Remembering Roger Minthorne

Roger Minthorne was a George Fox University leader.

Except for my title as university president, Roger had just about every other leadership position and title possible at George Fox University. He helped guide and shape his alma mater for nearly three-fourths of a century.

He arrived on the campus of then-named Pacific College in the fall of 1943 and started his leadership while a student. As a junior, he was student body president in the 1945-46 school year and then the next year served as student body treasurer. He also was elected president of his senior class, the Class of 1947. These are just his “major” volunteer roles, in addition to being a religious studies major. He also found time to be advertising manager for The Crescent, the student newspaper; business manager for the L’Ami, the yearbook; and treasurer of the Student Christian Union. For all this, as a senior, he was named to “Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.”

Roger continued his leadership quickly. In 1950, at the age of just 24, he was elected to head the George Fox College Alumni Association, serving as president for three years. 

His leadership stepped up in 1973, as he was named to the George Fox Board of Trustees, selected as an alumni association representative. It started a 45-year role as a board member: 27 as an active member and 18 as an honorary member (beginning in 2001), when he reached the board’s bylaws limit of 75 years of age for full service. 

Roger was not just a passive board member. He was a leader. For many years he served as chair of the Finance Committee. In 1984, he was elected trustee vice chair, serving a five-year term before stepping up to chair of the Board of Trustees in 1989, serving the maximum five-year term.

Roger was chair during the university’s centennial celebration year. It was at this time (1990-91) that the university’s now landmark (and logo inspiration) Centennial Tower was built. He was also chair as the university found ways to save Wood-Mar Hall from its planned removal and as it constructed the adjacent Edwards-Holman Science Center. He was chair when the university added the Willcuts and Beebe student residential housing suites. 

Roger’s support of this university went beyond his leadership. He also has been a significant financial supporter. For years, the focus of Roger and Mildred’s giving was to the Minthorne Family Scholarship, an annual award for incoming Friends students, with preference to a child of a Friends minister or missionary. They also strongly supported the annual Student Fund. Roger and Mildred made another significant investment when they provided more than $100,000 for creation of the Minthorne Art Gallery. Opened in 2006 in the Herbert Hoover Academic Building, this 900-square-foot show space is now in near-perpetual use.

As many know, it’s not the first time the name Minthorne has been on a college facility. Minthorn Hall (spelled without the “e” on the end) is the university’s oldest building, constructed in 1887 and moved to campus in 1892. It is named for Roger’s great uncle and aunt, Henry and Laura Minthorn. They served as foster parents to former president Herbert Hoover, as Henry Minthorn was the first superintendent of Friends Pacific Academy. It grew to become George Fox University. You can perhaps see the connection and fondness Roger felt for this institution.

George Fox has honored Roger for his involvement with us on numerous occasions. In 1982, he was named Alumnus of the Year, and in our 125th anniversary observance beginning in 2016 he was named to our list of 125 noteworthy and significant people who have created and shaped this university.

Ruth and I always enjoyed meeting with Roger and Mildred. They were simple and ever gracious. Mildred loved books, and we often talked about C.S Lewis or other works that she was reading in her book club. Roger enjoyed talking about investments or business innovation and how it applied to the university setting. They epitomized Quaker values in their support of the cause of Christ at the university, Twin Rocks Camp, Tilikum Camp and their church.

I have been reading through the papers of Levi Pennington. Last week I read a letter he wrote to Elizabeth Carey on the death of her father: “The death of your father brings renewed realization of the fact that there are things that we may long expect but for which we can never be fully prepared. I know how willing, even eager, your father was to “depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” It was the same with my father, who I cared for at night during weeks of his last illness. One night when he did not know that I was where I could hear, I heard him talking just as he might have talked to his closest human friend, but he was talking to his Father. He told his Father in heaven that he did not wish to be impatient nor to appear before his God before God desired it; but he said so far as he could see his work on earth was entirely finished, and he was very tired, and if the Father was willing he’d love to come home. It was not long after that until he fell asleep as I sat near him, and awakened in that country where “there is no death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any pain.”   

The letter reminded me of Roger. The last time we met about a month ago he was clearly tired. It was clear to me that his work here was finished and he wished to go home. I have come at last, says C.S. Lewis.  “This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now . . . Come further up, come further in!” Roger has found the place that he always looked for and Christ has welcomed him in. 

Robin Baker, President
Barry Hubbell, Alumnus and former university administrator

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