My Friend Bud – Part 5

CHALLENGING QUEST

In the fall of 1982 Bud and friend Ken Thelen dropped off their sons, Tim and Todd, at Maranatha to begin their college careers. Later Bud told me that he was concerned about lack of attractiveness around the campus and that prompted him to talk to Dr. Cedarholm. He said something like, “Cedar are you ready to retire, and do you still want me to come to lead Maranatha in the future?” Cedar’s response was something like, “Whew, I was afraid you didn’t want to come and so I was afraid to ask.” That conversation set things in motion for Bud to begin to give transitional leadership to MBBC in the spring semester, and was inaugurated as president to begin the 1983-84 school year.

When I arrived five years later at MBBC in 1988, I learned more of the story of the challenges facing Maranatha in 1982-83 when Bud began to take over the helm. Cedar was worn out at age 68, and the college was faced with several difficult issues. The institution was in a budget crunch, over staffed, and was endeavoring to face the fallout of previous financial decisions that needed to be addressed. Some of the issues included: The college had cosigned at local banks for student loans that were not being paid. Gifts for replacing the large windows in Old Main had been used for current obligations and the drafty windows were causing increased energy costs.

Bud tackled these issues with his characteristic focus and energy. In those early days of his presidency, he ruffled feathers, but in retrospect it initiated what some have called “the Second Maranatha Miracle.” The original miracle centered around the procurement of the property, buildings, furnishings and equipment. The miracle of the second fifteen years of the institution encompassed stabilizing the financial and administrative functions of the college, the expansion of the campus, strengthening academic programs, and the growth of the student body.

The current Maranatha website records that “no fewer than 39 building and remodeling projects were completed” during this era. This was where Bud was the most effective. He not only gave the vision for the projects, but he created the construction know how to make it happen. Because of experience he gained back in the days at Normal he learned how to be a general contractor, or work with contractors in an effective way.

He also brought financial credibility to the institution. Before he launched the Student Center fund raising project, Bud saw to it that state-of-the-art windows were installed in Old Main, and paid for out of general operating expenses. Once, that project was completed he embarked on the $450,000 Student Center project, which was the brilliant repurposing of a small gym and storage area into a beautiful two-level facility. Later, the building of the Fitness Center Gym and the Cedarholm Library were added to benefit the campus through his determined expertise.

In 1988 I went to join him at MBBC as Vice President for Administrative Affairs. Even though I have never had an accounting class in my life, I wound up as the Chief Financial Officer. I often said that I knew my main qualification for that aspect of my job was that he knew I was as tight as he was in financial matters. By the time I arrived the budget process and financial accountability were clearly established. For three years I supervised the financial office and was the person responsible to manage all the staff. One of my main responsibilities was to tell department leaders that if they spent all of their budget in the fall, there would be no more funding in the spring.

But it was in the supervision of the staff I met my greatest challenge in working for, and with, my friend, Bud. During all twenty years that I worked under him we had very few conflicts. Others at Maranatha had more difficulty than I did with his direct and powerful leadership style. Actually, I had few conflicts with him in this area – it was the task of being the go-between, and advisor to department leaders where I faced my greatest challenge.  

5 thoughts on “My Friend Bud – Part 5

  1. James Borland

    Gerry, as one who was hired by both Doc and Cedar and served at both Central Seminary and at Maranatha, I really appreciated your accounts and insights.

      1. James Borland

        Great, Gerry. I look forward to seeing that post too. Thanks for all the sharing. As one who lived through part of that history, and knew some of the players I found everything you said to be fascinating and so well expression also.

      2. Let me share a story with you. In 1967 I gave a workshop at a small youth workers conference at Tulsa Baptist Temple led by Roscoe Brewer. I along with a few others were invited because of our relationship to the legendary Don Nelson, former youth pastor under Doc Clearwaters.

        Elmer Towns was the featured speaker and I hung out with him for two days. Later Bud brought Elmer to Normal to give his famous Fastest Growing SS lecture. In 1971 I had him come to my church in St. Paul to give the same presentation.

        I think it was at Tulsa that Elmer said something I’ve never forgotten, and it has guided my writing. He said, “You guys are the youth workers and I am just the reporter telling the story.” Well, he became more than that, but I never forgot that example. He just tried to tell the story about those early church builders. He did one on Calvary in Normal early in the 70s.

  2. Thanks again for your thoughts. I plan to use your pic (as part of a collage) in the final episode. Still would like to visit with you when you have a chance. Text me at (252) 452-1112 if that is possible. No pressure.

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