Highlights (as of 2015)

This morning we (I) was joking about the fact that we lived close to one another briefly in 1957, when I was a participant in a seminar in Detroit, Michigan, for three months, while Barbara had just graduated from high school in Birmingham, Michigan. We did not meet until Friday, October 13, 1961, at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. We became engaged in February and married on June 16, 1962. We wanted to have the ceremony at my church in Danville, Illinois, but mother-in-law objected, so we were married by Dr. John Irwin at the chapel at the seminary.

(Sidebar: Fast forward to 1993 or so and I invited the grandfather of one of my Sitka members to preside at his granddaughters wedding. I did the counseling, but he did the service. It was different than the United Methodist liturgy, so I asked grandfather if he had written it. No, he had borrowed it from another pastor. I asked for a copy. Lo, and behold, it was written by Dr. John Irwin. Not remembering anything about my own wedding, I don’t know if Dr. Irwin had used those same words at our service or not. It will remain a mystery.)

(Article in Central Illinois Historical Messenger, Dated 1992)

“Along with her husband, Barbara Dadd Shaffer has been active in public affairs, both at the local level of the communities in which they were serving, and in the state of Alaska. She served on the Alaska Commission Secondary Education, chairing the commission for one year and presiding one of the five years she was a member of the Alaska Lung Association. She has also served the United Methodist Church at the Conference, Jurisdictional, and General Church levels. Over the years they have adapted to many changes in lifestyle, including living in a log cabin.”

(end of article)

Barbara was ordained as a Deacon in the Methodist Church in 1962. She was the first woman to be ordained in The Central Illinois Conference. Because of our decision to serve in Alaska, she didn’t finish seminary and become an Elder, but she does have one year of seminary training.

One special note about her ordination. The Central Illinois Conference had had persons who spoke out against ordaining women at the General Conference where it was approved in 1956. We wondered how they would treat her. They were silent in the interview. We will never know how they voted, but the majority clearly affirmed her ordination.

Barbara and I have been blessed with many unique experiences, many of them directly related to our decision to serve the United Methodist Church in Alaska. Barbara faithfully followed me around from appointment to appointment, which meant she could not complete some of her employment opportunities. I tried to make up for this by giving her 51% of the vote on where we would live in retirement. She chose Stanwood.

One of my disappointments in Alaska was that most churches built parsonages in the most inexpensive way and that meant that there was no focus on providing a view. Views cost more money. Now, in retirement, we have a view. An unobstructed view of the Olympic mountains. A neighbor at Sitka allowed me to cut some branches out of a tree, so we had a peek-a-boo views of Mt. Edgecumbe (think Mount Fuji). That was nice, but it made me want more. I attempted to find a buyer for the parsonage in Stanwood, but I failed, so we spent eight years in the flood plain of Stanwood with no view.

Here are some of Barbara’s experiences in life:

1957-1961 Albion College in Michigan, B.A. in Mathematics
1961-1962 Garrett Theological Seminary
1962 Ordained Deacon in the Central Illinois Conference
1962 Married John J Shaffer
1962 Commissioned as Home Missionary
1962-1995 Lived in Alaska: Kenai, Chugiak, Juneau, Nome, Anchorage, Sitka
1962-1965 Substitute Teacher, City of Kenai
1969-1980 Member of Alaska Council on Finance and Administration, President 1976-1980
1970-1973 Employed by the Department of Labor, State of Alaska
1973-1974 Employed by the Office of the Aging, Deputy Director, State of Alaska
1974 Director of the Nome Community Center
1974-1977 Special Assistant to the Governor of the State of Alaska Jay Hammond.
Liaison for 38 villages in Northwest Alaska.
1975 Master’s in Public Administration from University of Alaska
1977-1980 Member of Nome Common Council (City Council)
1977-2008 Trustee of Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage
1980 & 1984 Delegate to Western Jurisdictional Conference
1980-1984 Member of Board of Directors of General Board of Global Ministries
1984 Delegate to the United Methodist General Conference
1985-1989 Member of Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, Chair 1985-1986
1988-1996 Member of General Council on Finance and Administration of the UMC
1996-2004 Member of PNW Council on Finance and Administration, President 2000-2004
1990-1995 Administrator of Sitka Historical Society and Isabel Miller Museum
2004, 2008 & 2012 Delegate to Western Jurisdictional Conference
2004-2008 President of the Western Jurisdiction Core Planning Unit for the United Methodist
Women and member of Board of Directors of the Women’s Division.
2006-Present Bishop’s Task Force on Hope for the Children of Africa, co-chair and chair 2008-present
2012 Chair of Program and Arrangements, Western Jurisdictional Conference in San Diego.
2008 Received the Bishop’s Award in the Pacific Northwest Conference.

1971 With John on Bishop Palmer Tour of Africa and Holy Land (7 weeks) to 9 countries: Liberia,
South Africa, Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Israel, Cyprus, Lebanon
1974 Church Women United Causeway Trip to Southeast Asia: Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Philippines
1979 People’s Republic of China with Trustees of Alaska Pacific University
1981 Jamaica
1986 With John to World Methodist Conference in Kenya
1990 Europe to see Oberammergau Passion Play
2001 With John to World Methodist Conference in England
2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 (with John) to DRC Congo
2009 With John May 3-16 to Turkey with Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan
2009 With John (June) 50th Anniversary for Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, Alaska
2009 With John Sept. 25-Oct. 12 through Panama Canal (Mexico, Costa Rica, Columbia)
2010 With John Feb 17-25 to Copper Canyon in Mexico via Arizona
2010 With John February 27 to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Stanwood to Vancouver
by train. Due to security we sat on the train for two hours at our destination.
2010 With John April 22-21 to Costa Rica
2010 With John May 23-30 Cruise of SE Alaska with Sapphire Princess: Misty Fjords & Tracy Arm
2011 With John March Machu Picchu to the Galapagos plus the Upper Amazon
2011 With John to Kauai in May
2011 With John to Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland in August
2011 With John to National Parks and Grand Canyon in Sept-Oct
2012 Scotland in August
2012 With John to Hana, Maui for John’s 75th Birthday in November
2013 With John to July International Lion’s Convention in Hamburg, Germany with Icelandic Air
2013 Ireland in August
2014 With John to People’s Republic of China in May
2014 With John to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia in October. We didn’t get to Botswana because of their concern about Ebola because we had been to the Congo.
2014 With John to Juneau for 40th Anniversary of Northern Light United Church
2015 With John to Alaska in April to United Methodist Church of Sitka’s 50th Anniversary
2015 With John to Alaska June 28 SE Cruise, Glacier Bay and Denali Park
Stay tuned: on the horizon Iceland, Greenland, Vietnam, Cambodia, Russia and maybe Cuba



  1. We no longer live in Stanwood. We are now living at Wesley Homes, Lea Hill Campus, in Auburn, Washington. We continue in the life style of traveling. Since writing the above, we made it to Vietnam and Cambodia and are scheduled to visit Fiji, Australia and New Zealand in 2017. We are participating in programs at both Auburn First and Federal Way UMC, as well as attending chapel at Lea Hill. Making up for lost time? Barbara is also deeply involved in raising money for two orphanages in the Congo. Checks are accepted.

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