Category Archives: Alumni

Wes Craven at Wheaton College

Elm Street — where nightmares undoubtedly occur — is located six blocks south of Wheaton College, but Wes Craven never lived in the last house on the left or anywhere else on that shaded lane. In fact, residing near the campus as a student, he rented rooms in Craven3three different homes at various times on Scott, President and Franklin streets. The wildly successful film director, who died of brain cancer at 76 on August 30, 2015, studied English at Wheaton College from 1957-63.  Raised in a strict Christian home in Cleveland, Ohio, his family was somewhat concerned that Wheaton College was “too liberal.” Inquisitive with a touch of the maverick, Craven was anxious to explore the power and passion of language, especially during the topsy-turvy 1960s. The March, 1962 Kodon, the Wheaton College literary magazine, sponsored a Creative Arts Festival with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gwendolyn Brooks as one of the judges. Craven won first prize in the short story category. Serving as editor for the Fall, 1962 Kodon, he prophetically writes:

This edition of KODON will be controversial. It was not planned to be so, and were things ideal, it would not raise a whisper of protest. But the ideal is never here. So be it. Besides, a controversy is healthy, I  feel, and constructive if carried on honestly and fairly. Let us hope that this will be the case in the consideration of this magazine’s contents….In addition, there is the conviction in this office that, in the arts, the Fundamental Christian world, and more specifically Wheaton, is sadly short of its potential and far behind its contemporaries. Therefore the copy of this magazine will remain (as long as the present staff remains), free and limited only by the criteria and the boundaries of artistry.

Braced for the fallout, Craven published two edgy-for-the-era stories, “A New Home,” by Marti Bihlmeier, about an unwed mother, and “The Other Side of the Wall” by Carolyn Burry, about an interracial couple. As predicted, the stories stirred discomfort in the campus community and were not well-received by the administration. Soon Dr. V. Raymond Edman, President of Wheaton College, informed Craven that he had failed in his duties as editor. Consequently, publication of Kodon was suspended for a year. Interestingly, this issue also features work by Jack Leax and Jeanne (Murray) Walker, who would enjoy successful careers as published poets and professors of literature.

As a senior Craven was stricken with Guillan-Barre syndrome, paralyzed for several months from the chest down, delaying his graduation by nearly a year. During this difficult time he was visited by friends and several strangers. “I remember feeling terribly down,” Craven told a reporter in a June 8, 1997 Chicago Tribune interview. “People I didn’t know came to visit, to pray for my recovery. Craven2To me, their thoughts and prayers represented the best side of Christianity. I’ll never forget that side of Wheaton College. Never.” A retired professor remembers Wes Craven as “a fine, serious-minded student” who excelled in Shakespeare and drama. In addition to deep, wide reading, Craven played guitar in a folk band.

Leaving Wheaton, he completed his graduate degree  in philosophy and writing at Johns Hopkins. He briefly taught school in New York before committing his prodigious talents to Hollywood. Specializing in horror franchises, his directorial debut was The Last House on the Left (1972). Craven went on to write or direct A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), Scream (1996) and the non-scary drama Music of the  Heart (1999), starring Meryl Streep, who garnered an Academy Award nomination for her performance. He also published a novel, The Fountain Society (1999) and co-scripted a graphic-novel series called Coming of Rage (2014).



Wheaton at the Edgewater

For fifty years the Edgewater Beach Hotel stood as a beacon for luxury, recreation and hospitality in a city renowned for its magnificent lodging. Famous as Chicago’s “Metropolitan Hotel with the Country Club Atmosphere,” the Edgewater boasted 1000 rooms, several cocktail lounges and five large dining rooms, in addition to nightly ballroom dancing. The grounds included an outdoor swimming pool, cabanas and tennis and shuffleboard courts.

EdgewaterSituated on the North Shore a few hundred feet from Lake Michigan, the massive pink stucco complex served a variety of visitors, vacationers and celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, Lena Horne, Judy Garland, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Tallulah Bankhead. Band leaders Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey broadcast from the hotel’s radio station. In addition to an array of dignitaries, the Edgewater even hosted the Wheaton College Washington Banquet on February 21, 1958. The cost was $11 per couple. The ceremony was emceed by Dr. Gerald Hawthorne, and the speaker for the evening was Dr. Edward Elsen, pastor to President Dwight D. Eisenhower at National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC.

Nearly 300 students and faculty attended, with Dr. and Mrs. Bernard Nelson portraying George and Martha Washington. The menu included fruit cocktail, baked sugar-cured ham with raisin sauce, salad, julienne string beans panache and frozen torte with chocolate sauce. Undoubtedly this was a thrilling, noisy night in the big city for the small Christian college from the western suburbs.

Sadly, because of urban renewal and a steady decline in business, the Edgewater Beach Hotel closed its doors in 1967. The buildings were razed in 1970 except for one, now refurbished as residential apartments with landmark status. The structures were so solidly constructed that it took nearly a year to demolish. That happy 1958 Washington Banquet, along with the grand old hotel, belong to fond memory.

Leanne Payne (June 26, 1932-February 18, 2015)

Leanne Payne, beloved author and teacher, died on Ash Wednesday, 2015. Honoring herLP worldwide ministry as a wise spiritual counselor and relentless prayer warrior, the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections present this invocation requesting fresh anointing from God for Christian service, used by Payne and her colleagues during Pastoral Care conferences:

Come, Holy Spirit, come.
Pour the living water in Your presence
on the thirsty ground of my heart.

Make rivers of living water flow
on the barren heights of my soul,
and springs well up within all its valleys.

I would receive power, Lord Jesus Christ, to be your witness
at home and throughout the earth.
Be thou in me the fountain of living water,
springing up unto everlasting life.

You have qualified me, Holy Father, to share in the inheritance
of the saints in the kingdom of light.
You have rescued me from the dominion of darkness
and brought me into the kingdom of Your dear Son
in whom I have redemption
the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1).
You have set Your seal upon me
Your Spirit in my heart as a deposit,
guaranteeing what is to come.
In Christ, I stand firm (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
For adoption in You, I give you thanks.
For this I praise your holy, gracious name.

And I praise You as the One who sends forth Your Spirit
upon those who trust in Your name:
“Thou the anointing Spirit art
Who Doest thy sev’nfold gifts impart.”

I ask You now for the baptism of the Holy Spirit,
and a full freedom to move in the power of your Spirit
to the glory of your Name and the advancement of Your kingdom.
I know, Lord, that the day is coming when
“the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory
of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Hebrews 2:14).
I rejoice in this, and ask that even now, Your Spirit
will fill me, cover me, and clothe me in this way.
I ask, also, for the grace and strength to so walk before You
that Your Holy Spirit will in no way be grieved or offended,
but will remain upon me; be ever pleased to rest upon me.

Father, for this baptism of Your Spirit,
one that will continue to well up from within me,
I give you thanks in advance.

It is in Jesus’ holy name that I pray and receive this blessing. Amen.

The papers of Leanne Payne (SC-125) are housed in the Wheaton College Special Collections in Wheaton, IL.


Miss Jean Leckemby

LeckembyThe following obituary appears in the August 13, 1948 Wheaton Record:

Miss Jean Leckemby, recorder of the registrar’s office, died from a skull fracture enroute to the hospital after the automobile she was driving collided with a truck the evening of August 6 in Wheaton. Other persons injured in the crash were Mrs. Winnie Hockman, housemother at Hiatt Hall, and Mrs. Gail P. Leckemby, mother of Jean. Mrs. Hockman was taken to Delnor Hospital, St. Charles, where she was treated for a sprained back. Mrs. Leckemby was bruised and is suffering from severe shock. Miss Leckemby held the position of recorder since her graduation from Wheaton in 1941. “Known and beloved by all how knew her for her quiet efficiency, cheerfulness, courtesy and dependability,” in the words of President V. Raymond Edman, Miss Leckemby “was devoted to the Lord’s work here at Wheaton and was a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Miss Leckemby, her mother and Mrs. Hockman were on their way to Moody Bible Institute to attend a relative’s graduation. The 1949 Wheaton College Tower is dedicated to her. As the years progress, even formal memorials do not sufficiently refresh the remembrance of worthy individuals. However, Miss Leckemby, beside her splendid testimony and dedication to Christ, left behind another reminder of her short life. Four scrapbooks, containing photos, programs, cards and correspondence, offer a poignant glimpse  into her happy years as a student at Wheaton College. The scrapbooks (SC-142) are housed in the Wheaton College Archives.

Selma and Wheaton College

The release of the 2014 film Selma, produced by Oprah Winfrey, has stimulated renewed vigorous conversation regarding the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the development of the Civil Rights movement. This article from the March 19, 1965 issue of The Record chronicles the brief but impactful journey of two Wheaton College students to those momentous events.

Two Wheaton seniors joined 2500 other civil rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama, a week ago Tuesday as they marched with Dr. Martin Luther King up U.S. Route 80 to the place where state troopers turned them back without incident. Leaving Wheaton Monday, March 8, after hearing of the brutalities Sunday afternoon, Randy Baker and Bob Vischer arrived in Selma by 11 a.m.  Tuesday, March 9. Explaining their motives for going, Vischer said, “I could think of no better way to express my concern than through action.” Upon their arrival in Selma, they found several hundred Negroes and whites – citizens, students, clergy, newsmen and polices – gathered in front of Brown Chapel. Entering the church, where another group of 300 to 400 were gathered, they heard various speakers, including many prominent religious leaders, talk for two or three hours.

As they left the church after Dr. King’s final admonitions, said Vischer, they were given instructions by a medical doctor as to precautions in case they should be tear-gassed, knocked unconscious or hurt with broken bones. As he and Baker marched in the front-quarter of the line, which ran four-abreast, someone told Vischer to take off his glasses. For the first time, he realized the real possibility of physical harm. “I began to see a little of the importance which the people of Selma and others in the march attached to the obtaining of equal rights,” he commented.

Confronting the state police about 200 yards across the Alabama river, King decided they would have a service of prayer and singing there instead of attempting to march through to Montgomery, having been influenced by federal mediation. After singing several verses of “We Shall Overcome” and listening to the prayers of several clergymen, the demonstration turned back to Selma. As they marched both to and from the place of confrontation with the troopers, Vischer recalled, “There was the knowledge that each of the 2500 in the march was dead serious about his task of bringing this injustice before the eyes of the nation and the world and that each was willing to risk death for this.”

After the march had been completed, Baker and Vischer encountered further danger as they went downtown to pick up their car to leave. As the two walked alone down the sidewalk, four white men stepped in front of them and asked where they were marching. Vischer stepped back and replied that they were not marching anywhere. But Baker, who did not step back, was grabbed by the largest and slugged on the side of the head. After Baker had pulled his coat away, the two started a fast walk across the street, but changed when they saw more men on the other side. “At this point,” remarked Vischer, “I felt I could empathize with the Alabama Negro, for here I was being pursued, and with no place to turn to. We felt alone and weaponless. I have never been so frightened in all my life.”

Later, however, the two stressed that undoubtedly the majority of the people of Selma would not have used violence against them or against the Rev. James Reeb, the minister who was killed later that afternoon. Yet, they said, “The scum who carried out these activities are supported by the system which presently exists – and this system must be smashed by a bold show of Christian love.”

True North

Market economies do an amazing job of providing goods and services that we enjoy on a regular basis. A stroll through your favorite supermarket, chain drugstore, or major department store—with countless products on display—clearly illustrates our grand array of choices. When we go to sleep at night, there are literally hundreds of millions of people around the world investing time and energy thinking about us, what we need and want, and how they can produce those things.

I get excited when I can help students appreciate the power of economic forces and understand how market economies work. But at the core of any market system is a concept of value that is egocentric, humanistic, and relativistic. Markets are defined by a sense of value that says, Things are worth what I say they are worth. This poses no little challenge to a Christian professor of economics.

I have come to believe that your greatest strength can also be your greatest weakness, and sometimes a real weakness, in another context, can actually work for you. Such is the case, I believe, with marketplace morality. The greatest weakness of markets is they are morally neutral—they can’t distinguish between penicillin or pornography, peanuts or prostitution, housing or heroin. In 2004 Americans spent $92.8 billion on gambling as compared to $38.7 billion on computers and peripherals. But markets are excellent mirrors for reflecting whatever values people bring to them. If we bring the right values to the marketplace, then that is what will be reflected back to us in the form of goods and services.

Over the last several years, I’ve been trying to synthesize a list of values that transcend pure economic individualism. Are there values that everyone can agree and aspire to? I offer these twelve:

• People are more important than things.
• Treat others as you want to be treated.
• Truth matters at all levels.
• Leave things a little better than you found them.
• People are looking for a cause to live for that is larger than themselves.
• Let freedom ring. (In the best companies, people don’t feel like slaves. They feel that they can have influence.)
• Community counts.
• Good laws will outlive good men.
• Value vocation. (Decide who you want to be, and let that drive what you do.)
• Life is a mix of duty and delight.
• Choice has consequence.
• Keep the core when all else is changing. (People will be better positioned to accept change when they know something isn’t changing fundamentally.)

I’m not suggesting that people have embraced these values to the point where they are fully integrated into economic activity, but people do want to live in an economic world where critical transcendent values operate throughout the system. This requires economic leadership, and leaders who know where to go. Our desire at Wheaton is for students to graduate with a recognition of knowing how to find “true north,” a keen sense for moral direction. It is the only way we can be truly pleased with all the outcomes of the marketplace.

Dr. Bruce Howard ’74, Professor of Business & Economics, is chair of the business and economics department of Wheaton College. He is a CPA, and earned his Ph.D. in economics and his M.S.A. in accounting from Northern Illinois University. Dr. Howard enjoys spending time with his family, and his hobbies include art, music (guitar and banjo), and playing tennis. He is also currently working on a book that elaborates on his 12 values for a moral marketplace. (The above statement was included at the time of publication — Wheaton Magazine, Winter 2006)


Has the pursuit of truth become irrelevant in the 21st century?

Truth matters—now more than ever. In recent years, I have watched the pursuit of truth wane in popular focus as well as intellectual discourse. A generation ago, Dr. Arthur Holmes ’50, M.A. ’52, encouraged graduates of Wheaton College to scrutinize carefully the truth in all realms of intellectual inquiry. Truth must emerge from biblical revelation in concert with the evidence God has proclaimed in His created order. Theory and evidence are married together, creating a symphony of insights that are relevant on and off campus.

I contend that the neglect of truth is potentially catastrophic for world civilizations, for truth is the gravity that draws human beings to the holiness of our Lord. Truth matters even more in a diverse, complex, and violent world for individuals and social systems alike.

Our Lord stated that possessing the truth makes us free. There has never been a riper time for Christians to pursue knowledge and truth than in this age of confusion. Talk shows promulgate specious ideas without sanctions. Other media outlets regress to levels of simplicity that often border on stupidity. Prophetic voices are muted by vacuous sound bites and petty sensationalism throughout popular culture. Like an epidemic of
obesity for the mind caused by the junk food of ideas, we languish in confusion as great visions and ideals atrophy under the oppression of relativism or the utter foolishness of dogmatism. The Columbia University historian, Jacques Barzun, has suggested in a recent monograph that our civilization has moved toward moral decadence. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned us generations ago about living in an age of guided missiles and misguided human beings.

Into this conceptual chaos, the students of Wheaton College must be educated to pursue truth, while recognizing the inherent biases, limitations, wounds, and pathologies of the human condition. Redemption must triumph over idiocy. Truth crushed to the ground must rise again. Good must prevail over evil, as Dr. Roger Depue (a Christian and former organizational leader of the FBI’s legendary Behavioral Science Unit) concludes in his recent book, Between Good and Evil, after decades of confronting the most horrendous evils among humankind.

At Wheaton, the legacy of Drs. Art Holmes, Merrill C. Tenney HON, Sam Schultz HON, Zondra Lindblade ’55, Norman Ewert, Donald Lake ’59, M.A. ’60, and many others, has created an intergenerational tapestry of truth where the integration of faith and learning can extend Christ’s kingdom to the problems of urban schools, crime, missions, inequalities, and churches.

Truth always matters at Wheaton College.

Dr. Henry Lee Allen ’77, Professor of Sociology, teaches courses on the sociology of education, criminology, and urban sociology. He has consulted with the National Education Association, the FBI Academy, the American Bible Society, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the Federal Correctional Facility in Pekin (Ill.), the Kettering Foundation, and the Aspen Institute. Dr. Allen has published many scholarly articles about the sociology of higher education and faith and learning. (The above statement was included at the time of publication — Wheaton Magazine, Spring 2007)

Gold Star Profile: William Rees Lloyd

ReesIn honor of Veteran’s Day, the following article is reproduced from a 1947 newspaper, profiling Wheaton College Gold Star veteran William Rees Lloyd, killed in action on May 6, 1942, during World War II.

Ensign William Rees Lloyd, USNR, son of Mr. and Mrs. Elias R. Lloyd of Monticello, has been issued his permanent citation for his Navy Cross from the Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, for the President. Ensign Lloyd earned the award during the final Japanese assult on Corregidor. Lloyd consistently disregarded all personal danger as he directed his men with unfaltering skill and ingenuity in the defense of his assigned beach area.

Rees was further recognized when a destroyer escort vessel was named in his honor. The U.S.S. Lloyd was christened in the Charleston Navy Yard in South Carolina. His mother, Mrs. Ella Lee Lloyd, performing the christening, remarked, “I hope that the ship will carry on the work until God gives us peace.” Representing Wheaton College was Harold Lindsell, Rees’s classmate, then teaching at Colombia Bible College. As a student at Wheaton, Lloyd was a member of the Excelsior Literary Society. He participated in track, cross-country and junior varsity football; and in his senior year he placed among the “pre-meds.”



Through Winding Ways

BirdThe following text, describing Wheaton College founder, Jonathan Blanchard, and his son, Charles, is excerpted from the prologue to Through Winding Ways (1939) by Zenobia Bird (Laura LeFevre). This is one of at least three novels, including The Tower, The Mask and the Grave (2000) by Betty Smartt Carter and The Silver Trumpet (1930) by John Wesley Inglis, featuring Wheaton College as its setting.

A man stood looking at a lone college building, small, plain, but sturdily built — his citadel, and then he turned and gazed long and far into the distant future. The wide prairie, flat and treeless, stretched out before him. That huddle of houses was the nearby village, while here and there an occasional farmhouse with young orchard and freshly planted shade trees gladdened the view and broke the monotony of the miles.

He was not given to dreaming, this pioneer from rock-ribbed Vermont, but a mighty vision gripped his soul. He was a born educator and an evangelist. The low hill upon which he stood was consecrated ground, dedicated in prayer to the cause of Christian education. Others had chosen the spot and launched the venture, but God had called him to captain the enterprise and lead on to vaster endeavor. As he looked with kindling eyes down the vista of the years, in vision he saw them, a troop of young men and women trained in the college that was to be, and going out as laborers in the Master’s vineyard to win souls for Christ and His Kingdom.

A quarter of a century rolled by, and in his place stood another Valiant-for-Truth, his son. Part of the dream of father and son has been fulfilled. On the hill now rose a stately white stone edifice of noble proportions, not supplanting, but surrounding and embodying in itself that which first had been. In the forefront of the building a Norman tower of simple beauty and dignity overlooked all the landscape. The bell in the turret was cast for its own noble purpose and bore in Latin the motto of the college, “For Christ and His Kingdom.”

This man for long years labored indefatigably to build a great college that would honor and glorify the Savior of the world. With painstaking care he laid the foundation solidly on the Rock, Christ Jesus himself the chief cornerstone. Into the spiritual structure, as real to the builder as the college walls of cut stone, there was built with purpose sure the sincere teaching of the Word of God.


Full Circle

FullCircleThe 1960s were years of dizzying upheaval for the United States. Its citizens wearied of the complex, seemingly endless war in Viet Nam. University students experimented with radical philosophies and mind-altering drugs. Racial tensions tightened in the inner city, often exploding. Popular music, particularly rock and roll, assumed an edgier attitude, reflecting the spirit of protest. As culture-shattering challenges shook the American psyche, the church did not remain unscathed. Amid the turmoil, David Mains, formerly assistant pastor at Moody Church in Chicago, with his wife, Karen, determined that the moment was right to implement a “creative” congregation on the edge of the ghetto, using all the gifts of its membership while aggressively reaching the socially disenfranchised and those disillusioned by local churches. Under Mains’ leadership, Circle Church began in 1967 with 28 people. Four years later Circle Church’s membership climbed to 500 congregants,  comprising students, high-rise apartment dwellers and ghetto inhabitants. Mains tells the story in Full Circle (1971). As the years progressed, however, Circle Church began to slowly unravel. Mains picks up the story in a 2004 Christianity Today essay called “Presumption at Circle Church.” He writes, “Today I am embarrassed about some of the attitudes expressed in Full Circle. I still have the same principles, but my comments seem cocky and presumptuous. I saw Circle Church as the tip of a new wave that would sweep across evangelical churches. That didn’t happen. Circle Church still exists, but in a smaller form and with more specialized emphasis.” Mains cites several reasons for the failure of Circle Church, expounding on each point. 1) I often allowed myself to fixate on issues. 2) I was naive about social problems. 3) In encouraging others’ gifts, I minimized my leadership role. 4) I held onto the church too tightly.

“The best thing that happened to me in leaving Circle Church was the breaking of my pride,” Mains writes. “During the breaking time, I felt rejected by the church that I had poured my life and soul into for ten years. For a brief time I questioned my faith in God. I wondered if I could trust him again.” He concludes,”More than a year passed after I left Circle Church before I began to feel like a man again. I have since sensed a new filling of the Holy Spirit, which was the result of a complete surrender to God. The process taught me to put confidence not in myself but in the Lord. As never before I identify with Paul’s words, ‘His strength is made perfect in my weakness.'”

Though Mains expresses a measure of remorse, his experiment in the Chicago ghetto, using liturgy, art and lively worship, waved a banner of salvation and hope for many, while providing a template for later generations of churches employing similar principles.

In 1977 Mains assumed the position of director for the Chapel of the Air, with Karen acting as co-host of the syndicated radio broadcast. Both have authored several books. Their papers (SC-118) are housed at Wheaton College Special Collections at Wheaton College (IL).