In Memoriam 2018: Celebrating the Lives They Led

As 2018 comes to an end, we remember the vital lives of some of those who slipped away from us during the year.

Former Andrews University President Grady Smoot passed away in January.

See: Andrews University Marks Passing of Former President Joseph Grady Smoot

Del Delker, the Voice of Prophecy soloist whose silky alto voice soothed the soul of listeners around the world, went to her rest in February.

See: Del Delker, Voice of Prophecy Soloist, Passes to Her Rest

She was the first of several Adventist women pioneers that we lost in 2018.

Joan Coggin, co-founder of the Loma Linda University Heart Surgery Team, passed away at the end of the year. The Heart Surgery Team made headlines around the world when they packed up the machinery to do open heart surgery and took it first to Pakistan and then to other countries where they were able to not only save lives of patients, but also to teach the procedure to the local physicians. Blessed with a delightful sense of humor, Coggin’s stories of the team’s adventures always left audiences laughing as well as inspired.

See: Joan Coggin, Co-founder of Overseas Heart Surgery Team, Dies at 90

Penny Miller was dedicated to acknowledging and supporting the contributions of women to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. A nurse by training, she led the efforts in the Southeastern California Conference in gender equity training for the local church, helping to prepare materials for congregations about women elders and pastors. She was also one of the founders of the Women’s Resource Center at La Sierra University.

See: A Life Well Lived: Dr. Penny Miller, 1940-2018

Before it was known as a “haystack,” the popular Adventist entrée was called the Hartlein Special. Ella May Hartlein passed away on June 30, 2018.

See: Ella May Hartlein, Credited with the Invention of the Haystack, Dies at 98

Christianity lost significant pioneers in 2018. The 99-year-old Billy Graham went to his rest in February.

But it was linguist and pastor Eugene Peterson who significantly touched the lives of Spectrum readers. Three of them wrote tributes about the man who translated the Bible into the English of today in a Bible called The Message.


Eugene Peterson and Me

Thank You Pastor Peterson

Remembering Eugene Peterson

Seventh-day Adventist Religious Liberty Pioneer Roland Hegstad died in June.

See: Long-time Religious Liberty Advocate, Author, and Editor Passes Away

Southern California lost several significant figures in the Seventh-day Adventist community.

Bailey Gillespie, one of the pioneers of Value Genesis, passed away. A professor in the H.M.S. Richards Divinity School at La Sierra University, Gillespie helped develop the survey Value Genesis that followed Adventist students over an extended period and yielded information about their spiritual journey in and outside of the church.

See: Passing of Dr. V. Bailey Gillespie

Ellsworth Wareham, the other co-founder of the LLU Heart Team, died at the age of 104 in Loma Linda. He had been featured in the National Geographic’s Blue Zone stories of centenarians.

See: Ellsworth Wareham, 104, was “Blue Zone” Pioneer and Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Douglas Welebir, the first mayor of Loma Linda, passed away following an extended illness. Known for his significant work as an environmental lawyer, Welebir also was very active in his local Loma Linda University Church where he created a popular Sabbath School.

See: Remembering Douglas F. Welebir, Loma Linda’s First Mayor

Writer, producer Jeff Wood who wrote the song “Side by Side” went to his rest in October.

See: “Side By Side” Adventist songwriter, Jeff Wood, Passes Away

In each of our lives, there are personal heroes whose passing touches our very core. For Spectrum contributor and Adventist pastor James Londis, Robert Zamora was such a person. We close with a tribute to him from Londis as a way of remembering all those who made our lives better by their presence.

See: A True Renaissance Man: Remembering the Life of Robert M. Zamora

Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.

Main image: Inline image credits can be found on the individual article pages.

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Rest in Peace…

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Looking forward to meeting you all in a better world.

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Am I to believe that there were no minority persons worthy of celebration in this extremely diverse church?

Trowing in a question like this, cold blood, may be incendiary in a society that is extremely sensitive to the issue. What if there was actually nobody else? Too late to consider such a possibility because a negative thought has already been planted anyway.

I would rather have seen someone doing some homework first, maybe contacting the Church and asking, "Who else died in 2018? - and then posting their names (if any) and their deeds in terms of leadership or achievements.

Is it really necessary to keep the bonfire burning forever???

Nothing incendiary about the question. It is a questain that deserves a response by the ones who wrote the piece.

@lenmarcher, thank you for your comment. As you can see from the article - and by clicking on the links that direct to the original articles about each person - the majority of these pieces came from official news outlets for the church: the North American Division, Loma Linda University Health, Andrews University, the Adventist Review, etc. Spectrum has a long-standing practice of re-publishing the life sketches, biographies, and in memoriam tributes to those who have passed away that appear in these official publications. So, it might be more helpful to direct your questions to the original publishers of the individual pieces that were compiled for this piece.

If you know of additional articles from 2018 that appeared in these official publications or elsewhere about individuals who passed away that we did not already republish, we would very much appreciate you letting us know.

Thanks again,

Editors, I appreciate your response. Thank you! However, over the last 12 months, I have observed in memoriam publications in various church publications (I won’t take the time to quote them all here) of minorities who have passed away. Maybe, the level of their church leadership responsibilities did not meet your criteria for publication. But as you would imagine, it is a sensitive issue for those of us who have experienced or observed notable omissions over the years. I am not suggesting that Spectrum practices discrimination or willful omission. I love the mission and general philosophy of this publication, but it certainly is your responsibility to be sensitive of the perceptions created when in a large and increasingly diverse organization only one racial group is mentioned. And if bias exists in our church publications, then it is my opinion that Spectrum should rather refrain from publishing such pieces to ensure it does not perpetuate such biases. Given the history of our church, you should always be sensitive to these issues.

@lenmarcher, we appreciate you taking the time to express your concerns on this matter.

Thank you,

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Perhaps you could write and submit articles that would be more reflective of what you are saying. You could be the answer to this “disparity”.


I would like to write a tribute to all the souls in Israel that passed without notice. one stands out in my mind. She sat on the front row next to the piano. She sang with all her heart, loud, out of tune, the sound came nearest a crow in a mating call. She lives in government housing. she would collect the monthly payments for rent, gas, light, etc from neighbors, take the bus down town and pay each bill and return the reicpts to each neighbor. Her tithe and offering were the widows mite. Christianity was not just a bel ief but. A life’s work. She couldn’t give a Bible study but she was a product of the Gospel. She is just one of an 100,000.


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