Alumni Link

Alumni Obituaries- July 2015

Published Date: July 1, 2015

 Rev. Mearl L. Bradley (B.Div., 1963), 76, of Chelsea, Michigan, went to be with his Lord Sunday, December 7, 2014. Mearl was pastor at Free Methodist Churches in Three Oaks, Charlotte, and Chelsea. After retiring, he provided pastoral care at Jackson Free Methodist Church. Mearl was Chaplain for the Michigan State Police for 36 years.Survivors include his wife, Joyce; two sons, Rev. Jeff (Carol) Bradley of Chelsea, Jared (Krista) Bradley of Chelsea; 5 grandchildren, Rev.Jamin (Jodi), Jaron (Meredith), and Joel, Bryce and Makayla; & one great-grandson, Beckett.


Dr. Eugene E. “Gene” Fuller (M.Div.,1964), 75, of Youngstown, was born May 12, 1939, in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the son of the late Harold P. Fuller and Althea Kruggel Fuller. Gene died from the effects of lymphoma and heart failure on May 7, 2015.

Gene graduated from Euclid High School in 1957, and attended Ohio State University. He also graduated from Asbury University in 1962. Gene met his wife in the Foreign Missions Fellowship Club his senior year at Asbury University. They were married in August of 1961, and would have been married 54 years this summer. In 1964, Gene graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity. Gene and his wife both taught in public schools for several years to support their graduate studies. The Fullers studied linguistics at the University of Oklahoma for two semesters and then attended Jungle Training Camp for three months. In 1966, they joined Wycliffe Bible translators and went to Vietnam to work from 1968 until they had to leave in April of 1975. During that time, their daughter, Christa, was born in Nha Trang, Vietnam, in 1970. When the Fullers left Vietnam, they went to the Philippines, where their son, Daniel, was born two months later. Gene made scripture tapes in the Chru language to be broadcast by FEBC Radio to Vietnam. At the end of 1976, the Fullers were assigned to work in Thailand, so Gene could make preliminary contacts with government and university officials, so Wycliffe could begin work there. After an extended furlough, Gene completed a doctoral program in Applied Linguistics at the University of Pittsburgh and graduated in 1982. Gene and his family then went on assignment to Sabah, East Malaysis, on the island of Borneo, from 1982 to 1991. Gene and Carol were later invited, in the spring of 1991, to teach at Open University in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and while there, they designed the curriculum for a new university in Hanoi. Later in 1991, the Fullers returned to the United States and became members of Wycliffe’s North America branch. In 1994, Gene became director of that work, and had responsibility for over 30 translation projects among Native Americans, Eskimos, first-nations Canadians, and emigrants from South East Asia and the Middle East. In the summer of 2000, Gene and Carol transferred their membership to the Mainland Southeast Asia Group of Wycliffe and returned to Vietnam in 2001, but due to Gene’s health problems they had to return to the United States. They moved to Greensboro, N.C., where 9,000 Montagnards from the central highlands of Vietnam are settled. There, they lived with a Montagnard family for five years and worshipped in a Montagnard Church. Gene worked with Chru language speakers, Nai Krim Touprong, and three elderly Chru uncles, YaBa, Ya Toung and Ya Tung. In November of 2007, Rev. Trung Touprong and his family were allowed to leave Vietnam and immigrate to the United States. From then, until the lymphoma overwhelmed him, Gene joyfully worked with Pastor Trung to complete and check the translation of the Chru New Testament. Gene was full of thanksgiving and praise that God allowed him to live long enough to complete this project. Gene leaves his wife of 54 years, Carol Taylor Fuller; son Daniel Fuller of New York City; daughter Christa and husband Jeff Hylton of New York City and five year old grandson, George Hylton; sister-in-law Carolyn Fuller; nephews David and wife Cindy Fuller and Darrin Fuller; nieces Madison and Cassidy; an uncle, Gilbert Fuller; an aunt, JoAnn Dreger; and many loved cousins. The family wishes to thank Dr. Kathie Nelson, Dr. Amy Awaida, Dr. Kenneth Lloyd, and all the kind staff of the Hope Center and the Hospice of the Valley.

Rev. Frederick Mitchel Ketner (M.Div. 1951), 91, of Dublin, passed away Monday, May 4th at Kobacker House in Columbus, Ohio. Fred was born on September 23rd, 1923, in Etna, Ohio. He began his ministry at the age of 17 when the local pastor asked him to preach a Sunday sermon. Fred attended Capital University of Columbus and Asbury Theological Seminary where he received his Bachelor of Divinity and Master of Divinity. He also attended Oberlin School of Theology and received certification in Rural Theology. Fred put himself through school by owning and operating a publishing business at Asbury College. His first charge as a full-time pastor was to Barnett’s Creek, Kentucky, in Home Mission work. He spent the following 40 years ministering at various churches throughout central Ohio before retiring from Peace United Methodist Church in Columbus in 1986. In addition to his work as a pastor, Fred served in the military. In 1955, Fred enlisted in Company I of 166th Infantry Combat Team. He attended and graduated from the U.S. Army Chaplain’s College and the Commandant General Staff College. Fred spent the next 30 years as a Chaplain for the Ohio Army National Guard and a teacher of the Officer’s Candidate School. Fred received the high honor of not only achieving the status of Chaplain for the State of Ohio, but also the first chaplain in the Ohio Army National Guard to reach the rank of Full Colonel, for which he was inducted into the Ohio Army National Guard Hall of Fame. Fred also served for 12 years as a professor at Circleville Bible College, (now Ohio Christian University) and 14 years as the Youth Summer Camp Director. Fred continued to work throughout his “retirement” as Chaplain of Friendship Village of Dublin for 22 years, retiring at the age of 81. Throughout his extraordinary career, he received many honors, including “Man of the Year” for receiving the Distinguished Service Award for the Junior Chamber of Commerce in Circleville, Ohio in 1955.  He was also named “Rural Minister of the Year” in 1956. Fred was also a speaker for several national memorial dedications. For the last three years at Friendship Village of Dublin, Fred organized and led a bi-monthly study group called the “Fireside Club”. He also was given the responsibility of teaching newcomers how to drive a scooter. Fred has been described as a “true gentleman” with a “cheerful and dynamic personality”, a “tactful leader”, and a man with an “inner-strength and an inner-peace that he imparts to all around him”. Upon the acceptance of one of his many awards he said, “I am just an average man trying to serve God and the community.” Fred us preceded in death by his parents Karl Mitchel Ketner and Edna Frebis Ketner, brother Richard “Whitey” Ketner, sister Marilyn “Sis” Griffith, and beloved nephews David Ketner, Danny Griffith, and Roger Mitchel Beal. Fred is survived by devoted wife of 57 years, Marjorie Ketner, daughters Deborah Ketner and Judy (Mark) Ketner Dollison, grandchildren Samantha and Connor Mitchel Dollison, sisters, Dorothy (Roger) Beal, Clara Davidson, and many nieces, nephews, congregants, and friends. Memorial contributions can be made to the family in the establishment of a Scholarship Fund in his name at Ohio Christian University, or to Nationwide Children’s Hospital of Columbus, Ohio, in memory of David Ketner.

Rev. Lester B. Laur, 96, of Effingham, passed away on Thursday, June 4, 2015, at HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital. Lester was born on Sept. 3, 1918, in Jefferson County. He married Helen Isabelle Crader in 1949, and she preceded him in death on Nov. 6, 2001. Lester graduated from Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, and attended Asbury Theological Seminary. He ministered faithfully to several Methodist churches in southern Illinois, and after retirement, served as a visitation pastor at Centenary United Methodist Church in Effingham. After his second retirement, Lester became “Pastor Emeritus” at Centenary United Methodist Church in Effingham. Lester served his church family for more than 50 years. He loved the church, gardening, watching his grandchildren play sports, traveling, jigsaw puzzles, and playing games with his grandchildren, especially, Monopoly.

Lester is survived by his sons, Steve (Jeanne) Laur of Maryville and Darrell (Velma) Laur of Effingham; grandchildren, Jill (JJ) Wright of Altamont, Derek (Maggie) Laur of St. Louis, Matthew (Carrie) Laur of Troy, Lisa (Curtis) Goacher of St. Joseph, Mo., Michael (Courtney) Ligotino of Kettering, Ohio, and Jason (Betsy) Ligotino of Kansas, Illinois; 16 great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandson; and two sisters.

Lester was preceded in death by his parents; wife; and several brothers and sisters.

The Reverend John James Miller, 94, of Lake Junaluska, passed from this earthly life to eternal life with God on May 11, 2015 at Maggie Valley Nursing Center. John was born in Easley, South Carolina, on August 11, 1920. He is the son of Reverend J.W. Miller and his wife, the former Harriet Elizabeth Pearson. John’s parents and his siblings preceded him in death. John lived in Easley, Greer, and Spartanburg, South Carolina during his early years. He received an AA degree from Southern Wesleyan University and a BA from Wofford College. He also attended Asbury Theological Seminary and Candler School of Theology, Emory University, where he received an M.Div.. Between 1939 and 1947, John was the pastor of Wesleyan churches in South Carolina, located in Townville, Spartanburg, Lyman, and Mayo. Ordained as an elder by the United Methodist Church in 1951, he was the pastor of United Methodist churches Gonzales, Louisiana and Mooresville, Concord, Gibsonville, Dallas, Maiden, Charlotte, Cornelius and Stanley, all in western North Carolina. During these many years of pastoral ministry, he was also an evangelist for 336 revivals and preaching events in the churches of eight denominations in nine states. After nearly 43 years of pastoral ministry, John retired to live in Lake Junaluska in 1986. He is survived by his loving wife, the former Opal Henderson of Spartanburg, South Carolina, whom he married in 1952. He is also survived by two sons, the Reverend Dr. Perry Miller and his wife, Reverend Karen F. Miller, of West Jefferson, North Carolina, and their daughter, Liz Miller, of Washington, D.C., and son, Kevin Miller and his wife, Lisa Miller, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina and their children, Dr. Patricia Dias and her husband, Chris Dias, of Charleston South Carolina, Carley Miller of State College, Pennsylvania, Mimi Miller of Boone, North Carolina and Dusty Miller of Winston-Salem. John is also survived by several nephews, nieces and cousins. Memorial gifts may be given to First United Methodist Church Congregational Care Ministry, P.O. Box 838, Waynesville, NC 28786; the Good Samaritan Clinic, 34 Sims Circle, Waynesville, NC 28786; or the Haywood Health Care Foundation (The Homestead Hospice), c/o Karen Denty, 127 Sunset Ridge Road, Clyde, NC 28721. Funeral Home Wells Funeral Home – Waynesville Wells Funeral Home – Waynesville 296 North Main Street Waynesville , NC 28786 Visitation First United Methodist Church of Waynesville First United Methodist Church of Waynesville 566 South Haywood Street Waynesville , NC 28786


Rev. Richard W. Russell (M.Div. 1964), 78, of South Abington Township, died Friday morning, May 8th, at the Gino Merli Veterans Center in Scranton, Pa. He was the husband of Patricia Burke Russell. The couple has been married for 55 years. Born in Westchester, Pa., he was the son of Vincent and Kathryn Moore Russell. Richard graduated high school in Annapolis, Md., and received a liberal arts degree from Asbury College, while later earning an M. Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary. Richard served 50 years of ministry in the United Methodist Church. He was a lieutenant commander in the United States Naval Reserves, where he served as chaplain for 18 years. He attended Clarks Summit United Methodist Church. Richard was a scoutmaster with the Boy Scouts of America, a member of the Lions Club, and a certified director of education in the United Methodist Church. He had a great passion for children’s ministry and children’s education. He also enjoyed photography, and had an extensive collection of bald eagle memorabilia. He was very artistic, and enjoyed doing handy work and crafting. Also surviving are two sons, Lt. Col. Richard Wesley Russell, USAF ret., Stafford, Va.; and Fr. Daniel Scott Russell, Pittsburgh, Pa.; two daughters, Marilyn L. Russell, Manhattan, N.Y.; and Elizabeth Russell Smock and her husband, Fredrick, Abingdon, Md.; four grandchildren, Daniel Wesley, Susan Marie Smock, Katelyn N. Russell and Alyssa Russell McDonnell and her husband, Second Lt. Bryan, USMC; a sister, Kathy Russell, Seattle, Wash.; and a brother-in-law, the Rev. Richard D. Burke, Redlands, Calif. Memorial gifts may be made to Clarks Summit United Methodist Church.


The Rev. Bruce Russell Sack (M.Div 2009), 49, of Hazlehurst, formerly of Tifton, passed away Wednesday, March 25, 2015, at Select Specialty Hospital in Tallahassee, Fla. A memorial service will be held for Rev. Sack at 11 a.m. Saturday at Tifton’s First United Methodist Church with the Rev. Gary Minton and the Rev. Stephen Webb officiating. Rev. Sack will be laid to rest at a later date.

Bruce was born Dec. 3, 1965 in Baltimore, Md.. He is the son of Doris Fauldrath Sack of Shrewsbury, Pa., and the late Edwin Sack. Bruce was a 1983 graduate of Susquehannock High School in Glen Rock, Pa.. He was also an honor graduate from Hillsborough Community College and the University of South Florida (both in Tampa, Fl.).

In 2009, he received his Master of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Orlando, Fla. In 2011, he became an ordained elder in the South Georgia United Methodist Conference. Rev. Sack was the pastor of First United Methodist Church in Hazlehurst and the former associate pastor of First United Methodist Church in Tifton. He served on mission trips to Russia, Peru and Cuba and Tennessee, North Carolina and Louisiana. He was a volunteer with the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, the Society of Saint Andrew, the Boy Scouts, Kairos Prison Ministry and the Emmaus Community.

In addition to his mother, Rev. Sack is survived by his wife, Janet Ann Watts Sack of Hazlehurst; a son, David Sack of Valdosta; two daughters, Emily Sack of Valdosta and Elizabeth Sack of Hazlehurst; a brother, Stewart Sack of Shrewsbury, Pa.; three sisters, Ellen Barnes of Stewartstown, Pa., Elaine Gardner of New Freedom, Pa. and Barbara Malinich of Shrewsbury, Pa.; and nine nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the “Altar Fund” at Tifton’s First United Methodist Church: 107 12th St., W. Tifton, GA, 31794, or Olivia’s House: 830 S. George St., York, PA, 17403.

Condolences may be sent to the family at the online guest registry at

Capt. Alfred F. Thornton (M.Div. 1982), 82, beloved husband for 52 years of Jean Thornton, loving father of Lori (Geoff) Banfield, Kevin (Tonya) Thornton, and Gary (Joyce) Thornton, cherished grandpa of 7 and great grandpa of 6, passed away on September 13th 2014, age 82.  He is also survived by one brother and four sisters.  Alfred and his wife, Jean, were Auxiliary Captains with The Salvation Army for 14 years until their retirement in 1996. In post retirement, Alfred was Pastor of Zion and Mt. Pleasant United Methodist churches in rural Indiana.  

Rev. Marion Lee Walker Sr. (M.Div. 1950), 91, of Lehighton, was born on Aug. 28, 1923, in McClain County, KY, and passed on to glory on May 31, 2015. Marion was the son of the late Harry and Lelah Jewell (Brown) Walker. As a young child, Marion and his family resided in Ontario, Canada. Later, the family relocated to Kentucky. While in high school in Sebree, KY, Marion served as class president and played for the Kentucky Wildcats.When he applied for military service during World War II, he was the only one in the entire county who wanted to become a minister, so he was exempt. Marion later enrolled in Asbury College in Wilmore, KY and graduated in 1946. He met his sweetheart, Elda Priscilla Diehl, while attending Asbury College, and the two were married in 1944. Marion continued his education at Asbury Seminary and graduated with a Master of Divinity in 1950.  Marion also served as an instructor at the Pilgrim Holiness Bible College in Colorado Springs, CO, from 1950-53 and was a missionary in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, BWI, from 1953-57. Later returning to the U.S., Marion served as pastor of Pilgrim Holiness churches in Wenona MD, Saxis VA and Grotons VA, and retired from active ministry in 1965. Throughout his life, Marion worked in various occupations at Perdue Farms, Crisfield Boat Plant, Diehl and Lick Construction, Diehl’s Tree Farm, and Big Boulder Ski Resort. Marion was an avid reader and enjoyed collecting and giving away books. He also enjoyed poetry, hiking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, bird watching, stamp collecting and astronomy. His favorite expression was, “You are someone special! Jesus loves YOU!” He will be sorely missed by family and friends.

Surviving in addition to his widow are a son, Marion Lee Walker Jr., and his wife, Sandra; three daughters, Elda Rose Walsh, and her husband, James, Lena Julia Meek Lindaman, and her husband, Frederick, and Lela Jewel Hartranft, and her husband, Wilbur; 10 grandchildren, David Walker, and his wife, Pat, Dianna Yeakel, and her husband, Shawn, Debbie Gaumer, and her husband, Christopher, James Walsh II, and his wife, Annette, Dawn Rohlfing, Philip Meek, and his wife, Rebecca, Brian Meek, and his wife, Wendy, Jeffery Meek, and his wife, Robin, Melissa Kraynanski, and her husband, John, and Amy Reimers, and her husband, Richard; 22 great-grandchildren, Luke Walker, Michael, Faith, Aleea and Bree Yeakel, Kaylie, Nicolas and Alyssa Gaumer, Maverick and Logan Walsh, Alexis and Lindsay Rohlfling, Taylor Frymier, and his spouse, Meredith, Shelby, Allyson, Abigail, Madelyn, Caleb and Charlotte Meek, and Emily, Kate and Kourtney Kraynansk; two nephews, Thomas Roy Henry and Stephen Walker, and his spouse, Alice; a niece, Rebecca Suzanne, spouse of Seth Jackson; and Shane Fisher, foster-child of Lena Meek Lindaman and Gary Meek (deceased) and James and Elda Walsh. He was also predeceased by a baby sister, Marian Walker; a sister, Lela Mae Walker Henry; two brothers, Harry and Henry Walker; and a baby granddaughter, Jessica Hartranft. Contributions in his name may be made to the church, God’s Missionary Church: 139 N. Sixth St., Lehighton.

See all articles

Comments are closed.