By Cherie Suonvieri '15, content specialist
April 04, 2019 | 9:45 a.m.
For Linda '72 and Ron Dischinger '72, Bethel runs in the family. Ron's parents were alumni, as are 11 of his siblings. Linda and Ron's three children attended Bethel, too. The Dischingers' belief in Bethel spans generations-which is why it seemed only natural to include Bethel in their will.
Linda and Ron traveled separate paths while they were students. Linda majored in music education and church music, while Ron studied political science. Linda was deeply immersed in the music department and Ron was in band and male chorus, so they crossed paths occasionally. Ron says Linda caught his eye, but Linda says she wouldn't have anything to do with him at the time.
But two years after graduation, their paths started to merge. Ron found himself at the church where Linda was the organist, and they reconnected. "She still wouldn't date me, so I signed up for piano lessons with her," Ron laughs. They soon found that they'd both changed and grown since graduation-enough to date, and enough to eventually build a life together.
Their careers took them to the east coast, where they spent most of their years since graduation, but Bethel has always remained a part of their lives. Both Linda and Ron have served terms on Bethel's National Alumni Board. Over the years, they've also stayed in touch with Bethel friends, who've made up the core of their community since their time as students.
Ron says it's the Christian faith they share that keeps those friendships strong over time and distance. "I did my MBA at the University of Hartford," he explains. "I spent two years with a group of people going through the entire program together, but as soon as it was over, it was over."
For Linda, what holds their community together is more challenging to describe. "I can't explain it, except that it was a gift to me," she says. "That's one of the reasons I wanted my kids to come here. There's so much more to college than just academics. Who you grow to be as a person is, I'd say, almost more important than what you end up doing for a career."
Linda and Ron are loyal members of the Coffee Club and have been faithful contributors to scholarships and capital campaigns as they've been able. They've also decided to include a bequest to Bethel in their will.
Ron was inspired to donate to Bethel through a bequest while he served as a social worker at Elim Park Baptist Home in Cheshire, Connecticut. He witnessed clients giving portions of their estates to a number of causes, so when he and Linda wrote their first will in the early 1980s, they decided to do the same.
Since then, they've changed their will three times. Some organizations have been added and others removed, but Bethel has always stayed. "Your money is going to go somewhere. No one is going to carry a little U-Haul behind them when they go," Ron says. "And giving to Bethel is absolutely worthwhile. It's lived up to its mission, design, and purpose-and we want to see that continue."
In the past year, Linda and Ron have retired and moved back to the Twin Cities. In their spare time, they've enjoyed soaking up the culture the metro area has to offer, staying active, spending time with their grandchildren, and immersing themselves in good books. And, as they have in years past, they're staying connected to their alma mater.
"We've been very pleased with the growth of Bethel," Ron says. "We've known faculty, staff, and students throughout the years at Bethel and have appreciated that fact that they've been so committed to the mission of Christian higher education."
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