Dr. Richard Dilling, professor mathematics and science at Grace College for 45 years, and William Darr, director of Morgan Library for 35 years, are both retiring from the faculty of Grace College and Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana, this year. Both men have made a significant impact on Grace College’s campus and will be greatly missed.
Dilling said that he “started teaching here in the fall of .” Since then, he has been involved at Grace in many ways. His first interaction with the school was by attending seminary classes. During this time, Grace College was growing and needed a math and science teacher. Since he had previously completed a degree in physics and mathematics Education at Shippensburg State College, as well as a masters and doctorate degree at Purdue University, Dilling was asked to fill the position. At first, he was only part-time faculty, but that soon changed.
Dilling has taught many courses at Grace, including physics, physical science, probability and statistics, calculus, and mathematical models, among others. He said that after his first experiences teaching, he “found that [he] could do it and enjoy it.” Dilling has always been interested in math and science. He said he cares about his students and enjoys teaching math and science because he is passionate about “encouraging students to think and reason out problems” for themselves.
Dilling said that he is retiring because he feels like it is time. He had been planning on doing it a year ago, but decided to stay on after another professor left so as not to leave Grace in a difficult position, causing the mathematics program to suffer. Since Grace recently decided to hire Dr. Kristin Farwell, an additional mathematics professor, Dilling said that he felt it was okay to retire. He accepted the buyout package the school offered, and is considering moving to Florida after next year.
In addition to Dr. Dilling retiring, after 35 years of unrelenting service to Grace College at Morgan Library, Bill Darr is also retiring this year. He will be handing the position of Library Director over to Rhoda Palmer.
For Darr, it’s not so much what he will do after retirement as what he has done. Anyone who knows him knows also that he has a knack for stories both shocking, hilarious and heartwarming, but all true. And after spending over three decades from 1976 to 2011 at Grace, he has seen a significant amount of change over the years. “There have been many changes,” reflects Darr, calling up images from past years at Morgan. Not too long ago, notes Darr, “if you were doing research it was a very laborious process.” When Darr came to the library, nothing was digital. It was all hand work. “Sometimes we talk about ‘the good old days’; but research was not very fun in the good old days!” he says. Even student IDs took many days and many complicated processes to make. Now, computers do most of the work that it once took 25-30 people to do. “That’s one reason why I’m retiring,” says Darr. “The computers and I just don’t get along sometimes.”
But books and computers aren’t the only things Darr has had professional experience with. Few students know it, but he has also been on duty as an EMT in the ambulance service almost as long as he’s been with the library. Since 1977 he’s been at the scene of hundreds if not thousands of medical emergencies, some hilarious some horrific. Though he retired from EMT work in 2009, Darr still uses his knowledge to teach CPR classes to the Warsaw/Winona Lake community.
Darr has been working hard since he was young. “I’ve been working since I was twelve,” he says adding that, throughout his undergraduate career, he worked 20-50 hours a week at a foundry. But, four advanced degrees from six different schools have paid their due and Darr is ready to begin something new. A sincere history guru, Darr says that he plans to continue studying local history and collecting and archiving data. He wants to spend some time down South and maybe even help with the harvesting at his family’s farm in Iowa. Darr’s father, the late Shimer Darr, was a Grace Brethren pastor for many years.
Also retiring from the Grace Seminary faculty this year is Dr. Ken Bickel, who has headed the D.Min. program at the seminary. In addition to his teaching, Bickel has been serving on the staff of a Grace Brethren church in Howe, Indiana. Bickel has also been quite active with the Association of Grace Brethren Ministers (AGBM), including helping to craft a code of ethics for Grace Brethren pastoral leaders.