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Bob and Alice Strobel

Bob and Alice Strobel

Bob and Alice Strobel lived in New Brighton in a spacious home within minutes of United and were on hand at United's opening day of classes in 1962. United recruited the couple from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where Bob was completing his Doctor of Education and Alice was employed as secretary to Union's president.

Bob was a founding member of the faculty of the new seminary, born of a merger between Yankton School of Theology and Mission House Seminary. While the majority of United's original faculty came from Mission House and the Reformed church, Bob was a Yankton College alumnus representing the German Congregational tradition. He established the Christian Education courses at United and taught them throughout his career.

A reserve chaplain in the United States Air Force, Bob traveled around the world leading workshops in education for military chaplains. Former colleague Clyde Steckel recalls that Bob, a licensed pilot with ownership of a plane, often took faculty members and students on flights around the area.

Meanwhile, Alice was making her own mark at United. In his book United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, An Ecumenical Venture (1993), Arthur Merrill, professor emeritus, said of Alice, "She was the living memory of the institution; if you wanted to know what or when or how or whom, she could answer or lead you in the right direction."

From her years as founding registrar at United, Alice carried student records in her head, and when she happened to run into one of her charges in the lunchroom, she might warn him or her on the spot to sign up for a particular class at the earliest opportunity or risk failing to meet graduation requirements.

Unconstrained by her job description, Alice lent a helping hand in other areas of student life as well. She once told of a single mother from Iowa who was unable to enroll at United because she couldn't find housing for herself and her three children. As Alice was encouraging the prospective student, a call came in from a landlady in the neighborhood looking for a "Christian tenant." Alice asked if she would accept a mother and three children, the landlady agreed, and the new student completed her enrollment. In recognition of this sort of service, at an event in 2003, United expressed its appreciation to Alice for her many years as "founding registrar, wonderful friend, and dedicated administrator."

The Strobels retired in 1987 after serving United for 25 years. Speaking of the seminary community she and Bob knew and loved, Alice once said simply, "We were very close."

However, the Strobels' contributions to United did not end with retirement. Their donation to a capital campaign in 1992 led to the establishment of the well-used Strobel Room. Before Bob's death in 2004, he and Alice decided to make a gift of $1 million to United whenever a real estate property they owned was sold. Alice also made a $1 million gift to United in her late husband's memory and directed it be used to support the ongoing the mission and work of United and help secure its future.

Then-president Kita McVay said, "Bob and Alice Strobel have given generously of their time, their talents, and their treasure in order to advance United's work of preparing women and men for ministry in the church and world. This extraordinary gift will help ensure the continuation of that work. The United community joins me in profound gratitude for the Strobels' remarkable dedication and contributions-as teacher, administrator, donor, and beloved friend."

United remembers Bob and Alice fondly and is grateful for their thoughtful and generous support.


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