus and her neighbors.

Frances is survived by her husband, Charles Taylor; sons Ronald, Paul, and David; 12 grandchildren; and 21 great grandchildren. She was predeceased by daughters Linda and Beccie; and son Daniel.

Rev. Larry E. Mason

September 19, 1948–September 18, 2017

Larry was born in Hugoton, Kans., and attended Baptist Bible College (Springfield, Mo.). On May 18, 1968, he married Katy McCormick in Des Moines, Iowa.

Larry served as senior pastor of Hope Alliance Church in Bloomington, Ill. (2003–2013), and worked in several other ministries. He was involved with the JESUS Film Video Project, Choices Week, the Bill Glass Crusade, and the Walk to Emmaus. Larry touched innumerable lives for God’s Kingdom, both locally and internationally. He was active in one-on-one evangelism as well as reaching large groups with the gospel.

Larry is survived by his wife; children Kelly, Lora, Melody, Jenni, Kevin, and Keith; 21 grandchildren; and 13 great grandchildren.

Rev. Kenneth (Ken) G. Riggenbach

October 22, 1930–September 23, 2017

Born in Bay City, Mich., Ken attended St. Paul Bible College (now Crown College, St. Bonifacious, Minn.). On August 31, 1951, he married Wilma Mae Schlatter.

During more than 36 years of C&MA ministry, the Riggenbacks served as C&MA missionaries to Indonesia, retiring in 1992. Ken was a member of the Westmont (Ill.) Alliance Church and attended Calvary Baptist Church (South Bend, Ind.). He was a licensed pilot, owned an airplane, and was a Board member of the Jerry Tyler Municipal Airport in Niles. Ken also volunteered with the Pregnancy Care Center and Meals on Wheels in Niles.

Ken is survived by his wife; sons Terry and Scott; daughter Jacki; and 17 grandchildren.

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