Dorm Parent to Student to Instructor to Church Ministry to Camp Ministry to Seniors Ministry, perhaps she’ll never find herself in retirement
The majority of Boise Bible College students arrive recently out of high school, but some are recruited well into life! Geraldine “Jerry” Belle and Wayne Dake arrived at Boise Bible College in the summer of 1975 to serve as dorm parents. Their two girls had left the nest to attend college.
In the spring of 1975, the Dakes were in Pocatello with a small group doing repair work on a church building. There they met the Vanderbeek family from the Treasure Valley who was also volunteering. They told of a need for dorm parents; after inquiring about it, the Dakes decided to “give it a whirl.” They moved from Pablo, Montana, that summer and committed to two years as dorm parents. They loved the environment, students, faculty, and staff. Wayne did a lot of carpentry work and volunteered for most anything needing to be done around the college. He even found time to help with the construction of the new Boise Children’s Home Ranch. Jerry assisted Bonita Dusenbury in the kitchen for a year.
In the fall of 1976, at the age of 42, Jerry started attending classes full-time. In her second year, she was hired as Kenny Beckman’s secretary and Christian Education Director at First Church of Christ on Castle Drive, where she would serve for 16 years. This took her schooling to part-time; for the next eight years, Jerry took two or three classes each semester until she graduated in 1985 with a BRE (Bachelors of Religious Education). Now at 52, she was a college graduate!
Jerry spent ten years teaching Christian Education classes at BBC under the guidance of Carl Anderson. These were good and busy times. Many students still today remember the principles of education she taught and her passion for doing it well.
Wayne built cabinets, mowed the weeds, and helped as cabins were built. They were a team helping the camp grow for 18 years. The last five years, they broke their son-in-law and daughter into the manager role and were great advisors and helpers even then as they begin to consider retirement.
In October of 2011, Wayne and Jerry moved to the Christian Retirement Home in Boise. She hasn’t stopped doing ministry there, washing dishes, cooking, organizing activities, and teaching Sunday school in the church that meets at the Home. She also helps to transport other residents without cars to their appointments. She and Wayne were married for 64 years at his passing in January of 2018. She is blessed with two daughters, Susan Harrison and Judy Finder, their spouses, seven grandchildren, twenty-one great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild!
Jerry has fond memories of the professors. She says, “The professors were all super. Having a love of teaching, Zella Chamberlain impacted me greatly. But no more so than Kenny Beckman, Lee and Pat Magness, Chuck Faber, and Dale Cornett. I have so much respect for each of them and am thankful for all they taught me.”
The events most loved by Jerry were the group meetings at the professors’ homes and the camping trips that kicked off the school year. “Such great times of fellowship!” She remembers the Zeloti Women’s Group consisting of the professors’ wives as awe-inspiring and said, “Who can’t love being around Patti Faber, Janine Cornett, and Carolee Ewing?”
She remembers the best prank of all and recalls that now professor Danny Harrod was responsible. Danny was in Mr. Beckman’s 7:00am class that met in the small classroom next to the stage, just off of what is now the gym. He “borrowed” a burro from the pasture adjoining the BBC campus and shut him in the classroom before Mr. Beckman arrived. It took two or three days to fumigate the room before it could be used again!
Boise Bible College taught Jerry how to study, write lessons, teach, live the Christian life, and the importance of putting Jesus first. Over her lifetime, she has been a professor, CE director, camp manager, bookkeeper, trainer of teachers in churches in Montana, Idaho, Colorado, and Oregon, and site manager at the Senior Center in Fairfield. She has always has been available to teach all ages, from children and youth to seniors.
It was June Beeman who inspired her to teach. Shortly after Jerry became a Christian, June visited their small church in Montana and did a teacher training session, and Jerry was so impressed that she was inspired to go to Bible college years later. At the time, June’s husband was the president of Platte Valley Bible College (now Summit Christian College. Elwood Beeman also served one year as president of BBC).
Today, if you don’t find Jerry in the kitchen helping or teaching a Bible study, she might be sewing, playing the mandolin, or reading. She is very involved in encouraging other residents of the Christian Retirement Home. When asked about her future plans, she replied, “Stay involved at the Home and plan to head “home” as soon as the Lord sees fit.”
She holds the four pillar values of Boise Bible College “dearly”:
- Scholarship – she is always learning
- Community – she lives in and for those she lives with
- Humility – Jerry just does what she can do without any fanfare
- Innovation – Even now, she is not afraid to do what it takes to love others
She recommends Boise Bible College for all who desire a closer walk with the Lord and says, “They stick to the Word and walk the talk – great examples to follow.”