By Jason Schoonover '09, content specialist
January 02, 2019 | 2:30 p.m.
God willing, Robert and Norma Pint hope to return to Hawaii to celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary in about two years. It will continue a tradition to visit Hawaii every five years starting with their 50th anniversary. "If we have to go on a gurney," Robert says chuckling, "on our 75th, we're still gonna go there."
As the Pints, 88, face health challenges, they're giving thanks for each day together and are leaning on their faith. "God is good all the time," Robert says. "He's in control all the time. He knows what's happening and why, and we have to have the willingness and the patience to accept. That's our goal."
And the Pints are grateful to have a support system that stretches to Bethel University, where friends and a Bethel University Advancement group prays for them during weekly devotions. The Pints' relationship with Bethel spans decades. The Pints were introduced to Bethel through their Baptist church in Iowa and the Baptist General Conference-now Converge North Central-after high school students they knew graduated from Bethel.
Through friendship and work with Senior Development Officer John Neibergall, the Pints' connections to Bethel grew. They eventually opened multiple charitable gift annuities, which pays the Pints back a fixed income and allows them to give to a cause they've grown passionate about: Bethel Seminary.
Along with the regular income, donors receive an income tax deduction for the gift portion of their annuity, and a portion of the fixed payments they receive are tax-free. The Pints also set up charitable gift annuities to pay out to their children when they retire.
The Pints felt drawn to support seminary education and started the Norma R. and Robert F. Pint Seminary Scholarship Fund. "They're really passionate about seeing their resources invested in kingdom purposes and they feel especially that the seminary is key to strong churches," Neibergall says.
Robert says whatever money is left from the annuities will go to support the seminary scholarship fund. "It should self-perpetuate now and just be a continuing fund as long as the Lord lets this be here," Robert says.
Despite decades of support to Bethel, the Pints didn't even step foot on the Bethel University and Bethel Seminary campus in St. Paul until a few years ago, when Neibergall arranged a visit. Robert says he most remembers the seminary archives, where Bethel maintains information and background from denominational churches that have closed. Robert says he and Norma were treated well and enjoyed their time on campus. "The impression we got of Bethel was that it was on course, it's purpose was sound, and we were glad we were involved in it," he says.
The Pints remain steadfast Bethel supporters, despite facing health challenges in recent years. Robert credits relationships with Neibergall and people at Bethel for their continued support. "Our depth of involvement with Bethel is directly related to our relationship we've had with John," he says. "He sells Bethel very well."
For Neibergall, it's been a pleasure to work with the couple and learn their story. "They have an amazing love story and an amazing life story and an amazing faith story," Neibergall says.
Robert and Norma have been married more than 72 years, and Robert says they love each other more today than when they met. "She threw a bucket of water on me when I was a teenager, and I chased her down and married her," Robert says with a laugh.
Robert and Norma married young and worked various jobs in El Paso, Texas, and Sante Fe, New Mexico, before returning to their home state of Iowa. As Norma worked for Northwestern-Bell Telephone Co., Robert worked as a machinist until he decided to go back to school, finish his last two years of high school, and continue on to college.
He followed his love of science and taught high school chemistry, physics, and biology for five years before switching to the middle school level. Norma continued at Northwestern-Bell for 30 years to support the family and Robert as he continued his schooling, while also working. He eventually earned a Ph.D. Though he intended to teach at a university, he remained at the middle school level, became an administrator, and then spent 14 years as a principal in Bettendorf, Iowa. "I saw that's where the greater need was," he says.
Health concerns have taken their toll in recent years. Norma and Robert were each diagnosed with cancer, and Norma has even lived 12 years past one prognosis. She also suffers from Parkinson's disease and diabetes and was recently hospitalized with blood pressure complications, but she returned home, and the couple is grateful for prayers from Bethel. "We're OK," Robert says. "We're sitting here in lift chair recliners. Mine even has a heating element and a vibrator in it. How do you beat that?"
Robert says they're now highly dependent on God, and they're putting their faith in him. Their goal is still to celebrate 75 years of marriage in Hawaii. "The Lord will determine if we even get 73, we know that, but our goal is 75," he says.
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