Homecoming festivities at Southwest Baptist University will begin with Honors Chapel at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 3, in Pike Auditorium, when five alumni will be recognized for living lives of service.
Alumni Life Service Awards
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. The award is the highest recognition that the University can bestow upon an alumnus or alumna. This year’s four recipients are:
Betty Clark will receive a Life Service Award posthumously from SBU.
• Betty Clark ’47: Clark’s ministries included being a hospice volunteer, English as a Second Language tutor, Chamber of Commerce volunteer, church organist for 50 years, Sunday school teacher and WMU member.
The Clarks were appointed by the Foreign Mission Board in 1952 and served together in Venezuela until Clyde’s death in 1956. After a furlough, Betty returned in 1957 with her two young children to Venezuela and taught health and music classes in the seminary there until 1961. However, because of political unrest in the country, it became unsafe for Betty and her children to stay in Venezuela. They returned to the states and she worked as a nurse in a local doctor’s office for 30 years.
“Southwest Baptist had a big impact in the training for my life’s vocation,” she wrote after being notified about receiving the award. “I continued my education at Mather School of Nursing in New Orleans and received my R.N. degree. While at Southwest Baptist I made many lifelong friends as well as meeting my husband, Clyde Clark.”
She and her husband, the late Clyde Clark ’47, had two children, Mark Alan Clark and Rebecca Lou (Clark) Rutledge, six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Family members will be present to accept the award posthumously for Mrs. Clark, who passed away recently.
Sondra Mahoney, SBU Life Service Award recipient
• Sondra (Isenburg) Mahoney ’62: Mahoney was an elementary school teacher in the Cabool School District for six years and the Mountain Grove School District for 24 years. She is a member of First Baptist Church, Mountain Grove, where she serves as WMU director and Sunday school teacher, serves on the Pastor Search Committee, participates in the choir and serves as Associate Executive Board Member.
“I am so grateful to SBU for the foundation it provided to learn leadership skills,” she wrote. “I was taught Christian values. I desired to follow the examples set forth by the faculty. The SBU family became my family. Many of my classmates have remained lifelong friends.”
Mahoney lives in Mountain Grove, Mo.
Herbert Pedersen, SBU Life Service Award recipient
• Herbert Pedersen ’66, ’68: Pedersen has served in the ministry for 50 years and is current and founding pastor of Longbranch Community Baptist Church in Midlothian, Texas. He is an adjunct professor and director of the Ph.D. Internship Program at Dallas Baptist University. He has M.Div. and D.Min. degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
“My wife, Barbara, who was also a student at SWBC, and I grew to love this University and the wonderful, godly people who taught and served here,” he wrote. “I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without this relationship with SBU.”
Herbert and his wife, Barbara (Holman) ’67, live in Midlothian, Texas, and have three daughters, Rhonda Denise Bailey, Angela Gail Cagle and Elizabeth Ann Savage.
Stephen Whisler, SBU Life Service Award recipient
• Stephen Whisler ’71: Whisler composed “SBU, Our Alma Mater” in 1981. He served as a faculty member in the SBU Department of Music from 1976 to 1981 and served as SBU’s Director of Alumni/Planned Giving from 1989-2010. Whisler also has served more than 25 churches in southwest Missouri as the interim minister of music and currently attends Second Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo., where he is an executive staff member and a former deacon and former choir member.
“While I am deeply grateful for being selected by the SBU National Alumni Board, I must express my thanks to the late Dr. Ellen Bell who nominated me,” Whisler wrote. “My being selected is a tribute to those beloved and godly people through whom the Lord has worked to mold and shape me through their lasting influences. So as I boast about them, I’m boasting about the Lord.”
Stephen and his wife, Barbara (Field) ’72, live in Springfield, Mo., and have two children, Mark Whisler ’01 and Suzanne (Whisler) Norman, and five grandchildren.
Edwin Lightfoot Distinguished Alumni Award
The Alumni Association presents the Edwin Lightfoot Distinguished Alumni Award annually to an alumnus or alumna who demonstrates the ideals personified by the late Edwin Lightfoot ’40. The award criteria include alumni leadership in the University, dedication to the education and welfare of youth, and demonstrated support for SBU.
Patricia Betteridge, recipient of SBU’s Edwin Lightfoot Distinguished Alumni
Patricia Betteridge ’51: Patricia taught high school art, photography and humanities for 25 years. She served as president of Independence Art Association for two years and was in charge of Summit Art Scholarships for Blue Springs Art League for four years. She is a member of Greater Kansas City Art Association, Blue Springs Art League, Summit Art and Independence Art Association. In 2012, she received the President’s Award from Cultured Arts Coalition.
“I am very thankful for the wonderful Christian atmosphere, the dedicated faculty and the precious friendships formed on this campus,” she wrote. “The music program was especially important to me. I have fond memories of practicing with the quartet/octet every day preparing for the special experience of performing and traveling.”
Patricia and her husband Bill ’49 live in Independence, Mo., and have a daughter, Toni Pine.