Remembering Willie Stoffer

Willie on the sidelines with George Fox alumnus Jesus Garcia.

Recently I attended the memorial service of former George Fox student and loyal Bruin football fan Willie Stoffer. Following are the thoughts I shared about Willie’s life and impact on the George Fox community.

It was the fall of 2008. We welcomed new first-year students to our campus in the last week of August and among them was a young man named Willie Stoffer. The first weekend is a whirlwind for most of the university staff and I do not remember meeting Willie, but sometime during the first week of school that changed. I was sitting in my office on the third floor of the Stevens building on the George Fox University campus, and while I was looking out the windows to the quad I noticed a student riding a scooter at breakneck speed down one of the sidewalks, trying to get to class on time! My initial thought was that he had violated our sidewalk speed limit!
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Willie’s Last Game

Willie Stoffer is greeted on the sidelines by a football player earlier this season. His presence at games was a constant source of inspiration for the team.

Last Saturday was a typical fall day in Oregon – sunless, cool and damp with a constant hint of rain. It was our last home football game of 2017 and from a public view most preparations for the day appeared entirely normal. The teams gathered on the field and were getting their game plans in place. Fans were arriving slowly with warm jackets and umbrellas in abundance. You could sense it would be another good day at Stoffer Family Stadium.

But it was not a normal day for a young man named Willie Stoffer. Willie, a former student at George Fox, had struggled with various forms of cancer for many years. In the face of serious disease he was a constant encouragement to many of us, including the George Fox football team and coaches. Continue reading

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Meeting an Angel on Serve Day

Eighteen years ago, President Dave Brandt began a George Fox tradition known as Serve Day. Recently, we continued the tradition by sending out more than 2,000 students, staff and faculty to serve our community and neighbors in the northwest corner of Oregon (and a few other places). We do this, of course, because we want to be neighborly, but also because it was Dr. Brandt’s commitment and belief that Christ calls us to serve others. I am one of many who have served at every Serve Day since the beginning. We have worked in homes, shredded lots of blackberries, painted, swept and generally helped wherever we could.
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An Impressive Display of Character

On Saturday, Sept. 2, I stood on the sidelines during our first football game of the 2017 season. It was a cool day with a breeze and just a little rain. We had traveled to play the No. 15-ranked Division III team in the nation – a squad that had beaten us 35-0 on our home field the year before. The opposition looked as tough as it had the previous year, so I had to wonder if we would endure a similar experience. At the end of the first half we trailed 24-7, so we at least had the consolation that we had scored!
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Seeing the World Through the Eyes of Others

It was 1974, and we had moved from a small rural town in Arizona (Mayer) to the “large” city of Flagstaff. I had spent most of my growing-up years in small agricultural towns and was confronted for the first time with a more complex and diverse culture. My brother and I attended Flagstaff High School with about 1,300 students. There were many aspects of our new high school that were different from the past: the number of students, the general diversity of the student body, and the presence of a large group of Native American students.
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‘Just Sand on a Beach’

About 12 years ago, Professor Jim Foster and I took a group of George Fox students on a trip to Europe that centered on the American experience in World War II. We started in London and visited one of the finest war museums in the world – the Imperial War Museum. We then traveled to Dover, took a ferry to Calais and from there visited the French city of Bayeux. Once we settled into the hotel in Bayeux, we prepared for a two-day tour of D-Day sites with our British guide.
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Oh So Close

About 10 years ago, MaryJo McCloskey came to me and asked if I might be interested in developing a women’s golf program at George Fox. She had previously coached at Lewis & Clark and was looking for a university that might support her efforts fully. Those of you who know me understand that I do not play golf. When I was a kid I spent my time playing football, basketball and running track. Even if I had thought of playing golf, our small community did not have a course. Given my own history, I suppose you might wonder why I said “yes” to a golf program. It has everything to do with the coach – MaryJo. She is an excellent coach, but more than that she is the type of person who draws people to her cause. The cause in this particular case was women’s golf, and I believed in her and what she could do.
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The Practice of Being Alone Together

Most of my family lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and when Christmas comes around we almost always travel home. During this particular holiday, my brother Keith was given tickets to the Fiesta Bowl, and I was privileged to attend with him. We happened to be in a suite with mainly Clemson Tiger fans who deeply enjoyed the contest (Clemson won 31-0). There happened to be a couple of Ohio State Buckeye supporters who remained relatively silent, for obvious reasons, through most of the evening.
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The Spirit of the Age

One of my favorite musical writers is a man named Michael Card. A number of years ago he wrote a song called the Spirit of the Age that expressed his frustration with the tragic events that seemed to dominate his cultural experience …
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Sacred: A Reflection

On our recent Juniors Abroad trips one our primary focal points was centered on “experiencing the sacred.” I have to admit, I have specific images, patterns and even forms in mind when I think of the “sacred.” For me, sacred space and objects were designed to enhance one’s experience with God – to take one closer to what C. S. Lewis called, “Joy.” In the secular materialistic age we find ourselves in there is little room for reflection, pondering, wandering or considering something beyond the physical and material experience we have every day. We fill our days with work, visits to the internet, television, music, malls and other things. In one sense, our lives are full and primarily focused on what we perceive to be our own needs and desires. For much of the human past, the “sacred” called a person outside themselves to consider greater purpose and meaning.
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