Below is the “Our Story” we wrote at the occasion of our 30th wedding anniversary celebration, August 29, 2009.
David was born the first child of a career Army enlisted man, J.D. and his wife Anna. Most of his years as a child and youth were in Kansas except for three years in Hawaii and a year in Florida. He attended the University of Kansas, graduating in civil engineering during December 1977.
Cathy was born the first child of a Marine pilot who later turned to teaching English, Eugene Sullivan, and his wife Nellie. Most of her growing up years were in Minneapolis, Minnesota and its suburb, Plymouth. She attended St. Cloud (Minnesota) State University where she graduated with a degree in biology and a teaching certificate in 1978.
Our meeting, marriage, and first year together (1976-1980)
In the summer of 1976, this Kansas boy and Minnesota girl joined fifty other students and staff of Campus Crusade For Christ in Panama City Beach, Florida. During the beach project we enjoyed getting to know each other. We discovered many things in common such as a desire to serve Jesus Christ, a desire to serve overseas in ministry by using our vocational skills, the commonality in view of family life and intentional living.
While the summer ended with no definitive plans for an enduring relationship, our friendship continued through lots of letter writing, occasional phone calls and a few times seeing each other at large Crusade student conferences. This growing friendship eventually led David to take a job in Hopkins, Minnesota (a Minneapolis suburb) after his college graduation. Eight months later, during October 1978, David, always a deliberate decision-maker, surprised no one in asking Cathy to marry him.
We married June 16, 1979 and spent our first year of marriage in Hopkins as David continued to work for an engineering consultant and Cathy as a substitute teacher.
During the summer of 1980, we joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), raised financial support, and attended staff training in Fort Collins and three months of intensive training for international service in Los Angeles. Ten days after completing the second training, we headed to Bophuthatswana, South Africa for 3 years.
Africa days (1981-1984)
We joined a particular ministry of CCC that combined serving others via our vocational skills and ministry. David was regional engineer for the Bophuthatwana Department of Water Works overseeing the development and maintenance of the region’s water supplies serving its 300,000 people. Cathy taught biology at a high school that was seeking to serve as a model for the new “nation”. Both our jobs were very challenging and rewarding. David’s primary ministry focus was in a local church, where he taught Sunday school, preached from time to time, led Bible studies and spent time with a few men one-on-one. Cathy’s ministry was focused on students at her school and with teachers in a poor rural village about 15 minutes from our home.
During September 1983, Betsy was born, starting Cathy’s career as mother.
Return to the U.S. / a growing family (1984-1989)
During March 1984, we returned to the United States. Based on a look at our options, we decided to move to Lawrence, Kansas where we could both help with the start of a new church being planted by my close friend, Chuck Thomas, and where I could pursue a master degree in water resource engineering at KU. The U.S. was just ending a recession and engineering jobs were scarce. I eventually found a job with the state of Kansas at the Division of Water Resources (DWR). I had no idea of how enduring that employment would be.
Cathy continued to happily serve in her roles of wife and mother. In July 1985, we were blessed with our second child, Amy, and in 1989, a third girl, Megan.
Since moving to Lawrence, we have both been very active with Community Bible Church. Between the two of us, we have served in almost every role imaginable in the church. David has been an elder at the church since 1987. Cathy currently oversees the children’s Sunday school program and helps lead the women’s ministries.
School days (homeschooling years, 1989-2007)
A couple years before Betsy was ready to start school, Cathy was exposed to the option of homeschooling on a radio show. At that time the option of homeschooling was still new and seen as radical. Eventually, we did some serious research on the various options for our children’s education and we decided to try homeschooling.
Each of our children was educated at home through their entire K-12 years and we have been actively involved in supporting others who have made the same decision. We began serving as the coordinators of Lawrence’s homeschool support group our second year of homeschooling (when David went along with Cathy to an organizational meeting, and asked a few too many questions). David has also served in state leadership since 1986, now in an advisory capacity.
When our older girls were ready to take high school biology, Cathy began teaching science to them and other Lawrence area homescholers.
Caring for Cathy’s Dad
After Cathy’s mother died, her Dad decided he wanted to sell his house in Minnesota and buy a home with us. The search for the right situation took a couple of years and culminating in buying a home in rural Douglas County in September 2001.
However, it was not until the summer of 2004, due to his declining health, that he moved in with us. It was our privilege to have Cathy’s Dad live with us for the last 14 months of his life.
Kids leaving the nest, David’s job change
All three girls attended college while living at home, each at different schools. In 2007, Betsy graduated with a degree in elementary education from Mid-America Nazarene (Olathe). Betsy served two years as a missionary/teacher in the Philippines and is now teaching at Olathe Christian School. Also in 2007, Amy graduated with a degree in music education from KU. Amy teaches elementary strings in Topeka public schools. Megan is currently starting her junior year in music at Washburn in Topeka.
In June 2007, my boss, Kansas Chief Engineer of almost 25 years decided to retire. While I never aspired to the job, I was asked to be Acting Chief Engineer while a national search was conducted. As I did the job I was encouraged by many to apply for the job and found I enjoyed its many challenges. In November of 2007, I became only the fifth Chief Engineer since the creation of the DWR in 1927.
Overall, it has been a great and rewarding 30 years together. We thank God that, we can sing:
“Our love’s secure, so rest assured
Come what may ’til that day
We’ll walk forever, holding hands
By God’s grace ’til that day
We’ll walk forever, holding hands
December 2013 short update:
Cathy continues teaching science to homeschool students. David continues as chief engineer at DWR.
The nest is empty. All three girls married between July 2010 and June 2011. Our first grandchild was born during June 2012.