Friday, September 21, 2012

SBU Homecoming 2012 Oct 5-6: Life Service Award Winners Announced

Southwest Baptist University News Release
Contact: Sharina Smith, Office of Marketing & Communications
417-328-1803 /

BOLIVAR, Mo.BOLIVAR, Mo. – Southwest Baptist University will be celebrating Homecoming 2012 on Friday, October 5, and Saturday, October 6. Students will begin their activities earlier in the week with traditional events such as "Spirit Chapel" and "Bed Races." 

This year’s reunion class will have the opportunity to catch up with classmates on Friday at a pre-dinner social followed by the alumni banquet. On Saturday, everyone is invited to the parade starting at 10:00 a.m., followed by the football game where the SBU Bearcats will face the Hornets of Emporia State University at 2:00 p.m.

Approximately 2,000 SBU alumni and their families are expected to come to Bolivar for the homecoming events. Bolivar businesses are encouraged to decorate their windows using the homecoming theme and the SBU school colors, purple and white.

For more information about parade entries, participating in the car show, or other Homecoming activities, contact the SBU Homecoming hotline at 417-328-1806, or visit the SBU website at:

2012 Life Service Award Winners
Inspired by the Life Beautiful Award presented each year to one male and one female graduate, President John Dowdy suggested to the Southwest Baptist College Board of Trustees in 1955 that the Life Service Award be given annually to graduates whose lives have exemplified the principles, which are upheld at Southwest.
Currently, the SBU National Alumni Association Board nominates a maximum of six names of prospective recipients from business, missions, church-related vocations, education and other fields of service. The recipients are ratified at the May meeting of the SBU Alumni Board. The award, presented during Honors Chapel at Homecoming by the president of the University, is the highest recognition that the University can bestow upon an alumnus or alumna.
Remarks from the 2012 Life Service Award Winners
Dorothy Johnson Laverentz ’53
  • AA from SWBC in 1953; BA in education from the University of Missouri Kansas City
  • Worked at La Petite Academy
  • Attends Northgate Baptist Church in Kansas City, MO
  • 10 years of service with Meals on Wheels
  • Married to Raymond with one daughter Debbie Howe and husband Kelly.  Three grandchildren: Derek, Patrick and Breanna
Thank you, Dr. Mike Fuhrman, and the SBU National Alumni Association Board for honoring me with the 2012 Life Service Award.  I could never have imagined that I would be chosen for this award.
I attended the First Baptist Church of Appleton City, MO for the first 18 years of my life.  St. Clair County was my world.  My pastors, V.S. Stanley and C.W. Dorman, were graduates of SWBC.  I am grateful for my Christian parents, pastors, Sunday school teachers, and other leaders in the church who were my mentors.
 A weekend revival team from SWBC came to our church, and I knew then that I wanted to attend SWBC.  This institution provided the foundation I needed for growth in my Christian life.  Even working as a waitress at SWBC was a valuable experience.  Does anyone remember the “sad sacks” we packed for the Sunday evening meal?  Who named them “sad sacks?”
Thank you fellow alumni, friends of SBU, and staff for making SBU the spiritual institution that it has become today.  I am grateful for the sacrifice my parents made to make it possible for me to attend SWBC.  We serve an amazing God.

Jacqulyn Bateman Thorn ’59
  • AA from SWBC in 1959; BS in Education from the University of Central Missouri (formerly CMSU) in 1963; MS in Education from the University of Central Missouri in 1973
  • Public school teacher for 34 years, retired in 1994
  • Member of Hamilton Baptist Church in Hamilton, MO since 1966, serves as church librarian
  • Married to Gordon Thorn with two step-children: Julie Condit and her husband Eldon of Colorado, and the late Thomas Thorn and wife Mindy of Iowa; one granddaughter, Heather and husband Barry Houk, and one great grandson, Landynn Thomas Houk.
Thank you Dr. Taylor, Lindsay Schindler and the SBU National Alumni Association Board, David Anderson who originally nominated me, and any others who had a part in presenting me with this award.  I am deeply honored and very appreciative.  I am also thankful for the positive impact SWBC had on my life.  I have warm memories of my time spent here.
However, this is not about me; it is about my Lord Jesus Christ and what He has done in my life!  “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”  Ephesians 3:20 NLT
When I was on campus fifty-three years ago, I was the least likely person anyone would expect to receive such a prestigious award in her lifetime.  I was extremely timid and socially challenged.  However, in my misery, a few years later I cried out to God, and life has never been the same since!  From that moment on, God’s presence has continually been within me and beside me through the ups and downs, healing, restoring, and guiding me, and living through me to love and serve others to His glory!
God has uniquely created each of us with differing personalities, strengths, weaknesses and learning styles.  None of which should be judged but all celebrated as God given gifts.  In the public schools, each learning disabled student is provided, following an extensive evaluation, an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) for his/her education.  Our loving God also has a personalized plan for each of our lives and is willing to implement it as we give him permission.  Only then can we become the person He created us to be.  “For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  Ephesians 2:10 NLT

Dr. Stan Smith ’71
  • BA in from SWBC in 1971; M. Div. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1975; D.Min. from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in 1993
  • Serves as the Associate Executive Director and State Director of Missions (28 years) for the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania-South Jersey
  • Attends East Shore Baptist Church in Harrisburg, PA and serves on the missions committee
  • Married to Lynda with 2 children: Stanley Smith, Jr. and his wife, Mirna Kenovich, and their son, Luka Andrew; and Elizabeth Doherty and her husband Ryan Doherty.
Robert Burton wrote in the early 1600’s “a dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant may see farther than a giant himself.”  Though I am deeply humbled and honored to receive this award, there is a deep sense in which this is more a story of the men and women upon whose shoulders I was privileged to stand. 
Giants like Dr. GH Surrette, who while serving as our interim pastor came to my home for lunch.  I was considering going to a different college at the time.  My mother was terrified to have a doctor in her home.  He came through the door, took off his coat and rolled up his sleeves, and asked my mother how he could help in the kitchen.  Sensing the call of God on my life, he would, for unknown reasons, discover at the last minute that he could not make it to our church on Sunday and ask me to fill in for him.  But most important of all, he believed in me beyond my own confidence in myself.  He challenged me to academic excellence.  Giants like Dr. Dan Cochran. 
I was told philosophy would compromise my faith, but Introduction to Philosophy was a required class.  He taught me that all truth came from God; I did not need to be intimidated by great philosophers.  Before class we would meet and play billiards.  He would share and probe and challenge my thinking.  I minored in philosophy because of him and would have majored in it if it had been offered. 
Drs. Surrette and Cochran matured and stretched and deepened my faith.  Or men like Dr. James Sells who, as President, took me on the road with him to speak to groups of potential students or appeal to alumni because he believed that my story would encourage others.  The story could go on.  So today is a continuation of the stream of investment and return that Southwest Baptist University made in my life and continues to make.  This is a unique institution with a profound legacy and exciting future, and I am grateful to be part of its story today. 

CH (COL) Jeff Houston ’75
  • BA in Religion and Music from SWBC in 1975; M. Div. from Golden Gate Seminary in 1989; Masters of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College in 2012
  • Chaplain Colonel in the U.S. Army, 23 years of Active Duty service; four combat tours in Iraq
  • Ordained Southern Baptist Chaplain endorsed by the North American Mission Board
  • Married to Lisa for 39 years with three daughters: Amy Ashley, Sara Price and Karen Phipps
I am humbled, and honored to accept the Life Service Award. I praise the Lord for what he has
done, and I give Him thanks for what he continues to do.
God works through His people. The honor of this Life Service Award goes to all those who sacrificially poured their lives into mine. Those unbelievably influential individuals that God placed in my life to love, teach, and guide me on life's journey.
I am thankful for my wife Lisa and how God has used her for 40 years to encourage and support me. I am thankful for how God has used my parents and family to uniquely prepare me for life and ministry. I am thankful for how God has used great institutions such as SBU to teach and train me along the way. I am thankful for how God has used friends to renew a sense of joy and sanity after years of combat ministry to our country's warriors fighting on foreign soil.
I am thankful for the pastors and teachers on whose shoulders I am privileged to stand. Those who taught me more about ministry and serving God than any college, seminary, or textbook ever could.
I am honored to receive this award on behalf of all these, for if there is ever anything praiseworthy in my life, it is but a reflection of what God has done through them.

Beth Toppass Snowden ’51
  • AA from SWBC in 1951; BS in Education from the University of Central Missouri (formerly CMSU) in 1959; Masters of Science in Education from the University of Central Missouri in 1975
  • Retired school teacher and counselor; 28 ½ years of service
  • Charter member of Susquehanna Baptist Church; teaches Sunday School and sings in the choir
  • Married to the late Clay Snowden with four children: Carol Hensley and husband Nelson, Jonathan Snowden and wife Diana; Lyndell Snowden and wife Mary, and Glenn Snowden

My “wake up” call about SWBC came about when I was in high school.  The women’s quartet were guest singers at our yearly associational meeting.  I was impressed! I wanted to know more about this college!  The singers left a great impression on me.
            What an experience.  I’ll ever be grateful for the friendships I forged at SWBC.  The Christian love, guidance, and many more examples of what a committed Christian looks, acts and sounds like were awesome.  These blessings have carried over throughout my lifetime.  I can forever be thankful for these gifts of a loving heavenly father. 
            I met my husband on campus.  Clay found Christ as his personal savior through the prayers of his friends and caring teachers.  Our marriage was blessed with four children, ten grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. We enjoyed serving our savior through teaching in the public schools.  We were active in our local church.  One of our richest blessings we experienced was being a part of a mission team from First Baptist Church in Independence to form a mission church.
            Precious friendships were formed here on campus.  Fellow alumni that we have had a privilege to meet along our life’s pathway have enriched our lives.  We learned to be strong examples of Christian love and service.  We learned we did not have to be “missionaries to China” to serve our Lord and Savior.  We observed by example to be aware of needs in our families, our neighborhood, and our community.
            It is such a blessing to me to see the expansion of the campus.  It means more young people have the opportunity of study on a Christian campus.
            Thank you SBU for your continuing blessings in my life and in the lives of young people.  May you long continue to be a living witness of God’s amazing love.

Southwest Baptist University is a leader among private universities in truly integrating Christ-centered academic pursuits with comprehensive professional programs at an affordable price. At SBU, the faculty and staff create a caring, academic community to prepare students to be servant leaders in a global society. For more information, visit

SBU’s Office of Marketing and Communications is available to news media 24 hours a day at (417) 399-7918.

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