Bill and Doris Menzies

William and Doris Menzies

Dr. William W. Menzies and his wife, Doris Dresselhaus Menzies, both went to be with the Lord in the past few months.

Bill Menzies was widely known in Pentecostal and evangelical circles as a statesman, building bridges across denominational and racial divides. He was one of the organizers of the Society for Pentecostal Studies and was the first editor of the society’s journal, Pneuma. He was also one of the editors for the Full Life Study Bible and a consulting editor for Christianity Today. He held teaching and administrative positions at Central Bible College (Springfield, Missouri), Evangel University (Springfield, Missouri), the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (Springfield, Missouri), California Theological Seminary (Fresno, California) and Asia Pacific Theological Seminary (Baguio City, Philippines).

Menzies’ dissertation at the University of Iowa became the benchmark history of the Assemblies of God, Anointed to Serve (GPH, 1971). He was a prolific author, authoring or editing standard textbooks such as Understanding the Times of Christ (GPH, 1969), Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective (GPH, 1993) and Spirit and Power (Zondervan, 2000).

Menzies’ two sons, Glen and Robert, went on to earn their doctoral degrees and have become respected educators in the Assemblies of God. Glen and Robert authored the following accounts of their parents’ lives and ministries, which they read at their funerals.

Dr. William W. Menzies (July 1, 1931 – August 15, 2011)

Glen: My name is Glen Menzies, and my brother Bob and I would like to thank all of you for coming today. Many of you were dear, dear friends of both our parents for decades, and now that they are part of that “great cloud of witnesses” mentioned in Hebrews 12:1, I’m sure both Mom and Dad are looking down fondly from heaven above on today’s activities.

Bob: Less than three months ago many of you gathered with our family to commemorate the passing of our mother. Sadly, Dad was not able to attend Mom’s funeral. Four days before my mother died, Dad experienced a dissection of his aorta, which ultimately led to his death.

I’d like to thank those of you who visited both Mom and Dad when they were in the hospital or the nursing home. If there was ever an illustration that the word “church” doesn’t mean a building, I have seen it in your faithful ministry to our parents outside the walls of this building.

Mom and Dad were married for almost 56 years. Mom’s death separated them for a short time, but now they have been reunited, and they are with Jesus. It seems fitting that the closing chapters of their lives have ended on the same page.

Glen: Dad was born in New Kensington, PA. He was born to William and Sophie Menzies and was named after his father.

William Sr., my grandpa, had earned a degree in electrical engineering from Penn State and he was engaged in both engineering and church planting. He would work for a while in engineering and save up some money. Then he would quit his job and build a church building. Grandma would play her trombone, both Grandpa and Grandma would preach, and when they got enough people coming to support a regular pastor, Grandpa would turn the church over to the pastor and go back to engineering and saving up money.

Eventually, the family moved to Dayton, Ohio, which is really where my dad grew up.

One of dad’s passions as he was growing up was ham radio, and he continued to hold an amateur radio operator’s license until the day he died. He loved building receivers, transmitters, match-boxes and antennas. I remember him telling me once about a neighborhood friend who also loved to build things. Unfortunately, his parents wouldn’t let him own a screwdriver. They wanted him to grow up to earn a living with his head, not his hands. So this friend would sneak over to Dad’s place whenever he needed to use a screw-driver.

I think this story explains something important about Dad. His attitude was: Why not be good with both your head and with your hands? Dad wasn’t very interested in either mindless labor or in abstract theory that never connected with real life. He appreciated good theology, but good theology for him also meant that it impacted the life of the church.
When Dad graduated from high school he planned to become an engineer like his father. He enrolled at Ohio State. Somehow, he quickly sensed that this wasn’t what God wanted for him, and he soon transferred to Central Bible Institute, feeling that God had placed a call to ministry on his life.

Dad distinguished himself in school, earning very good grades. Elmer Kirsch, a friend and classmate, remembers him as a “brilliant” student. I once remember talking with another schoolmate from those years who complained that Dad generally set the curve, making it rougher on him than the classes would have been otherwise. During Dad’s last year at CBI he was layout editor of the yearbook, and he was chosen as class speaker.

Bob and I were surprised to learn that Dad sang in the male chorus at CBI, since we never thought of him as being very musical. We also hear that one of his roles was as a “publican”––an official of the junior class who was charged with collecting class dues. I wish Bob and I had known about this earlier. As we were growing up we could have made good use of this, teasing Dad about being a “publican and sinner.”

One of the more colorful activities Dad got involved in during his CBI days was the outstation ministry at Bald Knob. Elmer Kirsch was also on that outstation team and I wish Elmer could share with us about that today. Unfortunately, Elmer is not well enough to participate.

The plan was to plant a church in a school house. The school didn’t have electricity, but there was a gas lamp hanging from the ceiling. There was an active feud taking place between two of the families in the area, so some carried guns to the school. Also, one gentleman wanted to attend services, but he was afraid to come on his own. He would attend if one of the CBI students would pick him up, because he was quite sure no one would shoot him while he was with a “reverend.”

There was opposition to proclamation of the gospel at the Bald Knob School. Someone cut the brake lines on Elmer Kirsch’s car, and it is only divine providence that kept several of the CBI students from dying in a car plunge from one of those old Ozark switch-back roads that were so common in the early fifties. Elmer used the emergency brake to get back to CBI.

Despite the opposition, the work prospered and a church of about 60 people had been established. Then came the event that ended it all. The wife of the Sunday School Superintendent plotted with a neighbor––who also attended the church––to kill her husband. The bloody deed was done with a pitchfork in the Sunday School Superintendent’s barn. There was little law at that time in Taney County, since the sheriff had been run out of town and the deputy had quit lest a similar fate befall him. They finally had to get a sheriff from Greene County to come down and arrest the murderer. The moral stain from these events pretty well killed the CBI out-station efforts at Bald Knob.

Bob: Following Dad’s graduation from CBI, he decided to attend Wheaton College, near Chicago, in order to obtain a four-year college degree and a Master’s degree. It was in those years that he met Doris Dresselhaus, a farm-girl from northern Iowa. Their first date took place in the basement apartment of Bob and Eilene Cooley. Eilene cooked a special spaghetti meal, and I’m sure the food was a hit. I’m also sure my mom was a bigger hit with my dad than the food. Soon they were married.

After three years of pastoring in Michigan, and the addition of two young boys to their home, Dad was asked to return to CBI as a teacher. The year was 1958. Although money was scarce and my dad worked very hard, these were some of the happiest years of their lives.

In 1962 Dad began a two-year leave-of-absence from CBI so he could take doctoral classes at the University of Iowa. His program was in American Church History, and eventually he began work on the history of the Assemblies of God.

When Dad was preparing for his oral exams at the University, I was a young five year old. I was impressed by a story that he told of a Catholic priest waiting for a friend to complete his oral exams. Dad described how the priest in a disappointed manner declared, “Our man just fainted!” That story stuck with me. So late in the afternoon on the day of Dad’s oral exams, as he returned home from this gruelling ordeal, I rushed to the door to meet him. I cried out, “Did you faint, Dad?” I was relieved to learn that he did not. Actually, things had gone quite well.

After returning to Springfield and to CBI in 1964, Dad began serious work on his dissertation. Summers were devoted to travelling the country to interview important figures in Pentecostal history. Since the cost of staying at hotels was prohibitive for our family, Dad purchased a small camper that he hauled all over the U.S. Those summers were incredibly interesting. When Dad was off interviewing, Mom, Glen, and I would play in some scenic campsite. On the days Dad wasn’t busy, we would tour battlefields or historic buildings or national parks.

Glen and I were always very proud of our dad. I remember one event that illustrates this fact. Back in the mid-1960s our family was driving through the Western part of the United States. We came to a narrow bridge just as a large earth-moving machine was slowly plodding across. My father attempted to pass the machine and miscalculated, side-swiping one side of the bridge. It was a scary moment, with the car sliding and tires screeching. When the dust settled, my small, six year-old voice broke through the silence, “Dad, I wasn’t very proud of you back there.” I still remember how Mom and Dad broke into laughter, which did a lot to reassure me that everything was all right. That was perhaps the only moment in his 80 years that I was not proud of Dad.

When Dad’s dissertation had been completed and his degree conferred, we might have expected Dad’s scholarly activity to slow down a bit. Instead, it started all over again. The General Council leadership asked Dad to expand his dissertation into a more comprehensive history of the Assemblies of God. This required more interviewing and more travelling, but Glen and I didn’t mind a bit. We enjoyed all the expeditions and the camping. Finally, in 1971 Anointed to Serve was published.

Glen: In 1970 Dad announced his decision to move across town to teach at Evangel College. One would think this shouldn’t have been a very big deal, but this simple decision by a lowly professor produced a huge amount of controversy. When I was about 14 years old, I remember being confronted near the entrance to CBC by someone who felt the need to tell me that my father was a “traitor.” I only wish I had had the gift of prophecy and could have replied that his job change didn’t matter much because in forty years Evangel and CBC would merge anyway.

Dad spent a decade teaching at Evangel, during most of which he also served as the Chairman of the Department of Biblical Studies and Philosophy. These too were very happy years.

Bob: As a teenager I remember that Glen and I always felt we had a sacred responsibility: it was our job to keep Dad humble. Dad was not a “social or professional climber.” Although he always dressed nicely – Mom saw to that! – he was never overly concerned about his clothes. In this sense he was a child of Azusa Street; he lived simply and did not attempt to stand out. He was not a self-promoter. Generally, his clothes were neat, conservative, and simple. So whenever Mom did attempt to buy something new or in the slightest bit trendy, Glen and I took notice. Dad would come to the breakfast table wearing his new “fancy duds” and Glen and I would break into a chorus: “Bill Menzies goes mod.” These were the days when “The Mod Squad” was a popular TV show.

It was during this time that Dad, along with Vincent Synan and Horace Ward, established an academic society designed to promote research among Pentecostals. Many will regard the founding of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, which today draws hundreds of scholars from around the world to its annual meetings, as one of Dad’s signal achievements. Dad served as the first President of the society and as the first editor of Pneuma, the society’s scholarly journal.

At this time there was a lot of distrust of scholarship and academic pursuits in the Assemblies of God. But somehow Dad was able to disarm these suspicions. He was able to do this largely because of his godly character, humble spirit, and encouraging manner. After meeting Dad, people would often think, “Well, I guess these scholars aren’t all bad.” Dad won people over, and in this way he helped change attitudes within the Pentecostal movement towards higher education and scholarship. In short, he paved the way so that others could follow.

Glen: Following his time at Evangel, Dad taught for three years at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, spent a year as Interim President at FEAST (the Far East Advanced School of Theology), and then two years as the Vice-President for Academic Affairs at California Theological Seminary.

In 1989 Dad became President of Asia Pacific Theological Seminary. For the preceding twenty years Dad had made summer trips teaching in various missionary settings, often in Manila or Seoul. So, in some ways his appointment at APTS was a natural extension of this part-time missionary activity. I think he had proved he had a missionary’s heart.

Moving to the Philippines gave Dad a new jolt of enthusiasm and energy. He seemed to relish the challenges of cross-cultural ministry and leadership. Also, the fact that some of his students faced the very real prospect of imprisonment or martyrdom was a constant reminder of how much was at stake.

Bob: Prayer was a key to Dad’s ministry. As a young boy I often remember on Sunday morning stepping down into our basement and seeing Dad pacing back and forth, calling out to God in prayer. In the Philippines I once remember borrowing Dad’s Bible and, as I thumbed through the pages, I came across a list of prayer requests. On a small piece of paper Dad had listed a number of items that formed the basis of his daily prayer. One item in particular stood out and challenged me. He wrote something like this: “Lord, help me care less about how other people view me and more about how you view me.” That prayer clearly shaped his life.

Glen: In 1996 my mother had a serious heart attack while in the Philippines, and considerable damage was done to her heart. Had she been in the U.S., she would have received an angioplasty and much of this damage might have been avoided. Mom’s heart attack effectively ended my folks’ ability to live overseas. The damage to Mom’s heart was so extensive that she was put on a transplant list, and in 1998 she received a new heart.

After Mom’s transplant, my parents returned to Springfield and lived quiet but joyful lives in retirement until illness took them both. The last eight months of Dad’s life were consumed by tending to Mom and spending time with her, a task he fulfilled joyfully. In many ways the care of old people for each other reveals a far deeper love than the passion of newlyweds.

I will always remember the way my parents loved each other.

Doris Dresselhaus Menzies (December 16, 1932 – May 28, 2011)

Glen: We are here today to celebrate the life of my mother, and my brother Bob and I have the privilege of reading a summary of her life. One reason we are especially grateful today is that we expected to lose Mom 31 years ago when, out of the blue, she had a massive heart attack. Not only did she survive that brush with death, but she survived two more heart attacks, two triple bypasses, and a heart transplant. In addition, she was a cancer survivor and the survivor of a traumatic head injury. Mom was very sweet, but she was also tough, and we regard the past 31 years as a very special gift from above. If you had asked us in 1980 what we though her chances of living another 30 years were, I’m sure we would have said, “Nearly zero.” And even today, although her body is dead, it will live again, and her spirit is with Jesus in heaven.

Bob: Doris Dresselhaus was born at home, on her parent’s farm, four miles outside the city limits of Decorah, Iowa, just a few miles south of the Minnesota border. Her parents were Willard and Beatrice (“Betty”) Dresselhaus. She was born on Dec. 16, 1932, and that night the mercury dipped to 40 degrees below zero. She was the youngest of four siblings; she had two brothers and a sister.

Decorah, where Mom grew up, may have been the most Norwegian town in America. A newspaper was published in Norweigian. It was home to the Vesterheim Museum, which celebrated Norwegian immigration to America. And there were the Norwegian Singers. Even though Mom’s dad was one of the few non-Norwegians in town, they let him sing in the Norwegian Singers!

Mom’s family lived on a dairy farm. She went to a one-room school near their home—complete with an outhouse–for grades 1 through 8, and for a time her older sister Arlys was the schoolteacher.

Mom spoke with great fondness of her early days on the farm. She was very proud of the fact that her father considered her the best tractor-driver in the family! She drove the tractor while her dad and brothers ran the baler and stacked the bales behind her.

Mom writes of these early days: “We were a close-knit family, with many uncles, aunts, and cousins living on farms nearby. On the adjoining farm lived Uncle Elmer and Aunt Gladys. My father and Elmer were brothers; my mother and Gladys were sisters. So, I grew up with three double-cousins nearby. I do not remember an unkind word spoken between our families, even though the families worked together much of the time. I had a happy childhood.”

Mom attributed this remarkable harmony to the love of Christ, which permeated her home. This same love flowed into and shaped our home life as well. When I think back on my own early years, I too cannot remember one unkind word spoken between my mom and dad.

Mom committed her life to Christ in the Decorah Assembly of God church and never looked back. Mom’s lifetime of service to others flowed from her commitment to Christ. Her double cousin, Dick Dresselhaus—whom many of you know–in a recent email stated: “I have had an opportunity to reflect on the wonderful life that Doris lived for God’s glory and praise. I have a distinct memory of the day when Doris walked down the aisle at the little church in Decorah and gave her life to Jesus. She was never the same after that.”

Nine years old. And she was never the same.

Glen: In 1951 my mother graduated from Decorah High School. Her high school years must have been very happy ones, because she always enjoyed returning to Decorah for class reunions. After high school Mom went to Wheaton College, near Chicago, because at that time the Assemblies of God did not have a liberal arts college. She graduated in 1955, and two weeks later she married Bill Menzies, an aspiring Assemblies of God pastor.

Their first date took place in the basement apartment of Bob and Eilene Cooley. Eilene cooked “a special spaghetti meal”–to use Dr. Cooley’s words—but apparently the spaghetti wasn’t what was most special to Dad that night!

For the next three years my dad pastored in Michigan, first at Big Rapids and then at Sturgis. A son was born at each location. My parents lived simply—perhaps too simply. In Sturgis a room Dad had added on to their mobile home caught fire when a heater exhaust got too hot. Fortunately everyone got out safely, but that event encouraged Dad to buy a house and I think Mom was grateful.

Bob: In 1958 our family moved to Springfield so Dad could teach at Central Bible Institute. The week we arrived was one of the hottest weeks in Springfield history with daily highs around 105 to 110 degrees, and of course, this was before the advent of air conditioning. How would you like to move a young family during a week like that?

While Springfield has been a hub around which much of my parents’ lives turned, they did not live in Springfield continuously. The Springfield eras can be arranged rather neatly by the houses in which they lived, the first two of which were located on Williams Street, just to the south of CBC. E. S. Williams, for whom the street was named, lived on the block in those years, although oddly on the Norton Road side of the block, not on the Williams Street side of the block. Glen and I were pretty rambunctious, so I think E.S. Williams was wise to live on the other side of the street. In spite of our mischievous natures, Mom was always incredibly loving and patient.

Glen: The first of the Williams Street houses was 527 Williams, where we stayed for four years and where Russ and Bobbi Spittler were our next-door neighbors. Then we moved to Iowa City for two years while my dad did doctoral study. When we returned to Springfield, we took up residence at 627 Williams Street. There Don and Lyndal Henderson and their son Donny were our next door neighbors and J. Robert Ashcroft and his family lived across the back fence. Fairview Elementary, where we went to school, had three classrooms with two grades each, a clear advancement over Mom’s one-room school house.

My brother and I didn’t always behave, and a vivid—and often repeated—memory is of me, or me and Bobby, hiding in the bushes that grew in front of the homes along Williams Street. Sometimes it was the Hortons’ bushes, sometimes it was the Cunningham’s bushes, sometimes it was our own bushes. When we would do something wrong, we knew we deserved to be punished, but we would go and hide until Mom found us. Somehow there was always a lot more mercy when she found us than we deserved or expected.

Bob and I had a “Leave it to Beaver” sort of childhood, only maybe more so. At the end of Williams Street was an empty lot where we played ball. But we also had a college campus, complete with ponds, a dump, and a cave to play in, as well as the Fairgrounds, and a Zoo. In those days the Dickerson Park Zoo was free, so we would ride our bikes and make plans like, “Meet you at the monkeys at noon.” There were lots of kids in the neighborhood, and looking back on it, we lived in a kid paradise.

A lot of what gave our lives their “Leave it to Beaver”-like quality was our mom. She was always outrageously supportive of us. Our art projects were always beautiful, our musical performances always wonderful, and we were diamonds in the rough being polished. Deep down we knew the truth, but we liked having such a devoted fan anyway. The only person she was even more devoted to was my dad.

Bob: When Dad shifted from teaching at CBC, Central Bible College, to Evangel, we needed to move from our house on Williams Street, and my folks built a house north of the city limits on Hwy. 13. We had a little acreage, so we put up fencing, built a barn, and ran a few cattle. I think the farm-girl in Mom liked the country surroundings.

It was a big decision when my folks decided to leave Springfield. No doubt this decision was made a little easier by the frequency with which we used to sing “I’ll go where you want me to go, Dear Lord” in church. After a few years of ministry in Fresno, California, Mom and Dad returned briefly to Springfield and then moved to the Philippines, where Dad served as President of Asia Pacific Theological Seminary and where Mom was thoroughly involved in hosting visitors and in evangelism.

A recent note from Emmanuel and Agnes Fave, church leaders in Papua New Guinea, captures a bit of mom’s heart. Emmanuel writes: “Agnes and I recall our days in Baguio. We have very fond memories of your wonderful mother. I recall how our daugher, Vaina wondered off on the APTS campus and ended up at Mum and Dad’s house, looking for your daughter, Jessica. Mum ended up giving Vaina a tour of their home. We wondered where our daughter was, until there was a knock on the door of our apartment. It was mum. My wife was quite surprised to see the President’s wife,with our daughter Vaina next to her. We found out that day how she was willing to let a three year old little girl lead her about. That day Agnes and I felt a closeness to the Menzies family. That left a deep impression on us to this day.”

After nine years in the Philippines, Mom and Dad retired in Springfield, moving into their house on South Celebration Avenue. It was shortly after this that Mom was added to the heart transplant list centered in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jimmie Long, who grew up as an AG missionary kid in Calcutta, India, was the head of thorasic transplant surgery in Salt Lake and he supervised her surgery. There are a few interesting things to note about Jimmy: He married Bonnie Buntain, Marc and Huldah Buntain’s daughter; he was Mother Theresa’s heart doctor; and his father, Jim Long, preceded my dad as the President of FEAST, the Far East Advanced School of Theology, which later changed its name to APTS, the Asia Pacific Theological Seminary.

After living in Salt Lake City for about a year-and-a-half, my mom received a new heart, and her health improved greatly. She lived with that new heart for thirteen years, and when she finally passed away last Saturday, it was not from a heart attack but rather from kidney failure.

Somehow, Mom’s heart problems awakened in her a passion for evangelism. I think her brushes with death made the boundary between this life and the next both more immediate and more real. In her 50s she began to witness to others in a way she never had before, and those encounters often bore fruit. One encounter that she remembered fondly was with a Chinese-Filipina woman named Catalina. Catalina was very well-educated and successful, but she didn’t have personal peace. Catalina took a trip to Baguio City, which is generally regarded as the most beautiful location in the Philippines, with the hope of finding the peace she desired. She found peace alright, but it didn’t come from the scenery. My mom introduced her to the Prince of Peace. Sometime later my mom was also able to introduce her niece to the Lord.

During her stay in the Philippines, Mom was active in multiple ministries. She took teams of faculty wives and students to nearby schools and into the city jail. She conducted Bible studies in homes and on campus and traveled throughout East Asia and the Pacific with my dad, bringing sunshine everywhere she went.

Mom’s heart transplant in 1998 was not only a medical milestone for her, but also a spiritual experience. One day shortly after her transplant, my father returned home and found my mother weeping. He was concerned and asked my mother, “What’s wrong?” Mom explained, “These are tears of joy. I have just committed my new heart to the Lord.”

Mom was the most optimistic and positive person I have ever met. She always saw the best in other people. I am convinced that this vision of the world was a reflection of her deep faith. She knew Jesus, and that made all the difference.

Glen: My mother was also an extrovert; she got her energy from being with people. Mom was known for her love of shopping, but what I think she really liked was shopping with people. She was always ready for an adventure as long as other people were involved.

Mom sometimes marched to the beat of a different drummer. Last night June Hurst was telling us how she and my mom were the first women at Central Assembly to get their ears pierced—and it was my mom’s idea. I could believe this, because I remember Mom complaining about clamp-on earrings. Putting little vises on a person’s ears sounded more like a torture technique than good fashion sense. Apparently when June and Mom got their ears pierced it broke open the dam and pierced ears soon became the norm.

June also mentioned that she and Mom used to sneak off to Joplin to watch movies. This was before going to movie theaters was generally acceptable in the Assemblies of God. I never knew about this, but somehow the image of these two prayer warriors sneaking off to watch movies strikes me as pretty funny.

We should probably talk a little bit about Mom’s career as an educator. My mom taught public schools in Michigan, California, Iowa, and for many years here in Springfield. She taught at several different grade levels, but I think fourth-grade was her favorite. She also developed an expertise in teaching reading to those who for some reason didn’t get it on the first go-around. When she earned her master’s degree at Drury College, the focus of her study was remedial reading.

Mom didn’t teach full-time when we boys were young—except for the two years when my dad was doing his doctoral course work at the University of Iowa. Instead she would substitute teach so that she could spend a lot of time with us. When we got older, Mom returned to full-time teaching.

Bob: Mom was a gifted writer. I think having a passion for writing goes hand-in-hand with a passion for reading. She described her experiences in soul-winning in a number of articles. Following her heart transplant, Mom wrote a book about her life, centering on this life-changing medical procedure. This afternoon we have free copies of Young at Heart for anyone who is interested.

My mom was a very special person and she was always herself: educator, shopper, evangelist, missionary, transplant recipient, movie sneak, social butterfly. Many people loved her and we will miss her greatly.

1 Comment

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One response to “Bill and Doris Menzies

  1. Rev. Nancy Tofflemire

    This is a nice summary of 2 lives who lived life well.

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