April 2022 News Perspective Online

Alumni/ae Updates: April 2022

Endowed Professorship Named for Perkins Alum

Meredith (right) with Pacific alum Pete Carroll

More than 50 University of the Pacific alumni have come together to honor a Perkins alumnus, Larry Meredith (M.Th., 1953), by establishing the Lawrence Meredith Endowed Professorship in the Humanities. This marks the first time in university history that so many alumni have contributed to endow a professorship.

During his 33-year tenure at Pacific, Meredith left a lasting impression on thousands while serving as dean of the chapel and a professor of the humanities and religious studies. Former students described him as “a modern-day renaissance man,” “an angel” and “a legend.” The fund will provide support for research and scholarly activities for a faculty member at University of the Pacific who has distinguished contributions in teaching, scholarship and service in the fields of the humanities.

Lead donors for the endowed professorship were Pacific alumnus Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, and his wife, Glena Goranson, who formed a lifelong friendship with Larry Meredith and his wife, Pat, after taking Meredith’s Religion of the Body class.  “We love him so much, and we love all that he’s ever stood for and ever meant to people so we would like to extend that opportunity to others,” said Carroll.  Read the announcement here.

Janet Odom Video Interviews

Rev. Janet Bell Odom (M.Div. ’95, D.Min. ’05) was recently featured in two segments in a video series for Black History Month, entitled “This is Our Story,” produced by the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. In Persevering in a Cross-Cultural Calling, with Rev. Dr. Ron Henderson and Rev. Andy Lewis, she shared her experience serving in cross-racial and cross-cultural appointments in the North Texas Conference. In Meeting without Ego, she talked about her experience serving as a disaster response coordinator in the North Texas Conference and how coming to the table without ego was key to working well with a diverse team. A retired elder in The United Methodist Church, Odom has pastored numerous congregations across the conference and led disaster response for the North Texas Conference.

40 Days of Prayers for Peace

Dr. Rhonda Green Harmon (D.Min. ‘17) has just published a book, 40 Days of Prayer for Peace Journal. (Maple & Birch Publishing)  According to the author’s description, “The number 40 is mentioned at least 146 times in various translations in the Bible. Through research, one will find the number 40 symbolizes life-changing transformation. This prayer peace journal is intended to sow seeds of the Peace of God into your life. I pray this journal will start or restart the journey of peace for you, your family, and your friends. Start one day at a time declaring and decreeing Peace in the Name of Jesus.” The book is available on Amazon.

Obit: The Rev. Vernon Friday

Rev. Vernon Friday (M.Th. ‘71) died on March 4 in Huntsville, Texas. Friday graduated from University of Texas ROTC in January 1964 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, serving in the Corps of Engineers. After serving in Vietnam, he attended Perkins and was ordained as a United Methodist minister in June 1972. Following ordination, he returned to active duty in the U.S. Army, serving as a Chaplain until transitioning into the Army Reserves in 1978. He returned to engineering in 1980 as an online leak sealing engineer while continuing to pastor various churches part-time and formally retired from ministry in 1985 and from the Reserves as a Lt. Colonel in 1988. He obtained his Texas Professional Engineering license in 1989 and started his own engineering business serving the industrial leak sealing industry. He and his wife, Lois, moved to Huntsville, Texas, in 1990 and have been faithful members of First UMC of Huntsville. He finally retired from full-time engineering in July 2020 at the age of 81. Services were held March 13 at First UMC Huntsville. Read the full obituary here.

Obit: Kaneaster Hodges Jr.

Kaneaster Hodges Jr. (M.Th. ‘63) died March 23 in Little Rock, Ark., at the age of 83. In 1960, he graduated from Princeton University and married his high school sweetheart, Ruth Lindley Williams. They couple moved to Dallas, where Kaneaster entered Perkins School of Theology, graduating magna cum laude in 1963. During his three years in seminary, he was committed to civil rights and participated in the Methodist Student Movement, serving as national president and traveling the country for this cause. After graduation, he pastored two churches in Massachusetts, the Acushnet Wesley Methodist Church and the Long Plain UMC. At the same time, he commuted to Boston University and earned a second Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling. In 1964, Hodges attended the University of Arkansas School of Law. He joined his father’s law firm and became increasingly involved in politics. Following the death of Sen. John McClellan in 1977, Hodges was appointed to fulfill the remaining portion of Senator McClellan’s term.  Kaneaster continued his history of public service as a trustee of Arkansas College, now Lyon College, as trustee and past chairman at the University of Arkansas, trustee of Arkansas State University-Newport Campus and President of the Arkansas State University-Newport Charitable Foundation, Inc. He received numerous awards for his service. Funeral services were March 29 at First Baptist Church in Newport with Rev. Dr. Greg Dills and Judge Bill Wilson officiating. Interment was in Walnut Grove Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the University of Arkansas Libraries, 1 University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701; Gideons International, P.O. Box 72, Newport, AR 72112; Hope Place Newport, 2000 McLain Street, Bldg 1, Suite B, Newport, AR 72112; or the First Baptist Church of Newport, 217 Main St, Newport, AR 72112. Read Hodges’ full obituary here.

Obit: Jerry Weaver

Chaplain Jerry Alden Grant Weaver (M.Th. ‘66) died on Feb. 25 at the age of 82. He had lived in Austin since retiring from the U.S. Army in 1994. In addition to his Perkins degree, he received a Master’s degree in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling from Chapman College in Orange County, California. His first full-time pastorate was at Nolanville, Texas. During that time, he founded the Harker Heights UMC. After close association with chaplains at Fort Hood, Texas, he made the decision to become a U.S. Army chaplain in 1967. In 1969, he served in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star. Subsequent assignments included Fort Knox, Kentucky; Germany; Staten Island, New York; Fort Ord, California; Fort Hood, Texas; Schofield Barracks, Hawaii and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. After retirement, Weaver served as the associate pastor of Manchaca UMC for seven years. After “retiring” a second time, he then served as pastor of the Lytton Springs UMC for eight years before retiring for the third, and final, time in 2009. He is survived by his wife, Celia Holeyfield Weaver.  A Celebration of Life was held March 29 at Manchaca UMC, followed by his burial at the Fort Sam Houston Military Cemetery in San Antonio. Read the full obituary here.

Obituary: The Rev. Gilbert Zyzniewski

Rev. Gilbert R. Zyzniewski (M.Div. ‘64) died on Jan. 6 at the age of 83. While in high school, he boxed in the Golden Gloves tournament and competed in speed skating. Ordained as a Methodist minister in Dallas in 1964, Zyzniewski was committed to spreading God’s word every day of his life. His ordained ministry started with the North Texas Conference at Highland Park UMC. He moved to the Mountain Sky Conference in 1968 and served numerous Colorado UMC churches from 1968 until his retirement in 2003. Colorado allowed him to continue his lifetime love of hunting, fishing and hiking. Zyzniewski served Lakewood UMC in Lakewood, Colo.; First UMC Colorado Springs, Colo.; First UMC of Boulder, Colo.; Park Hill UMC in Denver; and Jefferson Avenue UMC in Wheat Ridge, Colo. He retired from employed ministry in 2003 but continued to serve the community, filling in for UMC ministers, performing weddings, funerals, counseling and giving a kind word to all who would listen. He is survived by his wife, Jeane Zyzniewski, whom he met at SMU and married at Highland Park UMC in 1964. A Celebration of Life was held virtually on March 5. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Gilbert Zyzniewski Memorial Scholarship Endowment. For details visit