Taking Time with Paul Edward Waggoner

For the month of October, we are highlighting the more “senior” members of our community at Bethany, many in their tenth decade. Some may not worship regularly with us but all continue to be rich examples of faithful lives. They were invited to share a favorite verse, a story from their lives where they experienced God, or a piece of encouragement.

Take a moment to read their words and be encouraged by the wisdom and grace in our church family.

“Do your duty and it will pan out somehow.”Paul Edward Waggoner

Appanoose, Iowa, to Connecticut, and Seattle

If you take the time to read Paul Waggoner’s autobiography, you will read a rich history of immigration, a tragic steamboat accident, travel by cov­ered wagon, the Dust Bowl, and a life transformed by education.

Paul’s parents were devout Christians, his grandmother a “roaring Baptist.” One of his sons is a pastor. His two favorite hymns are “The Old Rugged Cross,” and another one that he used to hear his uncle sing as he hauled corn in a small bouncy wagon in Iowa: “I Come to the Garden Alone.”

As Paul tells it, he learned to keep his eyes open and his options open. His family had a busi­ness of farming and providing poultry supplies. While carrying a wooden carton of eggs one day, he noticed that the farmer had cushioned the eggs with a newspaper at the bottom. “A story in the paper caught my attention. The State Meteorologist of the Weather Bureau, who was a mathematical statistician, had inspired Iowa State College in Ames to create a program 1n agricultural climatology. “I promptly went to Ames,” he said, “was interviewed and was accept­ed. When I left, Dad had tears in his eyes, but he never voiced arguments or objections to my choice, not once. He was a quiet man.”

He met his wife, Barbara Lockerbie, not a small town girl, but from a fine suburb of Milwaukee. They had two sons, Von, a minister in Peoria, and Dan, a lawyer here in Seattle. Now there are several grandchildren and great grandchildren.

In 1962, Dr. Paul Waggoner gave the opening speech to the “Lockwood Conference on the Suburban Forest and Ecology attended by eleven distinguished botanists, ecologists, foresters, naturalists and agronomists.” He concluded, “In this time of tumult, in this era of miraculous productivity, lies the opportunity to attain a long-sought goal. This goal of conservationists, in­herited through Thoreau, Muir, Pinchot, and Roosevelt, is the freeing of land from tillage and its restoration to perennial plants.”

Paul recalls the day he listened to his son Dan who was deciding whether or not to leave his own law practice to take a good job with a wireless company. “It did not sound right to me,” Paul said. He then encouraged his son in a most colorful way. “I think of you as a solitary gun­slinger,” he said, “not tied down to one thing.” Imagine your father describing you in such a powerful way! Dan stayed in his own law practice and prospered there.

When asked what advice he might give to younger people today, he said,” Do your duty and it will pan out somehow.”

Coordinated by Mary Van Eaton, Photos by April Huizenga, Interviews by Kristy Champagne.

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