University of Dubuque Honors Alumni/ae

Oct 11, 2007 | University of Dubuque Theological Seminary

On Saturday, October 27, the University of Dubuque will honor five outstanding alumni/ae - Barbara (Weber) Blinks (C'64), Dale L. Brubaker (C'43) ,Nancy Kringle (C'85), Silas Kessler (C'32/S'34), and Seven E. Wirth (C'75/S'78) - as a part of the 2007 Homecoming Celebration. Awards will be presented during the Alumni/ae Dinner at the Grand River Center. 

2007 Professional Achievement Award 
Awarded to a University of Dubuque alumnus/alumna after 15 years of graduation for significant contributions and achievement in his/her chosen professional field. 

Dale L. Brubaker (C'43) 
The Reverend Dale Brubaker graduated from the University of Dubuque in 1942 and he hit the ground running! As a member of Chi Epsilon Phi (a pre-theology fraternity) Dale occasionally served the pulpit supply for small churches around the Dubuque area. Dale went on to become ordained by Freeport Presbytery at Second Presbyterian Church in Freeport, IL; his home church. After his ordination, Dale accepted a call as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Rochester, IN, where he sponsored the University of Life program in biblical studies and other courses related to the Christian life. The program became highly successful and was greatly supported by the community. 

The 1950s began with a call to Waltham Presbyterian Church, an open country church located midway between Ottawa, La Salle, and Mendota, IL. During the next five years, Dale created and developed the first drive-in summer vesper services in the country, which averaged attendance of 500-600 worshipers for 15 years. The following two years Dale served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Canton, IL where he helped initiate the first mission study tours and work camps for high school youth. This and other innovative youth programs in mission and church education led the way for Dale to be called to serve the General Assembly's Board of Christian Education in Philadelphia. 

Dale was an innovative task group member of the planning and development committees for the Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. He also became involved with the Synod of Arizona as its field director during the mid 60s to early 70s. It was during this time that Dale initiated and developed the Arizona Experiment in Biblical Studies and Teaching. Dale was eventually elected as Moderator of the Synod of Arizona. 

Through Dale's hard work and dedication to the church, he helped many youth go on to bigger and better things. Many of the children who attended Dale's camps and educational programs even attended the University of Dubuque. Although he freely comments that support and help has come from many people, there was always enthusiastic support, suggestion, humor and fun in all his endeavors from his beloved late wife Catherine "Katie" and his family. 

2007 Volunteer Recognition Award 
Awarded to University of Dubuque alumnus /alumna for outstanding contributions to the University in a volunteer capacity. 

Barbara (Weber) Blinks (C'64) 
Since her graduation from the University of Dubuque, Barbara has been on the Alumni Board, Special Events Committee of the Alumni Board, and has served as College Alumni Representative to the Board of Trustees. An involved alumna, she has also participated in fund raising, phone surveys, and class reunions. Barbara is a member of the University of Dubuque's Heritage Society and the Dubuque Chapter of the Alumni Association. 

For 32 years, Barbara has helped students develop skills to become life-long learners. Barbara's work and dedication for improving children's education has touched many lives. Some of Barbara's notable professional highlights include helping initiate library services in elementary schools in the Dubuque Community School District, selecting books for the original learning centers in Hoover and Eisenhower Elementary Schools, contributing to the design of the learning center at Kennedy Elementary School, reviewing children's books for a professional publication for librarians, School Library Journal, evaluating books for the Iowa Children's Choice Award program, participating in the production of library skills audiovisual materials for Encyclopedia Britannica and serving on regional media selection committees. Barbara also had the pleasure of being a delegate to the Governor's Pre-White House Conference on Libraries. Bringing her love of elementary education, Barb combined her passion with higher education by teaching a course on children's literature at Clarke College. 

Barbara has been an active member of Delta Kappa Gamma, a society of women educators and a member of P.E.O., an educational and philanthropic organization. An important part of Barbara's life is the church. Barbara is a dedicated member and elder of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dubuque. Barbara also volunteers with the Dubuque County Historical Society, Order of Eastern Star, Friends of the Library, Dubuque Symphony Orchestra League, and the Dubuque Area Retired School Personnel Association. She is a former member of the board of directors at St. Mark Community Center, works as a guide at the Mathias Ham House Historic Site, and assists at the information desk at Carnegie Stout Public Library.

When she is not volunteering her time to her community, church, or alma mater, she enjoys spending time with her family. Barbara and Edwin have been married for 39 years, and she is blessed to have both of her parents still living. Barbara has also attained membership in Beta Phi Mu (a national fraternity of librarians), been included in Outstanding Young Women of America and Who's Who in American Education, and was recognized for leadership by Central's Alternative High School's "Women on the Move" program. 

2007 Service to Community Award 
Awarded to an alumnus/alumna of the University of Dubuque who has demonstrated a clear commitment to serving the community through notable volunteerism, an outstanding act of selflessness, or a demonstrated pattern of service to humanity. 

Nancy Kringle (C'85) 
Graduating from the University of Dubuque in 1985, Nancy has continually been involved in service to her alma mater and the Dubuque community. An enthusiastic basketball fan, Nancy rarely misses a home University of Dubuque game. Few fans are as dedicated as Nancy; she makes a point to get to know the players and their families. But there is more to Nancy than being a super fan, she went on to serve on the University of Dubuque Alumni Board for six years. 

As a part of her work on the University of Dubuque Alumni Board, she served as both a member and chairperson of the Special Events Committee for 10 years - planning various events in the Dubuque area for alumni and friends of the University. Nancy has also worked hard on the Dubuque Community fundraising campaign. Nancy's dedication and hard work stretches out to her community as well. 

Nancy is involved in St. Joseph the Worker Church - serving as a music minister since 1996, working as a liturgy committee member since 2004, and serving on the Social Concerns committee for several years are just a few of the ways she volunteers. Nancy also keeps busy volunteering at Folklore Village in Dodgeville, WI, where she works as a cook, dishwasher, and gardener. Other organizations she has been involved in include the Dubuque Battered Women Program, and the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens where, for several years, she adopted a garden plot. 

Currently, Nancy makes weekly visits to the residents at Ennoble Manor Retirement Center with her dog Pippy. She views one of her most notable accomplishments as completing the Lay Formation Program in May of 2002 through the Archdiocese of Dubuque. This three-year program is designed to form lay people to be leaders in various capacities of their church. For over twenty years Nancy has served as a Distribution Clerk for Air Liquide in East Dubuque and has been an Avon Representative since 1994. Nancy enjoys bicycling, hiking, gardening, camping, folk dancing, and playing the recorder. 

2007 Alumnus of Distinction Award 
Awarded to alumnus/alumna of the University of Dubuque - College or Seminary - who have distinguished themselves in service to the whole church and/or world. 

Silas Kessler (C'32/S'34) 
While attending the University of Dubuque, Silas participated in Pi Kappa Delta, the Phi Omicron fraternity, the college choir, and served as the yearbook editor in 1932. After graduating from the University of Dubuque during the middle of the Great Depression, Silas returned to the University of Dubuque in 1941 and received a Doctor of Divinity degree. Silas' father, the Reverend J.G. Kessler, preached the sermon at the original dedication of the "Old Chapel" also known as Alumni Hall, which is in its 100th year in 2007. A dedicated alumnus, Silas served as a member of the University of Dubuque Board of Trustees, was granted the LLD (Doctor of Laws) degree in 1964, and received the Manning Award in 1976. Silas also is a long standing member of the Heritage Society. 

Silas' list of professional highlights is extensive. He served as Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Hastings, NE for 36 years, was president of the Nebraska Council of Churches for two years, a member of the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation Board, the first elected Moderator of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, Moderator of the General Assembly (PC USA) in 1963. After retiring in 1976, Silas went on to serve as an interim pastor for 15 additional churches. 

Taking his service to the community and the larger world, Silas was also a member of the Kiwanis for over 35 years, a member of the Salvation Army Board, and a member of the board for the Hastings Literacy Program. Taking his ministry into the world, Silas preached an inaugural sermon for the establishment of Presbyterian Church of Chili, led a conference of Coptic pastors for a week in Egypt, and attended a summer institute at Mansfield, Oxford, and St. Andrews, Scotland. One of the most memorable experiences Silas remembers is participating as Guest Minister for two Sundays in a church in Beruit and spending a week in the Holy Land. 

2007 Herbert E. Manning, Jr. Distinctive Service Award 
The Herbert E. Manning, Jr. Distinctive Service Awards recognize UDTS alumni/alumnae who demonstrate exceptional contributions in Christian ministry. Recipients model servant leadership, courageous convictions, a spirit of witness, and a faithful obedience as they contribute significantly to the Church universal, the Seminary, and all of God's people. 

Seven E. Wirth (C'75/S'78) 
Steven E. Wirth graduated from the University of Dubuque in 1975 and went on to graduate from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in 1978. In his 28-year ministry, Steve has listened for God's call and responded faithfully. Each call from God led to places and experiences he did not imagine. Each one was filled with a wide assortment of wonderful people and challenging ministry. At each growing step, Steve became known for quickly analyzing challenging situations, making the hard decisions and finding creative, outside-the-box solutions to move people forward. 

Steve served as the first seminary intern at Pacific Beach Church in San Diego, CA. He was called back a year later as associate pastor and served there for four years. He then went on to pastor Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian, a 2500 member church in the Bay area for 10 years where his ministry truly flourished. Steve helped grow Children's Ministry from 300 to 600 children, he led a team that built the Single's Ministry to over 5000 subscribers to its monthly newsletter and had over 500 people attending a Sunday evening program. Steve was the only one out of five associate pastors who remained as a stable influence during the entire four-year transition in which a 24-year pastor retired. Steve was asked to close out the interim period, as head of staff for six months. During this period, he also started a Doctor of Ministry degree program at San Francisco Theological Seminary that he completed in 1994. 

In 1992 Steve became pastor of Lakewood First Presbyterian church where he has led the way in multicultural ministry in the PCUSA by merging with Grace Presbyterian Church, a Japanese American congregation in nearby Paramount. Deciding on the new church's name, Grace First Presbyterian, was one of the hardest parts of the merger. 

Just as Grace First was launching a $1 million capital campaign, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. Steve challenged his congregation to donate their entire million dollars to rebuild churches in the Gulf. They have surpassed their goal, and are actively assisting churches in Mississippi and New Orleans to rebuild. 

For the past 8 years Steven has been an active leader on the Camp Fire USA Long Beach Council. For 4 years, he chaired the Personnel Committee, helping to redesign the performance review process, creating new job descriptions and totally revamping the compensation structure. He went on to be elected Board President in 2005 and instituted a comprehensive strategic planning process that resulted in a $3-4 million campaign to create a state-of-the-art, urban forest and "green" program building on their five acre day camp. 

Steven is one of the longest tenured pastors in the Los Ranchos Presbytery where he currently chairs the Permanent Judicial Commission. He enjoys spending time with his wife Katharin and his son Alex, playing golf, traveling to foreign countries, and raising orchids. 

The University of Dubuque is a private, coeducational, professional university with a focus in the liberal arts. Our commitment to encouraging students to explore their fullest potential is part of a rich Christian heritage that dates back to the University's founding in 1852.