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Jesus said, “I will build My Church…” There is a single organization that teaches the entire truth of the Bible, and is called to live by “every word of God.” Do you know how to find it? Christ said it would:

  • Teach “all things” He commanded
  • Have called out members set apart by truth
  • Be a “little flock”

The Authorized Biography of David C. Pack

Volume One

David C. Pack has held a variety of leadership roles throughout his dynamic, event-filled life: author of more than 20 books, scores of booklets and a vast array of articles—Pastor General of The Restored Church of God—voice of The World to Come program—founder of Ambassador Center—and publisher/editor-in-chief of three magazines. The Authorized Biography of David C. Pack tells the life story of a man who was carefully prepared by God for a unique position.

Table of Contents

I have often thought that my entire life has been one most privileged. Of course, living in a modern Western nation is enough in itself to make this true. Just the list of extraordinary physical blessings enjoyed is nearly without end. I had wonderful parents, an unusually productive first marriage of over 36 years, with God blessing us with three children—and many grandchildren. There has now been the very happy, and quite unexpected, blessing of a second wife, also completely committed to God’s Way. I have traveled the world, and met many remarkable people along the way.

Obviously, the greatest blessing in my life has been God’s calling into His Church, Work and truth now well over 40 years ago. Nothing could compare to the gift of learning and understanding the marvelous doctrines of God. My calling almost immediately involved a decision that altered the course of my life more than any other: the opportunity to attend Ambassador College. This in turn led to being placed into the ministry of Jesus Christ now approaching 40 years ago. Such a life-altering additional calling meant a host of diverse assignments, always in interesting cities and regions of the country, and working with and assisting many thousands of people, including leaders, in a ministerial setting.

These became the foundation for many of the events experienced and lessons learned related throughout these volumes.

Since an unusually wide range of experiences has enriched my life, a certain problem was created for the writers: which stories and encounters should be included in the biography. Of course, there were certain ones that had to be incorporated because of their transcending influence or impact on my life. The biography would fail in purpose if it did not contain them, coupled with an explanation of why they were important. This alone meant a lot of material needed to be included.

There was also a desire to relate stories that are of lesser importance, but that have had a role in shaping me nonetheless. It is not the biography’s purpose to make every one of these seem overly important or to present them as in every case having brought dramatic transformations in my thinking. Of course, some did. Both I and the many writers who participated struggled with how many, and which, stories to include, as well as when to cut off stories with the overall length of the biography in mind!

It was not the goal to bring in every story in my life, or every experience I have had. But, we believe that every one chosen adds to the overall picture of what shaped me, and it is my hope that the reader benefits and is left motivated, better informed and even inspired for having read them.

When the overall picture is seen, it becomes evident that God had His hand on me as a young man, and, as with Herbert W. Armstrong, there were times His guidance was very clear in my life. This was most obvious when looking back, rather than around from the middle of an ongoing experience or trial. Taken together, the stories and accounts chosen either carried significant lessons or in some fashion helped define me.

As a young boy, my mother characterized me as “a child with great capacity for enjoyment.” This personality trait probably most summarizes my approach to everything and still describes me today. I have always seen life in brilliant colors. This had an automatic effect on how wonderfully blessed I have felt myself to be during the over six decades of my life. To this day, those closest to me marvel at the enthusiasm with which I seem to embrace almost everything before me.

This introduces and explains the many other accounts that are best described as human-interest stories. These demonstrate a lifelong desire to explore and take on all kinds of new adventures—to experience as broadly as humanly possible at all phases of my life.

It is recognized that other people have lived in parallel some of the “recent history of the Church” events described throughout these volumes. Of course, they will have seen these moments from their own perspective and come to their own conclusions. This biography details events from my perspective, things that were experienced (or endured) from my vantage point—and of course from that of the contributing writers. It is not this book’s purpose to create a comprehensive historical record or to simply recap events chronologically in the Worldwide Church of God and various breakaway groups in order to establish a clinical, historical record of everything that should be known about the apostasy. Such a book would require multiple volumes and more closely resemble an encyclopedia! (Ten books totaling over 2,100 pages have been written about all crucial aspects of that prophesied time.)

Over the years, much, in fact most, of what has been written and spoken about me is either completely false or badly distorted. Through the Internet, these stories have proliferated and multiplied. That much of this information has been negative comes as no surprise. It is human nature to pass along gossip, true or false. But it is human nature to suppose that most of the stories are true, if only because this is easy. I had to eventually accept that this may be partly because there is no factual alternative to which to turn. I also had to recognize that some in the splinters of the Worldwide Church of God could miss out on participation in the true Work and Church of God if we did not do this.

We had a duty.

Therefore, one of the primary goals of these volumes has been to cut through all of the confusion and falsehoods, and offer the true story of my life, and from time to time in my own words. At a minimum, I hope what you read accomplishes this much. At times, in some areas often, the Biography contains many of my impressions, recollections and descriptions, set apart in my voice. At least in this sense, part of the story is autobiographical.

To some who might think this biography will portray events of my life as a collection of negative experiences due entirely or largely to injustice, this will be seen not to be the case. Although it is natural that anyone looking back on the events of their life would consider times of adversity, trial and persecution to be the periods that most shaped them, these experiences also provided the best opportunities to learn and grow. I am no exception. So it is these events, more than the “good times,” that have brought me to where I am today. The hope is that the biography makes this clear.

The writers tried as hard as humanly possible to make these experiences helpful and uplifting where they could. However, hopefully, the tone will be understood to reflect what the apostasy showed the spiritual condition of the Church to have been for a long time prior.

My entire life has been a series of tests of faith. There have been numerous health trials, and more than the average person. There have been almost nonstop slander and persecution, coupled with demotion and unexpected transfers. Then there has been the challenge of having been drafted into the military after God had called me, the trials and blessings of paying third tithe, in addition to tests in the workplace for one year associated with taking time off to observe God’s Holy Days. And there are the many—and often severe—financial trials that God always saw me through. I also worked directly under several ministers who did not have God’s Holy Spirit, and almost seemed to set out to prove it—their later decisions before or during the apostasy plainly evidenced this. There was of course also the long, protracted illness in 2006 and 2007, culminating in death, of my first wife.

This book is not an autobiography, but rather an authorized biography. Many people participated. A team of writers and researchers on staff worked a great many long hours. They sought to use descriptive language to make the book as interesting as possible. But, above all, these volumes had to be truthful. The writers were charged with bringing complete honesty. Of course, there was always the challenge of battling with the frailty of human memory—in some cases, mine!—but contributing writers and I strove as much as humanly possible to be completely accurate. I was regularly consulted for the facts and for how to maintain the overall purpose and vision of the project.

Some will say the stories and relationships described are embellished and/or exaggerated. They are not. They come from real events. They happened! (In fact, many punches had to be pulled just to keep certain names out.) The accounts of those I met and associated with involved real people inside and outside the Church.

There is no intent to bash people or include names. It does not matter if some wish to attack what is written here—it is not the biography’s purpose to harm anyone, alive or deceased. This carries no value. While very special care was taken to avoid this, it was not possible to retain the true story and picture of certain matters if all names were to be dropped from all accounts. It is simply impossible to tell the story of a minister who was for decades in the WCG and journeyed through an apostasy without including certain names, dates, places, specific events and specific circumstances that took place. This was not always easy to balance. Because of this, some names have been left out, and others were left in. Sometimes titles of men are used. Other times their role is used in order to make the text plain—the meaning of the story clear—while at the same time writing it in a way that excludes names. Some of the ministers involved are in the splinters today and are causing terrible damage with their teachings, and sometimes conduct. It can be in some instances valuable to know what went on with them.

Because of their high profile in both the Church and my life, the names of Herbert W. Armstrong’s successor and of the leader of the organization I entered after the Worldwide Church of God cannot be avoided. There are a few other names.

In any case, value judgments had to be made each time. The intent was to outline what shaped me, not others—to cover the areas where I, not others, made mistakes and had to change—to show lessons that I, not others, had to learn. Sometimes this did mean, however, a description of an error must be graphic.

Finally, the biography has been written so that it speaks to as many as six separate audiences. First would be members of The Restored Church of God. Second are those who were once in the Worldwide Church of God. These may be in or out of the splinters today, but are trying to find where God’s Church, Work, Truth and Government continue.

The third group consists of those God is calling now who may have the same interest in my background as I and so many others did in Mr. Armstrong’s preparation and training. Fourth would be the public press. These should at least have an opportunity to read an alternative to what God’s enemies state about His Church and its leaders.

Fifth would be young people in the Church who might benefit in the same way that Mr. Armstrong felt his early life experiences benefited young people of decades ago. Many will recall he excerpted into a small booklet his “Early Years” solely for this purpose.

Sixth are all true ministers of God today. The experiences recorded here become a guide of helpful counseling tools, organizational tips, methods used and painful lessons learned involving mistakes to be avoided that hopefully can be useful for the remainder of these last days. We live in a complicated age, and any additional assistance and voice of experience that can be offered can only help.

Every year or two another chapter could be added to Volume Two to reflect additional important events. Mr. Armstrong stopped writing his autobiography in 1963, with it having only covered up to the year 1959 when he was still just 67 years old. This was largely because he eventually did not have enough regularly scheduled time to continue the narrative to completion. This meant the Worldwide Church of God membership missed his telling of the last almost 27 years of his life—or about one-half of his entire ministry and conversion—surely what was the most important, productive and eventful period of his work. These years had to be described after Mr. Armstrong’s death solely through the compiling by another writer from among his hundreds of Brethren/Co-worker letters written during that period.

My story is different, since it is one that others are putting to paper. If it is deemed that there is worthy material, it is possible to extend Volume Two once or twice.

I believe that what the reader will encounter captures the extraordinary life I have lived, and it offers an opportunity for others to learn from my experiences. I certainly did.

David C. Pack

Preface – Why This Biography?

Year after year, millions of Internet users throughout the world visit this website ( and are struck by the sheer volume and quality of the written and audio material available. Although the information on the websites answers the question, “What is The Restored Church of God,” many inquiries also arrive asking, “Who is David C. Pack, its Pastor General?”

Before Mr. Pack’s ministry began, the twentieth century saw a remarkable leader, visionary, and servant of God, Herbert W. Armstrong. As the Pastor General of The Worldwide Church of God, he took Christ’s gospel—the message of the coming kingdom of God—to millions around the world through The Plain Truth magazine and The World Tomorrow radio and television broadcast. Tens of millions recognized Mr. Armstrong’s name, and this included more than one-third of the world’s heads of state with whom he had a personal audience, in some cases many times. At its zenith, The Worldwide Church of God maintained regional offices on six continents, administered three colleges, involved a dozen international corporations and hosted an annual international conference, with an attendance of over 150,000.

To answer questions about the background of the man behind this well-known ministry, and the Radio Church of God, Mr. Armstrong wrote an extensive autobiography that carefully chronicled his life. It included stories from his childhood and detailed his family and career before God called him. Also included were a behind-the-scenes look at his ministry and his life as leader of the end-time Work that God was doing through him.

After Mr. Armstrong’s death in 1986, everything he had worked for and been used by God to build, spanning most of a lifetime, was systematically—and rapidly—dismantled and destroyed. This included throwing out every one of God’s doctrines and standards, closing what became decadent, degenerate Ambassador Colleges, most of the corporations and regional offices, selling off properties, and trying to completely erase an immense international Work and all that the Church had once stood for.

David C. Pack was personally trained by Mr. Armstrong during the last 15 years of his life. (This was in addition to four years of Ambassador College.) In part because of this unusual training, Mr. Pack was in a position that God could use him to restore everything that had been lost. Today his ministry is a continuation of the same Work.

Currently, Mr. Pack’s extraordinary worldwide ministry includes his role as the voice of The World to Come™ broadcast and of hundreds of sermons given in The Restored Church of God, which are posted online. This biography reveals the life of the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of The Real Truth™, The Pillar and Ambassador Youth magazines, and the author of many books, booklets and articles also published free of charge on The Restored Church of God’s websites.

The idea of a biography of Mr. Pack’s life first arose in late 2003 or early 2004. It took Mr. Pack a long time—about two and a half years—to come to grips with the fact that the book needed to be written.

Similarly, it took a long time for Mr. Armstrong to permit his picture to be taken and his photograph to be released to the public. He thought it created a wrong focus, one toward himself rather than God’s truth and Church. Finally, a man wrote him and said something to the effect of “Mr. Armstrong, we have a right to know what you look like—we have a right to see a picture of the man who represents God. What are you trying to hide?” He could not disagree. More than anything else, that single letter convinced Mr. Armstrong to admit the truth, and he and his wife had the now well-known formal portrait taken in 1966 or 1967.

Mr. Pack also did not want a focus on himself. Over time, his thinking grudgingly evolved to the understanding that he should at least permit the presentation of a short story. The Foreword explained the duty we—and he—came to understand. After Mr. Pack finally agreed to have the biography written, he realized it would need to be done correctly.

The actual project of writing Mr. Pack’s biography began in the summer of 2006, and soon after it became clear that any “short story” version was neither realistic nor even possible. He had lived too long a life of rich experiences. The recounting grew first from a short story to one volume, until it was discovered that even this was not large enough. The writers came to understand why Mr. Armstrong’s book was over 1,000 pages just to the point of 1959, and almost 1,300 pages (plus over 100 more counting pictures) after it was expanded upon his death.

Similar to the reasons for Mr. Armstrong’s autobiography, these volumes introduce the man behind The Restored Church of God. It documents the events that shaped and molded his life—the people he has met and been influenced by, the events he has experienced, the childhood environment in which he was reared, and his unique training.

Until now, people have been familiar with Mr. Pack’s life only in isolated snippets, scattered throughout the hundreds of sermons and thousands of pages of literature he has produced. This biography is a compilation of these accounts and draws upon hundreds of additional hours of interviews from a variety of sources, naturally including Mr. Pack, but also numerous members of his family. (These include his children, son-in-law, brother, uncle, and deceased wife, as well as second wife.) But there were several others.

The reader will see that these accounts demonstrate that faith is not merely a “warm, fuzzy feeling” or a vague religious notion, as so many millions of professing Christians believe. Rather, true faith is living—it involves works, actions, deeds and conduct. Those who put God first—who “walk by faith, not by sight” (II Cor. 5:7), and many times in the face of the sorest of trials, the kind involving severe persecution and injustice—will be delivered. The God of the Bible always provides for the needs of those who obey Him, as the examples in these books will make plain.

Many fail to comprehend that God works through flesh. While all people are imperfect and all people make mistakes, it is vital to recognize that God has always chosen to work through human beings—flawed “clay pots.” But when a man determines to yield himself to Christ—when he dedicates his life to following the will of God no matter what—God can use that man to accomplish the impossible (Matt. 19:26; Phil. 4:13).

As you read this biography, you will see that God tries, tests and proves His servants time and time again—over and over and over—and He has to do this, not only because trials both reveal character and build it, but He must know and understand the heart and mind of the human instrument through whom He is working.

How much more and greater become these trials and tests if the man at their center has been chosen for extraordinary and difficult responsibility?

Similar lessons are reflected time and again in Herbert W. Armstrong’s autobiography, just as they are in The Authorized Biography of David C. Pack. Yet this book is different from Mr. Armstrong’s autobiography due to the many differences between the life of Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Pack. First, recognize that Mr. Armstrong wrote his own life story. Obviously, it carries his voice in first-person throughout. Mr. Pack largely participated in what others wrote. This makes the two stories different in style and manner of writing.

Then, God called Mr. Armstrong when he was already 34 years old and married for 10 years with two children. He first opened Mr. Pack’s eyes to the truth when he was half as old—a teenager of just 17. Then, Mr. Armstrong had very little time to prepare for the role of leading the Church, while Mr. Pack was blessed with many years of comprehensive—and intensive!—preparation before coming to the same position.

There is also the length of the Work that God required of these men. The twentieth-century Work carried out through Mr. Armstrong lasted 52 years. God’s final Work will be much shorter due to the time left in the age—although it may grow to similar or even greater size because of what is at stake today for a world of now much greater population. A related difference is that Mr. Armstrong was given much more time to learn on the job—as the established leader of the Church—before the Work grew to immense worldwide proportion, while Mr. Pack had much less time because so many were spilling out of the apostasy and its splinters looking for the right place to be.

Even the photographs from each man’s childhood and early years into adulthood are very different in style. Mr. Armstrong came from a more formal time, when people seemed to dress for a photographic portrait every day. This is in contrast to a man who was born over 56 years later into a much less formal post-Depression and World War II culture. Pictures generally appear more spontaneous and casual.

Finally, Mr. Armstrong was Mr. Pack’s teacher, not the other way around. Mr. Pack attended Ambassador College, while Mr. Armstrong started and led it.

However, there are similarities seen throughout the two men’s biographies, with the most notable being that both men led lives of submission to God’s will, coupled with a unique determination not to compromise any of His truth, no matter how seemingly “small” or “minor” the point.

It is the writers’ hope that what is written provides an inside look and gives deeper meaning to what shaped the man who leads The Restored Church of God and God’s final Work in this age.

Introduction – Penelope Van Princes

Personal experiences, environment, exposure to good teachers, and the influence and examples of countless numbers of other people shape the lives of every human being. The story of one person’s life is often best covered after an introduction to the people who shaped him or her, and can begin with that of just one other, born sometimes generations before.

A Voyage Across the Atlantic

In 1622, Penelope Thomson was born in Amsterdam, Holland. Her mother was Dutch and her father was an English minister who fled from Britain to escape religious persecution. Penelope eventually grew up and married a fellow Dutchman, Kent Van Princes.

Shortly after exchanging marriage vows, 18-year-old Penelope and her husband joined other Dutch emigrants and boarded a ship in 1640 bound for the New World—America. Their destination was New Amsterdam, a thriving Dutch settlement at the lower tip of Manhattan Island that later became part of New York City.

During the two-month voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, Kent became deathly ill, suffering from a high fever and delirium. Though he survived the grueling journey, the vessel ran aground on a rocky shoal near Sandy Hook, a peninsula jutting into the ocean approximately 40 miles south of Manhattan in present day New Jersey. Most of the travelers survived the wreck, but were forced to abandon ship. Passengers and crew members aided Penelope and her husband safely to shore.

Shipwrecked on an exposed and desolate sandbar, the settlers feared for their lives. They were well aware of the fighting between the European colonists and the Delaware Indians that inhabited the area. Quickly gathering any available provisions from the wreckage, they decided to head for New Amsterdam and seek protection at its fort. However, the travelers knew that carrying the sick would slow them down greatly, and, fearing that bringing along the now-unconscious man would risk all their lives, they made the difficult decision to leave him behind. Before departing, they hid the helpless man and his spouse, who refused to leave his side, in the nearby woods. They tried to make them as comfortable as possible, promising to send help as soon as they reached the New Amsterdam fort.

Abandoned and with her husband near death, Penelope’s worst fears were realized when Indian warriors discovered the couple the next morning.

Although historical accounts slightly differ, the Indians—due to their markings, clothing, feathers and general appearance—were most likely not of the Delaware tribe, but rather part of a traveling Mohawk war party. The heavily armed savages attacked the helpless pair and stripped them. Kent was killed instantly by a tomahawk blow to the head. The warriors slashed Penelope across her abdomen so deeply that her intestines were exposed. Then they left the young woman for dead—her skull partially scalped and fractured, and her shoulder and arm badly mutilated.

Mustering just enough strength to crawl into a nearby log to hide from possible future attacks, Penelope awaited what would be certain death. Fearful, grief-stricken and in agonizing pain, she hid for several days, able to survive by eating moss, tree sap and parts of the decaying log, all while holding together the gaping abdominal wound with her hand.

As her husband lay dead nearby, Penelope clung to life in the hollow tree. The hours passed as she sorrowfully contemplated the journey to the New World. Thoughts that were once filled with hope now brought tears of despair. Famished, weak and near death, it seemed as though her demise was inevitable.

On the eighth day after the attack, however, she spotted a deer passing nearby with arrows buried in its hide. Indians! Penelope found herself now hoping they would find her. If they did not help, she reasoned, they would at least end her misery.

Almost immediately after seeing the deer, a hunting dog sniffed her hiding spot, and two hunters found her. As the younger of the men moved toward the defenseless woman—his weapon ready to strike—the older Indian intervened and saved her life. He wrapped Penelope in deerskin and hoisted her over his shoulder. The pain was so intense, she fainted.

Bond Formed

Regaining consciousness, the young woman awoke to the sounds of children playing in a strange place—a wigwam—without any knowledge of how long she had been there. She soon discovered that the pain had lessened, mudpacks now covered wounds, and gashes were stitched together by fishbone needle and vegetable fiber. Someone had cared for her, but who? The last person she had seen was a warrior.

She learned the man who rescued and nursed her back to health was Chief Tisquantum of the Lenni Lenape tribe and the Algonquian language. Along with his native tongue, he spoke some English and the two were able to communicate. Penelope spent many weeks under the chief’s care gradually regaining her strength. During this period, Tisquantum learned more of the English language from her, and slowly a strong bond of friendship grew.

After a full recovery, Penelope and Chief Tisquantum made the journey to New Amsterdam, where her unbelievable tale of survival shocked fellow passengers from Holland. They were stunned to learn she was alive.

A few years after settling in the New World city, Penelope married Richard Stout in 1644. Born in Nottinghamshire, England, in 1604, Richard settled in the Dutch colony after his seven-year enlistment expired in the British Royal Navy.

The Stouts eventually moved to Gravesend, Long Island, later known as Brooklyn, New York. Some years later, the couple helped establish a small colony in southern New Jersey near the location of the shipwreck years before.

Over the years, as Richard and Penelope raised their seven sons and three daughters, Penelope never forgot Chief Tisquantum’s kindness.

In fact, their strong bond again saved Penelope’s life—and the lives of her family in 1664. After hearing of an impending attack on the family’s small settlement by a rival Indian tribe, Tisquantum quickly alerted her to the danger. The settlers took action, with the men gathering the women and children, including Penelope, into canoes. They ordered them to paddle offshore and hide in the dark waters overnight. Richard organized the men of the town, with rifles ready, to spring a trap on the attackers.

As expected, the Indian warriors struck. But to everyone’s surprise, Richard Stout bravely walked up to them and, without a single shot fired, negotiated with them. His efforts resulted in a peaceful treaty that lasted for decades. That same treaty with the Delaware Indians prompted the original Monmouth Land Patent, a community founded for religious freedom. Richard was one of the original 12 landholders.

Without Tisquantum’s warning, the Stout family would likely have been killed. They remained lifelong friends until his death many years later.

­ Many Descendants

More than 90 years after the savage attack and her rescue, Penelope died—at the age of 110! Astonishingly, at the time of her death in 1732, she had more than 502 direct living descendants.

Penelope and Richard Stout’s eldest daughter, Mary, married Captain James Bowne (also known as Bound). Their son John married Lydia Holmes. Their daughter Sarah married Richard Salter, who had a daughter named Hannah. Hannah Salter married Mordecai Lincoln, who had a son named John. John Lincoln married Rebecca Flowers, who had a son Abraham. Abraham Lincoln married Bersheba Herring, who had a son Thomas. Thomas Lincoln married Nancy Hanks, and on February 12, 1809, in Hodgenville, Kentucky, the couple had a son whom they named Abraham—the man who became the 16th President of the United States.

Penelope and Richard Stout’s third child, James, grew up to marry Elizabeth Truax. Their son James Stout II, born in 1700, married Johanna Johnson. Thomas, the couple’s firstborn son, and Jannetje Vroom Van Stee, his second wife, had a son, whom they named Richard. This Richard Stout married Elizabeth Van Nest and their daughter, Jane, born in 1826, married George Crowl.

This couple’s fourth child, Frank S. Crowl, married Emma Matilda “Tillie” Smith in 1882. Frank and Emma’s oldest son, Ralph, married Marie Hitchens, and the only daughter of this couple, Jane Crowl, married Randall (always known as Ran or Buddy) Edwards Pack in 1944. Randall and Jane Pack’s first son, and second child, was born December 7, 1948 in Kenton, Ohio.

His name was David Crowl Pack.

Additional Genealogical Discoveries

One of Mr. Pack’s first cousins discovered there were a variety of remarkable and influential people in the family line that in some cases go back hundreds and even thousands of years.

Herbert W. Armstrong was excited to learn at a point that he was a direct descendant of the ancient King David of the Bible. David, who died in approximately 962 BC in Jerusalem, was the renowned king of the 12 tribes of Israel. Mr. Armstrong shared this knowledge with the membership of The Worldwide Church of God, who found it fascinating.

Mr. Pack learned that he was also a direct descendant of King David, and that this could be traced through two separate branches of the Davidic line, one through Mary, Jesus’ mother. This was made plain through the well-known genealogy of Queen Elizabeth II, coupled with other historical sources.

This link was made clear when genealogical research revealed that Mr. Pack is a direct descendant of the royal line of Wessex kings. Wessex was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in England from the sixth century to the 10th century. For instance, Cerdric King of Wessex, who founded Wessex and died in AD 534, is Mr. Pack’s 47th great-grandfather. Other examples include Cynric King of Wessex—Ceawlin King of Wessex—Ceowald Prince of Wessex, and a great many more.

After this information was found, Mr. Pack’s cousin also learned that they are related to certain kings of Scotland. For instance, Eochaid IV King of Scotland (lived AD 747-819) is Mr. Pack’s 37th Great-Grandfather. He is also related to Kenneth I MacAlpin, the Conqueror of Scotland (reigned AD 843-858) and King Kenneth II of Scotland (reigned AD 971-995).

This royal line also included some of the kings of England, such as Henry II, Mr. Pack’s 24th Great-Grandfather. Henry II became king in 1154 and occupied the throne until his death in 1189.

Early historian and politician, Sir Winston Churchill (1620-1688), ancestor of the famous 20th-century British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, wrote that Henry II was “…the very greatest king that England ever knew…” (Divi Britannici, 1675). Historians record that he had tremendous energy, an incredible memory, a love of history and is seen by many as one of the most effective English monarchs. He is also credited for founding English Common Law due to his care for and attention to justice, which was virtually unknown during his predecessor’s reign. Mr. Pack can also trace his roots to William I (1028 to 1087) and Henry I King of England (reigned 1069-1135).

Tying into Elizabeth II’s genealogy by itself means one can trace his or her roots directly to Adam and Eve. The reader may enjoy perusing Elizabeth II’s royal genealogy, posted on the Internet on various websites.

Tracing the line much further back, it also came to light that Herod the Great, king of Judea (lived 73-4 BC) is Mr. Pack’s 63rd great-grandfather (and Henry II’s 37th great-grandfather). Considered the wealthiest man in the world in his day, Herod married into the lines of the Caesars. Within the Roman Empire, Emperor Marcus Aurelius (lived AD 121-180) is Mr. Pack’s 56th great-grandfather. Commodus, Marcus Aurelius’ son, becomes his 55th great-grandfather. Many other Roman emperors after Commodus are in a direct line to Mr. Pack’s family as well. The same is true of Mr. Pack’s 38th great-grandfather, Charles Martel (AD 688-741), a Frankish military and political leader who “reunited and ruled the entire Frankish realm and stemmed the Muslim invasion at Poitiers in 732” (Encyclopaedia Britannica).

Much more could be included here. However, this genealogical information serves as background in understanding the life of David C. Pack.

Chapter One – Every Family Has a Story

David Pack was blessed to be born into a remarkable and diverse family of corporate leaders, military officers, literary authors, winning salesmen and successful entrepreneurs, as well as others who brought an unusual sense of cultural training and refinement. Most important, it was an extended family whose men and women exhibited special strength of character and vision, often in the midst of severe trials, which would prove to be a continuing theme even to the present day.

David’s father served as a U.S. Army officer and pilot at the European front in the Second World War. Having survived three aircraft crashes and heavy rounds of enemy fire, he returned to civilian life after the war and started several successful businesses, and this included an award-winning 19-year career in sales.

“Uncle Bill,” Dave’s paternal uncle, who fought as a Navy pilot in World War II, was a captain in the U.S. Navy (equivalent to a full colonel in the army). He was at Pearl Harbor during the infamous December 7, 1941 attack, and in his career he went on to command several major naval air bases across the United States. It was in New Brunswick, Maine, that he had the opportunity to host President John F. Kennedy on several occasions, and it is thought also President Dwight Eisenhower. Later in life, the retired naval captain went on to serve as the President of the American Golf Foundation for about two years, before returning to Jacksonville, Florida.

The two veteran pilots fascinated the little boy as he sat listening intently to war stories—his father crashed and was forced down in Western Europe, and his uncle was reported to have lost or damaged as many as seven aircraft in the Pacific theater. The boy envisioned planes spiraling toward the earth with a trail of thick, black smoke, as the men periodically reminisced about how many of their own United States aircraft they had personally destroyed.

Young Dave’s Uncle Frank (his mother’s younger brother) served in the Second World War as a high-speed radio operator. After the war, he directed the sales and marketing operations of the prestigious Encyclopaedia Britannica Corporation for more than 20 years. He also was the President of World Book Encyclopedia for three years. He has accumulated what is “unofficially” perhaps the largest or one of the largest privately owned libraries in existence today on the Civil War, as well as on President Lincoln and General George Armstrong Custer.

The diversity of relatives, with such varied backgrounds of experience that influenced him, afforded a young boy an interesting childhood, to say the least.

Yet perhaps the relative whose life exhibited the greatest vision, resourcefulness and natural business savvy was Ralph S. Crowl, maternal grandfather.

An Entrepreneur in the Making

Ralph Crowl was born May 12, 1890, in East Liverpool, Ohio, a city along the Ohio River where Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia intersect. At the time, the city was known for its pottery manufacturing companies.

At the turn of the century, the family moved to Marshalltown, Iowa, so that Ralph’s father could continue pursuing his profession in china sales. The town and surrounding rolling countryside offered many adventurous explorations, such as skiing during the snowy months (on skis Ralph made by hand), and learning how to make and fly kites on breezy warm days. These and other activities provided endless fun-filled afternoons for the young boy and his friends during summer and winter breaks from school.

While he received good marks during the school session, Ralph preferred to be elsewhere. (In third grade, in a one-room schoolhouse, it was discovered through careful research that one of his fellow classmates was almost certainly a first-grader named Herbert W. Armstrong.)

At the start of his final year of high school, Ralph’s father decided to move the family again, this time to Madison, Wisconsin. This conflicted with Ralph’s driving passion—football. In fact, the 16-year-old had just been selected to captain the high school team, a position he was determined to keep.

The teenager was told that if he wanted to remain behind in Iowa and play football, he would be on his own, without assistance from the family. Surprisingly, Ralph decided to stay, and from this decision, a new business and successful career were born.

To support himself for the year (remember, he was but a young senior in high school), Ralph established a company that manufactured women’s beauty products, one of which he called “Rose Silk Cream.” (The name derived from his initials: RSC.) At first, the young boy sold his product door-to-door, but soon expanded into a much larger sales operation, which gave him financial stability throughout his senior year. The new enterprise was so successful that townsfolk referred to him as the “Boy Wonder of Iowa.”

Ralph Crowl graduated from high school in 1907, and then joined his family in Wisconsin to work with his father as a salesman in the china/dinnerware business, before attending the University of Wisconsin.

Rather than joining a fraternity like most incoming freshman, Ralph started a school newspaper (which still exists today) and served as its editor and business manager. He joined a fraternity by his junior year, continuing his involvement with the campus newspaper and becoming business manager of the college yearbook.

Meantime, he published his own book, Beautiful Wisconsin, a photographic collection of 100 pictures taken from across the state. Book sales earned him $12,000 to 14,000 (approximately $286,000 today). This from a college student!

Years later, in describing his experiences at the University of Wisconsin, Ralph Crowl declared, “Most people work their way through college, but I got rich.”

Ralph was more than just a highly motivated businessman. He was also a prolific playwright, authoring as many as 30–40 completed scripts, some of which were sold and made into plays. All of these are still in the family’s possession.

The young man’s early successes gave him the experience and confidence needed to launch a host of future business ventures.

As well as attaining numerous achievements while at college, Ralph also led an active social life, making a great many friends. Still, the most important event of his life occurred in his final year at the university, when he was introduced to a beautiful young co-ed in his “sister” sorority, Marie Hitchens. She hailed from a well-to-do family in Dubuque, Iowa—her father was co-owner of the successful Hitchens Foundry. Economic prosperity had afforded Marie’s family the opportunity to send their daughter to an eastern finishing school in Irvington, New York, and later the University of Wisconsin, opportunities most young girls in the early 1900s seldom received.

Ralph and Marie became good friends, and their relationship grew, continuing for a lifetime. At her parents’ home in Waterloo, Iowa, Ralph and Marie were married December 2, 1915.

Crushed by the Great Depression

After college graduation and his wedding, Ralph Crowl was hired by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, where he quickly became the firm’s top salesman. During this period he had occasion to write a book on how two salesmen should work together to sell insurance. It became an industry standard.

After a three-year stint at the insurance company, Ralph decided to pursue his interest in construction and development. By the early 1920s, he owned a thriving construction company in Madison, Wisconsin, with another of his ventures (a bonding company) providing financing for many projects as well as his other business. Both companies were responsible for the design, building and financing of fraternity buildings at every one of the “Big Ten” campuses across the American Midwest—the universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Chicago (at that time), Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Purdue. By the end of the decade, Ralph had 11 building projects underway, with several others in the planning stages.

But on October 24, 1929, calamity struck. “Black Thursday,” better known as the day of the infamous Stock Market Crash, plunged the country into economic turmoil. While this dark day did not instantly usher in the Great Depression (its impact was only fully realized in succeeding years), it did trigger a financial “wake-up call” for Ralph and his business colleagues.

Despite the country’s uncertain economic situation, Ralph Crowl forged ahead with optimism, starting five more fraternity building projects after the crash. Ultimately, however, all the fraternities went bankrupt, defaulting on their construction loans—many of which Ralph’s bonding company held. He was forced to stop all projects and sort out the financial mess.

It was not until two years after the initial market crash that the Crowl family felt the full economic sting of what would be the Great Depression. Ralph could no longer afford their magnificent colonial lakeside home in Madison, Wisconsin. He had to dispose of one of his two cars. He lost 5,000 acres of northern Wisconsin farmland he had purchased through other business ventures in real estate. In addition, Ralph had to borrow money to pay off debts. He lost approximately 2.3 million dollars of that time in investments, property and cash.

With the business and home lost, a new era and life began for the Crowls. Reluctantly, Ralph decided to move his then family of five into an apartment in Indianapolis, Indiana. Feeling he had let his family down, he borrowed $500 to take his family on a final Wisconsin vacation, a steamboat trip up the Mississippi River. The family spent several days camping along the river, exploring its banks, and watching and waving as ships passed, their paddlewheels churning the expansive waterway.

Years later, Ralph joked that suddenly losing more than $2 million was such a painful experience, he never wanted to earn that much money again. He determined to limit himself to accumulating “only” $700,000–800,000 at any one time, for fear of losing it all and having to again rebuild from nothing.

Creative Skillful Salesmanship

Not only did Ralph Crowl’s early financial achievements define him, so did his innovative ability to recover from seemingly overwhelming obstacles. Despite difficult financial setbacks, he was determined to use experiences and contacts from his fraternity construction days to create a new type of life insurance policy.

Ralph merged two concepts into one: people who wanted life insurance, and alumni who wanted to support the institution from which they graduated. His plan was to sell an $11,000 life insurance policy—$10,000 as a death benefit for a person’s family, with an additional $1,000 university endowment attached for the school or university of that person’s choice.

Ralph proposed this relatively simple yet brilliant idea to American United Life Insurance, which underwrote a special policy for him to sell. He then traveled the Midwest visiting “Big Ten” universities and certain military academies, presenting the policy to large groups of alumni.

Ralph sold millions of dollars worth of life insurance, and was American Life’s top salesman for three consecutive years. In less than two years he was able to move his family into another beautiful home, this time in Lebanon, Indiana, on a golf course, where his three children—Richard, Jane and Frank—spent the majority of their childhood.

Truly an entrepreneur at heart, after only a few years of selling life insurance, Ralph was ready for a more challenging opportunity.

One soon came.

Another Extraordinary Setback

Ralph Crowl’s reputation in Lebanon as a successful businessman led to becoming good friends with brothers Herman and Carl Winkler, chief engineer and president, respectively, of the Winkler Stoker Co., which manufactured the first automatic-feed coal stoker stove.

Unlike heating a house today, which only involves adjusting an electronic thermostat, people in the 1930s heated their homes with coal. The fuel had to be shoveled into a furnace several times a day—a very messy, dirty task. The Winklers manufactured a newly designed automatic stove that revolutionized the process: It only required loading once a week.

Ralph explained to his friends that they were producing a wonderful, innovative product, but that it suffered from poor sales because they did not know how to market it effectively. It took some time for him to persuade the Winkler brothers, but one day Carl gave in. “Well, Ralph,” he said, “if you think you can sell them so well, go ahead and try.”

With that, Ralph Crowl was hired. His salary was low, but it came with a large, specially designed performance-based bonus he had written into his agreement. In less than three years, Ralph tripled sales—and Winkler Stoker (later renamed U.S. Machine Corporation) became the largest stoker stove company in the country—quite a feat, considering stoker stoves were at that time the primary source of heating for homes throughout the United States.

In his final years with Winkler Stoker, Ralph Crowl received a bonus of more than $250,000 (worth at least $3 million today). In a complex legal maneuver, he put nearly all of it into real estate options, which included a rustic old mill in Sugar Creek, Indiana. His plan was to rebuild the property, including the mill, into a new state park.

After investing the rest of his money and paying taxes, Ralph had a “disagreement” with the Internal Revenue Service over the taxation of his bonus money. He had paid taxes on it based on the capital gains rate of about five percent (technically, and according to current tax law, correct). However, the IRS did not agree, calling the bonus “income.” In short, Ralph was stuck with a tax bill of more than $80,000 (over $900,000 today)—and had only three months in which to pay it!

Ralph Crowl—a man with a proven ability to overcome what would look like insurmountable obstacles to most—was undaunted, summoning his natural entrepreneurial skills to devise a solution. His son, Frank, remembered the day his father made a statement that became legendary in the family history: The three children played nearby as Ralph sat in the living room working out a plan to pay the tax bill. No longer able to concentrate due to their commotion, he said, “Quiet children! I’m trying to figure out how to make $80,000 in the next three months!”

Amazingly, he did it. An article he read in a business journal, regarding the abundance of Holstein calves in Wisconsin, inspired him. Farmers often sold their extra stock to produce veal for as little as $20 per calf. At the time, all calves, especially premium Wisconsin calves from the “dairy state,” were in great demand in the lower Midwest, particularly Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, where farmers paid $50 or more per head of cattle.

Recognizing this as a lucrative business opportunity, Ralph bought hundreds of calves at a time for $20 each through a corporation he established, the Farmers & Dairy Cattle Breeders Association. Selling hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of calves at a time earned him between $10,000 and $20,000 per week. He quickly paid off his tax obligations, and began to build a new small fortune through the few years he worked in the cattle business.

Introduction to Parents

Of Ralph and Marie Crowl’s three children, their daughter, Jane, was born November 19, 1921, at a local hospital in Waterloo, Iowa.

Shortly after Jane’s birth, the Crowl family moved to a large country estate on its own private cove on the shores of Lake Mendota in beautiful Madison. (The governor of Wisconsin later asked her father for permission to model the governor’s mansion, about a mile away, after this home; that mansion is still used today.) There little Jane enjoyed a wonderful childhood with her two brothers, Richard, the oldest, and Frank. She was especially close to Frank, who was exactly 15 months younger. The two spent summers swimming in the lake and winters playing on its frozen surface.

After moving twice with her family after the 1929 Stock Market crash, Jane graduated high school in Lebanon, Ohio in 1940. That fall, she entered Western College for women in Oxford, Ohio.

Chance Meeting

Three years later, as World War II waged on, Jane Crowl accompanied Frank to a homecoming football game at his school, Wabash College, an exclusive men’s college in western Indiana. One of Frank’s close college friends joined them, bringing with him his fraternity brother, Ran E. (Bud) Pack.

Prior to the war, Ran had also attended Wabash for two years, where he had been a standout all-state halfback. But like many other young men of his time, he prematurely left school and, following his brother, voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Navy. “Washing out” of naval pilot training school, Ran wanted to serve his country so badly that he actually misrepresented what happened so that he would be accepted into the army’s pilot training school. The 23-year-old completed his training and was made a second lieutenant, waiting to be deployed to Europe, when he and Jane Crowl first met in the car on the way to the game. Jane was immediately taken by his charm, wit—and military uniform!

Afterward, Ran Pack returned to base in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, awaiting assignment to Europe. While stationed there, he and Jane corresponded for months. Their relationship blossomed into engagement just as Ran (who had been promoted to First Lieutenant) prepared to ship out to France (and later Germany) for the Allied invasion in the spring of 1944. Just days before his departure, Ran and Jane were married at the Hattiesburg army base on April 8, 1944.

Ran was an artillery pilot—flying a tiny “canvas and wood” Piper Cub, with a top speed of 70 miles an hour—who would fly at the Battle of the Bulge. His plane—what he called “little more than kindling”—took heavy German fire during an assignment in which he replaced six consecutive pilots who were all killed before him fulfilling the same duties.

Eventually the war ended and Lieutenant Pack returned home safely in the summer of 1945. Armed with more than $3,000 he had won playing poker on the Queen Mary returning from Europe (Ran was known as a master poker player), he was unsure how he would make a living, support his wife and start a family “stateside.” (Ran later taught his three children to play “matchstick” and “penny” poker around the dining room table from the time Dave was as young as six. This was done to carefully teach them the value of money, even pennies, and that they should only play poker for fun at home with the family—among other lessons related to card playing.)

Mr. Pack senior did not have to wait long for an opportunity to present itself.

Opportunity Knocks

Upon his return, Ran’s new father-in-law asked him to enter his already successful cattle operation. Full of optimism, his son-in-law jumped at the chance. He and his young wife moved back to Crawfordsville, Indiana (he had previously lived there in college and she had lived just outside the city on her father’s farm for a time), where he helped organize the business under Ralph’s direction. Ran took orders for calves and made deliveries by truck across the lower Midwest. He earned a then staggering $3 per calf, about $3,000 a week—an enormous income for 1946.

Since farmers paid in cash, it was the most money Ran and Jane had ever seen at one time.

There is a long-held family story in which the newlyweds had “thousands of dollars spread out in a pile all over the bed in a motel room,” and were “throwing it in the air” and playing with it in disbelief that the calf business permitted anyone to make so much money so quickly. It was considered a signature moment that captured the pervasive post-war optimism of the nation.

Ran gained valuable experience from Ralph Crowl that served him for the rest of his life in running successful business ventures of his own. One of the life lessons he learned had to do with humility. When Ran determined he should earn $5 per calf from his father-in-law—who was receiving $20 each—he (in his own words) “got a little big for his britches.” Overestimating the value of his role in the operation, Ran confronted his father-in-law over the matter. When Ralph Crowl told his son-in-law he would only be paid $3 per calf, Ran “bit off his own nose, to spite his face” and quit—and his lucrative income came to a screeching halt.

For the remainder of his life, Ran Pack never forgot this painful experience. By having too high an opinion of himself—his abilities and contributions to his father-in-law’s business—his self-importance and impetuousness cost him his job.

It was stories such as these that young Dave heard time and again while growing up.

Raising a Family in the Great Depression

One reason that Ran was able to accept his significant “business” setback was due to his own extremely humble beginnings.

In contrast to his mother’s comfortable upbringing, Mr. Pack’s father (in his own words) “had it very difficult!” on the inner city streets of Indianapolis, Indiana. Although Ran’s parents both came from relatively affluent families, times for their oldest son (Ran Pack’s father, William R. Pack) were personally difficult later during the Great Depression.

Ran’s father, William Randall, was a World War I veteran, born in Syracuse, New York. (Not a weakling, he would later tell his grandchildren that he was able to do 13 pull-ups with his full gear on.) His own grandfather, Lieutenant Randall Lower, also of Syracuse, was killed in the Civil War on the first day of battle at Gettysburg (July 1, 1863). Lt. Lower, whose daughter went on to marry William’s father, Charles L. Pack, is the first known Randall in a family that later even had girls named Randi. David Pack’s first son would be given this name.

Returning home from the war, William, in 1917, married Mary Johnston, one of 11 children who had grown up on a large and successful farm outside Bedford, Indiana. The newlyweds started a family in Indianapolis.

William Randall Pack was basically a “ne’er-do-well” who bounced from job to job due to his laziness and volatile temper. Though having been reared a privileged son of very successful parents, as were all of his four siblings, he spent more time visiting pool halls and bars than at home. William deserted his wife and family numerous times for extended periods. And even when he was around, the husband and father barely provided for them.

Worst of Times

More than once, young Ran (nicknamed “Buddy” or “Bud” throughout his life) and his older brother Billy returned home from grade school only to discover the family had been evicted—yet again—with their furniture and clothes cast aside on the front lawn. On one desperate occasion, the family was left homeless, standing outside in the rain with their belongings, and nowhere to go. But there were other situations almost the same. These heartbreaking experiences were burned into the little boy’s mind. These challenges caused his very hardworking mother, brother and himself to forge an unusually close bond that would help them survive continued adversity.

These personal experiences were so important to Ran that, years later when Dave and his younger brother Bill were early teenagers, he would take his two boys to Indianapolis so that they could walk through the neighborhood of tenement houses where he had lived as a boy. It was Ran’s intention that his children never forget how privileged was their own upbringing.

During William’s bouts of familial neglect in the early twenties and late thirties, he periodically left Ohio and returned to Buffalo, New York, where he would reside for extended periods, and then would return to his family. This happened numerous times. In 1935, during the middle of the Great Depression, he finally deserted Mary and his two teenage sons for good, without even a good-bye to the sons who were away at camp.

Ran Pack’s Humble Beginnings

Ran’s family, left on the brink of abject poverty, resorted to extreme measures to survive. Although they received some assistance from Mary’s relatives—free dental work and occasional housing—times were difficult nationwide.

For more than three months, young Buddy and Billy ate nothing but bologna and peeled potatoes (with neither salt nor pepper)—the only two staples their family could afford. This left Buddy so constipated and sick that he had to be taken to the hospital and given enemas on more than one occasion. Several times his young body became so toxic and full of infection due to a lack of nutrients, he had to have big clusters of carbuncles (large boils) lanced. These left visible scars he carried for the rest of his life—he (thoughtfully) made sure his children understood what had happened.

At one point, circumstances were so grim that Mary, who almost always had to work two jobs, sent Ran to temporarily live with his aunt and uncle in Bloomington, Indiana. It was a difficult trial for an eight-year-old because he was forced to spend his entire third grade year far from his brother and mother.

The following summer, circumstances permitted Ran to return home. Though times were still very hard, Mary Pack took her boys to the neighborhood hardware store and bought seeds, which Ran, aged 10, and Billy, 12, used to help support and feed the family. The boys used the fertile soil of the city dump, adjacent to their home, and grew vegetables in a small, closely kept garden they created in the rich soil to supplement their meager diet. Despite having to endure severe hardship for years, Mary Pack did all she could to provide her boys with every opportunity to succeed.

The day-to-day experiences of the Great Depression forged a toughness in families such as the Packs, an attribute rarely found in later generations. This early suffering also created a special bond between young Buddy and Billy in a way that most siblings seldom share.

Such grim childhood experiences would influence Ran Pack to strive in giving his children opportunities he never had, yet never in a way that would make it “easy on them.” Years later when Dave, age nine, heard about his father and uncle having kept a garden in the city dump (Ran had taken his sons to visit the spot where the vegetables were grown), the boy was so inspired that he planted his own vegetable garden—“specializing in overgrown (10-feet-high) asparagus”—in the Packs’ corner backyard.

Though William Pack was largely absent and failed to provide for his family, he did ingrain certain positive character traits in his sons. Strangely, before disappearing, he had always instructed them to be strong—to absolutely never quit—to never back down from a fight—and to “stand up straight like a man.” Ran Pack deeply internalized these lessons into a personal resolve to surmount whatever hardship he faced as he entered his teenage years.

These would be lessons Ran revisited with his son(s) on many occasions.

At age 16, Ran worked during summer vacation at his uncle’s bakery in Indianapolis. He sliced bread by hand eight hours a day, six days a week, including 16 hours every Friday preparing for the weekend. This brought the young teenager to a career-defining moment.

“It was the greatest job I ever had,” he said looking back, “because I hated it the most.” The experience motivated him to strive for success—so that he would never have to work in such a dull, monotonous position again! He later taught this lesson to his sons, deliberately requiring them to perform a host of repetitive, and sometimes very boring, tasks and chores throughout their childhood. (Subsequently, these words of wisdom were encouraging later in life for his oldest son, when working in Ambassador College’s Mailing Department, tediously stuffing envelopes and repeating certain “assembly line” tasks for hours at a time.)

Ran’s determination and “grit,” perhaps the biggest reason he developed into a star athlete, caught the attention of a wealthy sponsor in Indianapolis who put him on full scholarship, anonymously, to the Park Preparatory School in 1939—an honor given to only one graduating senior each year from each Indianapolis high school. (Ran’s Indianapolis high school was the second largest in America, with 5,000 students!) Ran achieved acceptable marks academically at the school, and at 6’ 2 1/2’’ was the star running back on the football team and the leading scorer on the basketball team, which won the Midwestern Championship. His achievements led to his receiving a scholarship to prestigious Wabash College—the event that would lead to his meeting Jane Crowl’s brother. David Pack recalls,

“In the spring of 2004 I finally got to visit Wabash College for the first time. It was only then that I truly understood how special had been my father’s and two uncles’ education there.

“I stopped my car in the college common and asked directions of three students walking by. When I explained that my father and two uncles had attended there 65 years earlier, this was overheard by two other groups of students who were walking by. Both groups immediately approached me incredulous that I had three family members who had attended their school. They had more questions for me than I had for them, wanting to know details about the three men. I found myself sort of holding court in a very strange, but inspiring, setting. I had even more respect for my father and uncles, even though two of them were gone.

“This speaks volumes to how elite this school is, as well as to how the students there both understand this, and reflect it in their respect to the relatives of alumni even so long ago.”

Merging Differences to Build a Happy Marriage

After leaving the cattle business, Ran took the money he had saved while working for his father-in-law, pooled with the money he had won playing poker (and had wisely saved) returning from the war, and purchased a juice bottling business in southern Indiana.

However, his days in juice bottling were short-lived. After purchasing a large amount of inventory and establishing a customer distribution, the final step involved leasing storage space for his newly bottled juice products (basically carbonated orange-ade). But the Packs did not properly analyze and completely understand the correct method of storage for their product.

Lying in bed in the rented apartment above the plant one Friday evening in the summer, the Packs heard popping sounds coming from the warehouse below. Going down to investigate, they discovered thousands of exploding bottles of juice! Because the rented facility was not air-conditioned, the building had slowly heated like an oven, causing all of the freshly bottled juices to explode. The explosions were also partly due to Ran and Jane not knowing they should have left enough room for natural expansion due to carbonation within the juice.

The couple was numbed by the sight of their new business literally broken and destroyed on the floor in front of them. The huge pile of sticky wooden crates, glass and goo left them wiped out. Just as Ran’s days in the cattle business had quickly ended, so did his days in the juice bottling business. But it was merely another time to start over.

Following the fiasco, Jane Pack gave birth to their daughter, Deborah, on November 7, 1947, in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Not long after their daughter’s birth, Ran and his wife, now pregnant for the second time, moved in the middle of 1948 to Kenton, Ohio, where Ran had been assigned as a salesman for Kurfees Paint Company, a large regional firm headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky.

Like many other couples in the first years following WWII, Ran and Jane Pack were excited to finally focus on settling down and rearing a family.

Chapter Two – Early Childhood

On December 7, 1948, just 13 months after their daughter’s birth, the Packs welcomed their firstborn son—David Crowl Pack—into the world at Kenton’s McKitrick Hospital. Because the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor had forever made December 7 “a day of infamy,” Jane would nickname this child her “Pearl Harbor baby.”

Almost three years after Dave was born, the family having moved to Lima, Ohio, a year after his birth, Jane again gave birth, this time to the Packs’ third and final child, William Randall, on September 15, 1951.

The Packs enjoyed rearing their young children in Lima, where they could work together to instill in them morals and wholesome values. Though they came from very different backgrounds, Ran and Jane merged their differences and built a strong marriage over the course of nearly five decades. They would later cite their calling into God’s Church (at the beginning of the 1970s) as the biggest reason their marriage was successful.

While Ran Pack was a “streetwise,” business-savvy salesman, his wife, though still young and not yet practical, was extremely logical. Jane Pack was well-versed in the rules of debate and “Greek logic,” and was a disciplined thinker. As a senior in 1940, Jane, with her brother Frank, won the Indiana High School debate championships. The same year, she also won the state speech championship—an astonishing dual feat for any high school student, never mind a female student, and of that time.

These and so many other unusual parental character traits had a profound impact on the Pack children.

Early Parental Influence

Together, Ran and Jane sought to develop in their children discipline, an unwavering sense of honesty and, above all qualities, truthfulness—in every occasion and circumstance. They placed a constant emphasis on things such as “square your shoulders and admit when you are wrong,” as this was the “sign of a big man.” Because his parents had emphasized upholding ethics and integrity, Mr. Pack today looks on his parents as two of the most principled people he has ever known.

For many years, Ran enjoyed the career of a highly successful salesman who frequently traveled. Each time he returned home, Jane immediately stopped what she was doing to listen to him recount his latest trip and the sales prospects he had pursued. Their discussions always ended with him showing interest in her day, and how the children had behaved.

“I have this memory indelibly burned into my mind of my mother always dropping whatever she was doing the moment my father entered the home from an overnight trip so that she could hear about his sales exploits. I can still see them in our living room. My mother would curl her toes on the couch in her unique way and they would both enjoy a refreshment as my father would unwind.”

Jane had a magnetic and captivating personality. About average in height, she was incredibly energetic and spent much of her life organizing social events, often involving large numbers of women who found her conversation and broad range of interests “fascinating.” She also enjoyed exposing her family to a wide variety of the same kinds of cultural experiences that she had enjoyed as a child.

Tutoring Taste Buds

Her desire to broaden her children prompted one of her favorite sayings: “Tonight, children, we are going to tutor our taste buds.” As a housewife, Jane was a rare gourmet cook who prepared meals that broadened her family’s horizons. (Her daughter, partly inspired by her mother, went on to write a book on how to use sauces to elevate the quality of anything you eat.)

Because of her vivaciousness, Jane wanted to ensure that her children made the most of every single day. Young Dave and his siblings were awakened by their mother every morning with a paraphrased scripture she used (perhaps unknowingly): “Rise and shine [Isaiah 60:1], it’s a new day. Up and at’em.”

Jane also instilled in her children the rules of proper etiquette and the importance of displaying manners at the dinner table. For instance, while teaching them how to correctly use a spoon in a bowl of soup, she often reminded her son such things as, “Now David, as the ships go out to sea, I spoon my soup away from me,” and “The sign of a gentleman is how he eats when he is alone,” as well as “Get your hand back in your lap!”

Of course, the exact placement of silverware at the start of and during a meal was a matter of constant reminder and requirement. Jane Pack had been taught impeccable manners and grooming from her mother’s (Marie) experience attending the private finishing school. Mr. Pack has often referred to his mother as “someone who probably could have taught Emily Post.”

Still, because of her background in debate and speech, the majority of Mr. Pack’s early memories of his mother are of her relentless emphasis on the value of the right word choice, executing careful and proper logic, and always using the most accurate communication possible. Jane consistently stressed enunciation, grammar and precision of thought. (Decades later, he often referred to his parents in their presence as “Grandpa” and “Grammar.”)

“My mother was a stickler for not using filler words such as ‘You know,’ and she would always stop me and say, ‘No, I do not know—that’s why you are telling me.’ She would occasionally do this several times as I related a single story. It was at times frustrating, but I am thankful she did it.”

Jane Pack always prodded her children to draw logical conclusions and to use careful reasoning to dissect and understand difficult concepts. She taught them not to merely regurgitate information, but to form careful opinions and to learn lessons from all experiences. These were strict disciplines in the home.

“I attribute the majority of whatever are my speaking and writing skills directly to my parents and Grandfather Crowl, with the remainder to Ambassador College training.”

Growing Up at Shawnee Country Club

In one sense, Jane Pack brought refinement to her husband, who considered himself a “boy from the other side of the tracks.” This did not mean he was socially backward or uneducated—far from it, having attended a prestigious preparatory school and an elite private college, as well as having been a military officer.

While her husband’s family had often lived a hand-to-mouth existence during the Great Depression, Jane’s family had never gone without. Her father’s entrepreneurial skills enabled the Crowls to afford a beautiful home and exclusive country club membership, even during trying times for the rest of the country.

Ran and Jane desired the relative peace of a typical suburban lifestyle. Hence, they joined the Shawnee Golf and Country Club in the summer of 1953. There young Dave and his siblings attended club events and spent his summers swimming and later occasionally golfing. He also did some caddying to make extra money. He would wade in “hog creek” (the nickname for the Ottawa River cutting through the golf course) to find golf balls for use or sale.

A Family of Golfers

Golf seemed to be in the family’s blood. His Uncle Frank was a “scratch” player—he routinely shot par for 18 holes, and would often play 36 holes before lunch during high school summers. His Uncle Bill, also a very good golfer, oversaw the construction of golf courses at each of the three naval bases he commanded (in Pensacola and Jacksonville, Florida, and Brunswick, Maine). Again, he served as President of the American Golf Foundation for two years during the late 1960s, interacting with all the well-known professionals of that time.

Because he grew up listening to his uncles’ golf stories, young Dave took an early avid interest in playing golf at the club. But learning the game was not easy, and his mother was very particular about the way her children played. From the outset, Jane felt it was important that her son learn to golf properly, using her secondhand clubs. For several years, she allowed him to carry only irons in his golf bag. This was until she was satisfied he had learned how to “chip, putt and use long irons.”

Starting from age nine—when he shot a whopping 216 for 27 holes on the very first day he played—Dave was not permitted until age 16—seven years!—to use a driver to tee off. Nor could any woods be used. Jane challenged her son to use his size and strength to compete with and equal his friends who were using woods. While this embarrassed her son when he played with his friends, it also taught him a lesson in skill development and overcoming.

“I loved playing golf growing up. It was a game played at one’s leisure, meaning only on occasion, rather than another team sport like football, so my father and mother did not mind me playing. Many of my friends did, and my parents made sure I understood that I knew I was playing a ‘gentleman’s game.’ This meant understanding that there were points of ‘course etiquette’ to be followed at all times. This sport was a good discipline. My sons also grew up to love the sport. But it does take a lot of time I no longer have.”

“You have us”

Golfing introduces another element of his childrearing. Whenever Dave talked to his parents, no matter the issue, about what “the other kids’ parents allowed,” his parents, particularly his father, would repeat, “We’re not trying to run a popularity contest. And besides, you’ve got us, not ‘other parents.’” Ran and Jane Pack never yielded to the peer pressure their children experienced.

Enjoying a country club was not the only thing the senior Packs imparted to their children. As Dave grew up, his father taught him to become “street savvy,” meaning to “smell what’s really happening,” and helped his son acquire broad, real-world experience. This was another constant theme in the home.

Through Ran’s sales career, he had learned to successfully communicate with a wide variety of people; he was truly considered a master salesman. Both he and his wife worked together to teach their children the ability to communicate with “every kind of person.”

These skills contributed to the unusually strong bond that father and son shared until his death. Although Ran Pack was usually gone for one to three days on sales trips, young Dave treasured each moment spent with him while he was home.

In addition to becoming a good communicator, Ran taught his son to develop a strong work ethic and to be self-motivated—to “demonstrate industry.” Every summer, Ran required all three children to work in the yard for at least half an hour every day—an iron-clad rule!—before swimming or playing with friends. Ran Pack encouraged his son to spend his time wisely. If Dave ever complained that he was bored, his parents invariably replied, “There is always something to do. Be creative and find something. Read a book. Build something. Play a game. Shoot baskets in the yard by yourself. Play croquet by yourself. Play ping-pong with each other.”

From the time their children were young, the Packs wanted them to learn the value of maintaining an active mind.

Prosperous Fifties and Sixties

Considered a medium-size, peaceful Midwestern city by most, Lima, Ohio, was in reality quite prosperous. It was headquarters for companies such as Superior Coach, Lima Baldwin Hamilton, Lima Locomotive, Standard Oil and others.

In the 1950s, Lima high school residents had a saying: “There are the north end boys, east end boys, south end boys—and the rich boys.” The wealthier residents generally lived on the west side of town.

The Packs lived in a beautiful, two-story brick home, uniquely designed and with a slate roof, French doors, and wide windows and shutters, at 2222 West Spring Street on Lima’s far west side, an established neighborhood, but just one block from open fields. Though the Packs lived comfortably, they were not wealthy like almost all others in the neighborhood. Ran and Jane were very careful not to spoil their children.

Instead of owning top-of-the-line models, Jane drove used cars, including a five-year-old Ford, then a Volkswagen Beetle, followed by a 1965 Ford Mustang, the latter two of which the teenaged Dave learned to drive. On the other hand, Ran drove company cars. (After obtaining his license, the 16-year-old was sometimes given the special privilege to drive his father’s newer, larger model Ford Galaxy.)

However, many of Dave’s childhood friends grew up very differently. The family of one neighborhood friend owned the local Ford dealership. Another neighbor, the father of his closest friend, drove a 1958 Silver Cloud Rolls Royce, the only one in town. Even as a young boy, Dave appreciated the high quality of this finest of automobiles, in which he rode on numerous occasions throughout his boyhood.

“My best friend throughout my childhood lived three houses away. We met in the first grade, a few days after I had moved into the neighborhood, and were friends into high school. His parents owned a Rolls Royce, the only one in town. It was quite an experience spending much of my childhood getting to ride in a car that today would cost several hundred thousand dollars. They were absolutely wonderful to me, and in more ways than I could count. I had a virtual standing invitation to ‘sleepover’ Friday night with my friend—when my parents gave approval.”

Always Be Thankful

Though the Pack family lived in relative prosperity, unpleasant memories of growing up in the slums of Indianapolis remained in Ran’s mind. He never wanted his children to lose sight of those who were less fortunate, nor did he want them to feel as if they grew up “born with a silver spoon in their mouth.”

Whenever Ran felt that his children did not appreciate their many blessings, he had his own way of bringing them back to reality. He drove the family to the Chipmun Addition—the slums in the worst part of town. As they stared at tiny, tarpaper-roof shacks and people living in such dreadful conditions, Ran reminded them to be grateful for their home. Many were the times the children suddenly heard their father tell them to “Get in the car. You’ve forgotten your blessings. It’s time again to see others who don’t have what we do.”

These experiences were burned into the Pack children’s minds. It drove home appreciation for having what so many in the world lacked. It made them realize that though their parents wanted their lives to be comfortable, they would not permit them to be spoiled.

When he would later hear Mr. Armstrong say to God’s Church that “the greatest sin is that of ingratitude,” it was much easier for Mr. Pack to appreciate this—whether it applied to physical blessings, attending Ambassador College, being given special doctrinal truths that so few understand, being a minister of Jesus Christ, or being able to participate in the Work of God in any capacity. To this day, every one of Mr. Pack’s daily prayers almost automatically, he reports, begins with the fullest list he can recall of the previous day’s many blessings.

“Considering my father’s childhood, it should not be surprising that he absolutely despised an unappreciative attitude. If there had been an unforgivable sin in our house, this would have been it. Without my father teaching this principle so strongly, my life would have been very different. Of course, later, I would load my own children in the car for the same purpose when they needed it.”

Chapter Three – Energetic Child

Mr. Pack’s parents and family remembered him as a perpetual “bundle of energy” and an inquisitive, always buoyantly happy child. His mother often proudly referred to him as her “smiling baby boy.” As a child, he seldom cried and was extremely outgoing. Jane Pack frequently told him that he seemed to have a unique ability to enjoy whatever was happening, and referred to him until her death in 1992 as “my child with a great capacity for enjoyment.”

While visiting grocery or department stores, or crowded swimming pools with his mother, the 18- to 24-month-old toddler often ran up to children he had never seen before and spontaneously hugged them—sometimes falling on them because he was a big child. Other parents were pleasantly surprised at the youngster’s openness. Looking back, Mr. Pack believed he inherited this trait from both his parents, who balanced their roles as tough disciplinarians against being outgoing and affectionate.

“My mother’s description of me is true. But of course most mothers’ descriptions of their children are true, even when they do not want them to be. In this case, I am happy to accept the description my mother assigned me. I do very much remember as a child that I loved every minute of every day. I jumped out of bed almost ‘spring-loaded.’

“Her description of my approach to other small children when she was out shopping is also still with me today. She told the story often. I love little children, and everybody knows this. Sometimes I have seemingly almost had to leave services and ask myself if I had talked to more children than I did adults. I still like to hug them by the way—but I can report that I am much more careful not to fall on them than I once was. Happily, I now have seven grandchildren to hold.

“One of my earliest jobs making money, when I was 10 years old, was as a babysitter for a little five-year-old girl, Debbie, who lived around the block from us. I asked her mother if she needed someone to watch her daughter. The little girl was born with a serious hole in her heart, and was very thin and frail. She died suddenly a while after I had become her babysitter. I recall being devastated at the news.”

This same enthusiasm for everything, however, sometimes landed the boy in trouble. If the old saying “Cats have nine lives” is true, then little boys must have at least as many, in light of the numerous near-fatal accidents he experienced while growing up.

Miraculous Protection

In the late summer of 1949, the family took a trip to northern Wisconsin to meet with Jane’s parents. Ran and Jane sat in the front seat of the car, while their young daughter Deborah sat between them, and eight-month-old Dave was asleep in a bassinet in the back. (The government had not yet enacted laws regarding car seats and seatbelts for small children.)

As the family drove through the countryside, traveling about 55 mph, they made a sharp turn and suddenly found themselves facing a railroad crossing—just as a train was barreling into the intersection before them! Unable to stop in time, the car ahead of them sped through the crossing and just missed being crushed. Ran, realizing it was too late to brake, yanked the wheel to the right. The car swerved into the ditch and slammed into a mound of fresh construction dirt piled in it. The mound caught the automobile’s undercarriage and instantly jerked the car to a halt—within about a foot of the passing train.

The abrupt stop launched the infant from his bassinet. He sailed between his parents, over his sister’s head and slammed into the windshield, shattering the glass! Amazingly, he bounced down into his mother’s lap completely unharmed. Ran was unable to drive for the next half hour he was so shaken.

“This was among the most often told stories in our home. My father could not tell the story without struggling to get through it. In fact, usually my mother had to relate most of the details when we would want to ‘hear it again.’ Imagine the mental trauma of dealing with the idea of four people left unscratched who ALL should have been killed instantly! The car that went through the intersection ahead of my parents quickly turned around and came back, expecting that disaster had occurred.

“This incident left my father with a sense that God had protected his family. The notion was somewhat vague in his mind, but he was absolutely certain that what had happened was not an accident. I have always viewed the fact that I was unscratched in this as a ‘miracle within the miracle.’ After all, I had become a human missile. This would not be the last time direct intervention protected my life.”

“Taking a Bath”

About two years later, Dave experienced another close encounter with disaster.

His mother often took him and his sister to Mirror Lake, near Lima. Although the two-and-a-half-year-old could not yet swim, he enjoyed splashing on the shore. One summer, he ventured too close to the end of a long dock. Hearing a splash, his mother looked over the edge and realized her son had toppled into the water. She rushed to grab him as he disappeared into the murky lake, but he had “gone under.”

Moments later, the boy briefly resurfaced, bumping his head on the underside of the dock. Jane stretched out to reach him, but the distance was too far. By the time she had prepared to dive into the water, he had already again disappeared into the darkness. This time he did not reappear. She was unsure where to jump in.

Jane searched frantically until she finally spotted the top of his head just below the water’s surface. Now within reach, she grabbed him by his hair and pulled him onto the dock. Relieved, she took off his clothes and dried him off, with her child’s trembling lower lip out merely exclaiming, “I don’t want to take another bath.”

Forgetting His Parachute

Young Dave not only found adventure in public places, but also within the confines of his house and yard. At ages four and five, one of his favorite activities was playing on a swing set his parents had purchased for the backyard. He loved the thrill of swinging higher and higher until he reached the uppermost point—before jumping off. Every time his mother caught him doing this, she scolded him for being reckless and paddled him. This happened repeatedly. But Dave would not heed her warning.

Once, while leaping from the seat of the swing, the entire steel structure tipped over. (Swing sets were much heavier then, but this was a very big little boy.) As Dave hit the ground face down in the grass, the crossbar landed directly on the small of his back, pinning him. The weight and crushing blow should have paralyzed or even killed such a child.

Trapped and with no way of escape, he screamed. Jane Pack heard her son’s panicked shrieks, and rushed from the house and struggled to free him. After working to remove the steel top beam, Jane removed him from underneath the structure. Incredibly, he walked away unharmed. His mother carefully checked him over to make sure he was not hurt…and then brought him into the house and paddled him for disobeying her once again.

Yet even discipline from his mother could not keep Dave out of trouble. Like most boys, he always seemed to devise new ways of finding exciting “mischief.”

“I was a far cry from a perfect child. But it is fair to say, however, that our parents did not have any serious ‘trouble’ with their children. However, I certainly was an adventurous child. I simply could not do enough different kinds of things. In my mind, exploration and trying new activities were never to be missed.”

More Glass Breaks

Before he started attending school, one of Dave’s “best friends” was the Pack’s family dog, a three-legged collie named Sally. (An accident with a tractor mowing machine had cost her a leg from the shoulder down.) One summer, Sally gave birth to a litter of puppies, which she nurtured and cared for inside a shed in the backyard. Ran and Jane instructed their son to leave her alone. Even though Sally was a wonderful pet, the parents knew that intrusion could make the dog feel threatened.

But the eternally inquisitive child had never before seen a litter of newborn puppies. His curiosity got the best of him. He disregarded his parents’ instructions and went into the backyard, entered the shed, climbed onto a workbench next to a window, and leaned forward to get a good look at the newborns hidden behind the dog.

But he bent over too far, lost his balance, spun around—and fell through the shed window head first, blowing out the glass! Helpless, he looked around and saw still attached jagged shards encircling his neck, his head stuck through the frame where a pane had been.

In a traumatic situation such as this, a child’s normal reaction would be to immediately yank back his head—but that would have sliced into or pierced the child’s neck, probably in multiple places. In fact, it would have likely killed him. Incredibly, he remained motionless.

Jane heard her son’s frantic screams, rushed out of the house and saw that her little boy’s life was in danger. Keeping him still, she carefully plucked the glass from around his neck, and then pulled him to safety. She was relieved to see that Dave had only suffered a half-inch cut.

To this day, Mr. Pack has a scar within his right eyebrow, reminding him of the time he was miraculously protected.

Still More Glass Breaks

Another incident involving broken glass also occurred at the age of three. It occurred at the entrance to the same shed. A football was thrown to him a little too hard and knocked him backwards onto a milk bottle that broke on impact. The fall severely cut the inside of his right wrist. This time he was rushed to the hospital where the wrist was stitched closed.

Given little Dave’s tendency to find adventure in unlikely places, Jane often wondered exactly how her son would make it to adulthood!

“I remember the last three of these events as though they were yesterday, including my mother’s, and probably my father’s, worry that I might never survive childhood. And there were more accounts than those just listed. My mother used to tell stories of me as a baby in the yard crawling beyond the boundaries of my blanket toward the road whenever she looked away while she was hanging her wash. It was not until I had two sons that I realized the daily trauma that little boys give to their mothers. A couple years ago, I returned to this childhood home to revisit all of the ‘scenes of the crimes’ from so long ago. The shed is still there, and so is the shelf I fell from.”

Raining Money

Although young Dave had demonstrated a tendency of experiencing “close encounters of the worst kind,” one of the stories that the parents loved to share about their energetic son involved the time he “threw money out of the window.”

One summer afternoon, Jane instructed her four-year-old to head upstairs to take his daily nap. Young Dave (according to his mother) had just heard one of his father’s war stories. As he grudgingly marched up the steps, Jane could tell he did not have sleep on his mind.

Moments later, she heard noise coming from his room. Peering through a crack in the bedroom door, Jane saw the four-year-old hanging out the window making pretend sounds of combat and explosions. She soon discovered Dave had dropped almost all the contents from his piggy bank, one coin at a time, into the bushes below. The little boy pretended his pennies, nickels and dimes were soldiers falling off a cliff as they were shot in battle.

Not only was Dave in trouble for disobeying his mother and not taking a nap, he had also wasted his money. Later that day, his mother taught the boy a valuable lesson when she made him crawl through the bushes and dig in the dirt for a long period to retrieve the coins. For the rest of his life his mother would have fun telling people about her son who “threw money away.”

“I remember too well digging around under a big evergreen bush, sifting through the dirt, looking for the coins I had ‘lost.’ I marveled ever after that I found so few of them. I knew that I had dropped a lot of pennies, nickels and dimes from the window, but could never understand why I could not find very many. The lesson stuck, and so did the story.”

A Growing Boy’s Appetite—and Confusing Salt with Sugar

Even when small, Dave had a big appetite. His mother would tell the story that when he was three years old, he “ate 16 pancakes.” He can still vividly remember standing beside the table, unable to sit down because of the excitement as she piled his plate with more pancakes. These were not plate-filling pancakes, but neither were they silver dollar size. Two at a time, the little boy ate 16 in one sitting (standing). From that point on, his mother would affectionately refer to him as her “big eater.”

As is probably not surprising at this point, this was a curious child. From time to time, he would sneak sugar from the kitchen. On one occasion, age four, his parents were not watching and he opened the top of the salt shaker, thinking it to be sugar. Instead of the typical reaching into the cookie jar, he filled a spoon with the “sugar” and swallowed it. Partly because he had a full stomach, he immediately started vomiting. Realizing he would soon be in trouble, he ran throwing up again, out of the kitchen and out of the house. As he ran out through the garage he vomited again—and again and again—until he arrived at the side of the garage. He finally stopped at the coiled up hose, throwing up for the last time upon it.

The boy essentially had left a trail—but not exactly crumbs along a trail in the woods—for his mother! When she found out, the little boy was in trouble, but not as much as usual.

“This is another story I remember so well. I was much more concerned about being found out and punished than I was about the fact that I was violently throwing up over and over as I ran from the house. The biggest thought I remember is that my mother felt I had had punishment enough.”

Quarantined for Tuberculosis

On a more serious note, it was during this same period that Jane Pack contracted a mysterious respiratory ailment, one the doctors had trouble diagnosing. Because tuberculosis was rampant at that time (and life-threatening), physicians decided the safe thing to do was to quarantine her in a tuberculosis ward for several weeks, meaning away from her family.

Though Lima’s metropolitan area had a population of perhaps about 75,000 then, the tuberculosis hospital where Jane was quarantined was just a short walk through the woods from the Packs’ house. Young Dave would hold his sister’s hand while running across the street from their home, and head down a ravine through the woods to peer through the bushes outside the hospital. Being so young, he was confused as to why he could not “see his mommy,” and was not permitted to enter the facility where she was in isolation. Standing in front of the hospital at age four is another event never forgotten.

(In 2005, Mr. Pack returned with his sister to look for the hospital after having not seen it for over 52 years. He reported that this was one of the most surreal moments of his adult life. They found the facility, abandoned, burned out, covered in graffiti, and overgrown—but exactly where he recalled it having been as a toddler, and for the first time entered it to see where their mother had stayed. Just a year later, the building was bricked-up so no one could any longer enter it.)

“Grandma Miller”

Since Ran Pack frequently traveled on business during the week, he was unable to stay home with the children. Therefore, before Jane was quarantined, she and her husband enlisted the help of an elderly woman, Nora Miller, whom the family knew well, to care for the children. Mr. Pack first remembered reading and learning about the Bible from this woman. Regrettably, his first memories of the Scriptures were not pleasant—at least from a small boy’s perspective.

“Grandma Miller,” as she was always called, was a devout woman who felt that every young child under her care should memorize certain biblical passages, some long. Before she allowed Dave to play in the backyard, she required him to recite long passages such as the 23rd Psalm, the 100th Psalm and the “Lord’s Prayer,” all of which he learned to recite at age four.

The elderly lady realized he had an aptitude for memorizing Scripture. But Mr. Pack believed his ability was more a reflection of a young boy’s zeal to play.

“I recall Nora Miller very well. My mother must have been sick when it was summertime, because I remember being inside the house and desperately wishing that I could go outside—it was hot weather. ‘Grandma Miller’ understood this so she figured it could be motivation for me to learn Bible verses faster. She made me sit in a chair until I could repeat certain long passages, including entire smaller Psalms, just from hearing her read them to me, repeating many times. I did inherit my mother’s memory, so maybe it was already working a little bit at an early age. While it was hard work for me, of course it was also a (hard) labor of love for this woman who was teaching children who were not her own, or even her grandchildren.

“It was actually this early period that underscored the importance of being able to know from memory certain Bible passages, some of them fairly long, that I could use in visiting situations if I did not have a Bible available. It has helped many times that I could bring exact verses to a given moment—sometimes very long passages—where otherwise I would be left to talk in only general scriptural principles. When people hear verses quoted exactly, or even close, they more easily understand that they cannot wiggle out of what God expects them to do. In this regard, Nora Miller did more for me than she would know. I look forward to meeting this sweet lady again in the Resurrection.”

Thankfully, several weeks later it was discovered that his mother did not have tuberculosis—but rather a severe respiratory infection—and she returned home.

Getting Glasses

By age three, Dave was burdened with a “handicap” most other preschool boys do not have. His mother saw that he had difficulty seeing certain things. An eye examination showed that he needed glasses. This is not unusual, except for children age three.

Wearing glasses proved to be a challenge for the active boy. Dave strongly disliked wearing them, and went through a long struggle of taking them off, being disciplined by his mother for disobedience, and then being forced to put them back on. Then there was how often his glasses broke.

One hot summer day when he was 11 years old, a young “centerfielder” raced on his 3-speed bicycle to a little league baseball game. Running late, he pedaled harder, sweating profusely in the heat. He arrived at the baseball diamond with just moments to spare. As he leapt off his bike, bent over and laid it down, his glasses slid—shot!—from his sweaty face into the spokes of his still-spinning back wheel! The glasses were instantly mangled. Horrors!

Later, he was not sure what was worse that day: trying to play centerfield while squinting into the sky to see if the ball had been hit to him—or the dread of telling his mother he had broken his glasses (yet again).

Learning to Swim

One of the few times Dave was permitted to “play” without wearing his glasses was when swimming with his siblings at the country club pool. He first learned to swim at the age of three, and enjoyed getting into the “baby pool.” As his mother stood by watching, he repeatedly kicked across the small pool, often going too far and bumping his head. Jane decided to register him for swim lessons the following year.

The beginning of David Pack’s athletic career was a far cry from how it ended years later; he did not start off a strong swimmer. Because he was later extremely thin, it would take several years for him to experience any measure of success.

“For some years, the thickest part of my arms and legs were my knees and elbows. My thinness prompted one of my father’s favorite encouragements: ‘Don’t worry, son, someday the meat will catch up with the bones!’ Apparently, my skull bones were especially thick because I bumped my head so often kicking across the pool in ‘sailor dive’ position. I can remember wearing my mother out having her watch me do the same thing multiple times.”

First Big “Race”

The boy’s first day of “competitive” swimming began at an early age, a year after taking beginning lessons. He participated in “The Youngest Swimmer” competition at the Shawnee Country Club. A prize was awarded to the youngest child who could finish the race without assistance.

As the family drove to the event, four-year-old Dave, sitting in the backseat, according to his father, confidently predicting he would beat his competitors and take home the “Youngest Swimmer” prize.

But when he arrived, he realized he was competing against more than a dozen other children, each five, six and seven years of age.

At the sound of the starter gun, Dave dove into the pool, immediately swallowed water—and, according to his father, “was so slow they had to use the hour hand on the clock to time him.” How far was he behind the other swimmers? “Spectators wondered if I would finish, my dad reported.”

Though he placed behind the other competitors, Dave’s swimming career did begin with a “victory” of sorts: He became the youngest swimmer to finish the event—not quite the glorious outcome the overconfident four-year-old had expected.

Regardless of his “speed” (meaning, lack of it), it was a proud moment for both his father and mother.

Storytelling—and “Big Bear”

Salesmen are often great storytellers. It was no different for Ran—and he told many to his children. But there were other games and surprises.

“My father often sat his three children before him and told stories—usually because we begged him to ‘tell us another story.’ They all started the same—‘We went walking, walking, walking into the woods...’—but every one ended differently. We knew when he had not yet figured out how the story was going to go, because he would continue to add extra ‘walkings’ to the introduction. My father was a spellbinding storyteller.

“But the earliest memories I have of him are when he would play ‘Big Bear’ with us. He would lie down and pretend he was sleeping, a bear in hibernation. We would climb on and try to ‘secure’ him. He would slowly begin to rouse himself, growling as he did, and we would squeal with excitement, battling to hold him down so he could not ‘eat us.’ I am not sure whether we asked him more to tell stories or play ‘Big Bear,’ but these were right up there with taking us for ice cream.

“My mother was also involved in special childhood moments. One of the most exciting was when she would have all of us bury our heads in our father’s chest, with him covering our ears with his hands, while she quietly left the room to bring a surprise. We had to patiently wait until a point when she would say, ‘You can open your eyes.’ There would be brownies, popcorn balls, taffy or special candy she had made. The surprise was always her creation.

“This biography could not contain all of these kinds of things from my childhood.”

Chapter Four – Middle Years

The Packs wanted their children to receive a well-rounded education, one involving more than sports. Jane required them from a young age to read numerous books, well beyond the amount most other children would read. Even during summer breaks, she required Deborah, Dave and Bill to read at least one book per week. This may have seemed burdensome in grade school, but Dave later grew up very thankful he was forced to become an avid reader in his youth.

Over the years, beginning at an early age, he asked his mother many times about the meaning of new words he discovered in the books she assigned or that he chose to read. But Jane would send her children to the living room to look up the definitions in the exhaustive dictionary her brother, Frank, had given the family. Time and again, she required Dave to look up a word and report its definition to her. Sometimes he found himself weighing whether he should ask about a word’s meaning, certain of the response it would evoke.

As a young boy, Dave enjoyed books such as Smoky the Cowhorse by Will James, The Adventures of Lad the Dog by Albert Payson Terhune (with the others in this series), and classics such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Through such literature, he discovered reading was fun!

To help motivate his grandchildren to read as much as possible, Ralph Crowl (“Gramps”) paid each of them a dollar for every book they read. To ensure they completed the task, he required them to read a book report to him over the phone of at least 300 words.

Reading was extremely important to the entire Crowl family. For instance, Grandma Crowl (“Nonie”), confined to a wheelchair for the final 10 years of her life, read 10 books every week through this period until she died. Her son Frank has literally thousands of books in his home, and has read virtually every one, some several times.

Beloved Uncle Frank

The parents and grandparents were not the only ones who fostered an environment of learning as the Pack children grew up. Jane’s younger brother Frank also enjoyed teaching his nephews and niece.

Throughout his childhood, young Dave shared a close relationship with his Uncle Frank, and in retrospect has considered him one of the most positive and influential people of his life. Mr. Pack still regularly counsels with his 86-year-old (at this writing) uncle concerning publishing, writing and other issues.

The young boy often spent time listening to his uncle recount war stories and childhood memories, as well as detailed descriptions of individual Civil War battles.

“My uncle once spent 30 days walking every knoll and trail of just the battle of Gettysburg during a year that he took off from work. And this was just one of six trips that he made to this battlefield. Then there were so many others he visited and knew better than the guides who lived there. He talked of so many battles and details of them, and I sat enraptured when he did.”

Graduating from the same high school as his sister, and a year ahead of his class, Frank attended Wabash College, and then enlisted in the military during WWII. Mr. Crowl became a high-speed radio operator for the U.S. Army Air Force, after receiving technical training when he had showed a special aptitude for a difficult task.

After training, Frank received instruction that his unit would be deployed to Europe. However, as he prepared to board ship, he discovered he had made an innocent mistake. Soldiers who wore eyeglasses (as Frank did) were required to bring two pairs of military-issue glasses—one for wearing, the other for backup; both had to have metal frames. Frank, unaware of the latter requirement, had brought along plastic-framed eyeglasses as his backup pair. When his commanding officer discovered the error, he would not permit Frank to board.

Denial to the European warfront was a major turning point in young Frank’s life: his unit, which set off without him, almost immediately lost nearly half its troops fighting in Italy.

Frank Crowl was stationed with a group of eight other soldiers on the tropical island of Tobago (a small island adjacent to the larger island of Trinidad) for the duration of the war. There he coordinated plane landings and relayed radio communications to destinations across the world.

His stories filled Mr. Pack’s childhood and, in a family that loved storytelling, new ones are sometimes told to this day. (His uncle still tells these stories, seeming to add new details each time.)

When the war ended, Frank returned home and enrolled at Indiana University, from which he earned an accounting degree. He later gained a wealth of experience working for the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, the typewriter manufacturer Remington Rand, and the large retailer Montgomery Ward as an auditor.

Frank spent several years with each company, and then went to work for the prestigious Encyclopaedia Britannica Company in 1957—a corporation he quickly came to love. There his business skills and abilities did not go unnoticed. He was soon promoted to National Sales Administrator—then Director of Sales Administration the following year—and then Vice President of Sales Operations one year later, a promotion that allowed him to pass his business insight to others, aiding thousands of Britannica sales representatives.

His next position, as Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales, made Frank Crowl the highest-level executive in Encyclopaedia Britannica under the President. Over the course of his tenure in this position, the company went from $200 million in annual sales to over $900 million. Corporate presidents came and went, but it was generally understood that Mr. Crowl was the “authority” on how to run the company. His “frankness” kept him from being the President, but again he was President of World Book for a period.

Given that Uncle Frank worked for a company that valued education and the written word, he believed in the same principles as Jane regarding learning and rearing children. This included the importance of providing them with a proper education from a young age.

Uncle Frank often gathered the children around the dining room table for a “contest.” With a pile of dimes in hand, he quizzed the children on geography, history and the contents of books they had recently read. This was his fun way of teaching them the importance of accumulating knowledge on a variety of topics.

Mr. Pack remembered a specific occasion when he was about nine years old. His Uncle Frank had asked, “Children, what explorer discovered the Pacific Ocean—?”

Before his uncle could complete the question, Dave blurted out, “Balboa!”

His uncle was amazed. “Wow, Dave!” he said. “That was fast!”

Bursting with pride, Dave happily accepted the dime his uncle slid to him across the table. At the time, it did not occur to a young boy that Uncle Frank always managed to equally distribute the dimes between all three children so that an almost-three-years-younger brother could enjoy the game.

These kinds of games and the influences of his parents and relatives further developed Dave into an avid reader. He continued to crave knowledge while progressing from grade school to high school. Though he grew up enjoying fiction, he later developed a voracious appetite for reading factual stories, particularly biographies of great leaders of the past, real life accounts from which he gleans valuable life lessons.

An Erector Set!

In the late 1950s erector sets were still popular for boys. They had been around since the 30s. Dave received his first set at about age eight or ten. It was a size “2 1/2.” A neighbor’s parent decided their child should get a larger set.

“This friend usually had things that were ‘biggerer’ or ‘betterer’ than whatever I had. My parents usually did not care, and told me to appreciate what I had. For some reason, this time, my dad took a stand on my behalf. When my friend got a ‘4 1/2,’ my dad got me a ‘5 1/2.’ My friend’s parents continued with an ‘8 1/2’—each bigger size allows a boy to build more kinds of things. My dad had had enough and, because he traveled a lot, was able to scour around for what was reported to be the last ‘12 1/2’ set ever made. My friend’s parents could only get him a ‘10 1/2’ in response, then the biggest size still available.”

Special Trip to Green Bay, WI

One of the most memorable experiences of Mr. Pack’s childhood was, at age 11, when his Grandfather Crowl invited his mother and him on a trip to Green Bay, Wisconsin. The vacation was during the last week of summer in 1961, just before entering the 7th grade. Driving up into Michigan to cross Lake Michigan from the northern part of the state, they arrived in Ludington, Michigan, where they would take a ferry to Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

But before the journey, his grandfather used the opportunity to teach Dave about prevailing winds. This approach to an activity was typical of the teaching style his grandfather and parents used. They often tied experiences to knowledge and learning, using everyday opportunities, no matter the circumstances, to teach their children.

Having brought bathing suits, they went to the beach at Ludington. The water was very warm on the Michigan side, because the wind comes onshore. Next would be to experience the water temperature on the Wisconsin side. After the exciting ferry ride, and watching the sun go down on the lake in front of them, they landed in Manitowoc.

The next morning, they went for another swim. It came as a surprise that the water was unbearably cold, so much that there were almost no swimmers and Dave could not stand it. Yet, it was the same time of year, it was still warm, it was the same weather pattern—and the same lake. His grandfather explained that wind blowing offshore in Wisconsin lowered the water temperature, while Michigan did the opposite.

Later in the trip, his “Uncle Dick” (older brother to his mother) took his nephew to see the famous Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers professional football team. Uncle Dick, who would later run the scoreboard at the stadium for 10 years, gave him an inside look at the team. They attended a team practice, and met several future Hall of Fame players. Lastly, they went to a preseason game against the New York Giants.

Although his parents often vacationed in Wisconsin, this one was a very special trip. They went home via train and stopped in Chicago to visit Uncle Frank, who was by then working for Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Mr. Pack learned many years later, in the 1980s, that his father’s first cousin, John Whinnery, born to his Grandfather Pack’s older sister, had been the starting fullback for the Green Bay Packers for one year before a knee injury ended his career. He went on to become head coach of a Texas university football team. This came through long, fascinating genealogical research Mr. Pack began in the late 1970s. This research culminated in his father meeting every one of his living first cousins, none of whom he had previously met.

Many Pets—All Kinds

Another aspect of Mr. Pack’s childhood were the many pets his family always owned—fish, hamsters, birds, many dogs and cats, including two Persians named Scotch and Soda by his parents because one was light-colored and the other was dark. He remembers being shattered when at around age 10 or 11, on separate occasions, each of the cats was found poisoned. Someone in the neighborhood had killed them and literally stretched them across the side doorstep of the house so the children would find them the next morning when leaving for school. For the young boy learning about death, this was a shocking experience.

His family also had a beloved blue parakeet appropriately named “Bluey” by the children. The memory of coming home from school and seeing a covering over the birdcage that hung in the dining room is still vivid. Mrs. Pack broke the news to her three children that Bluey had died. Solemn trips by each child to lift the covering followed.

On another occasion, Debbie put one of her hamsters in a filled bathtub to “see how long it could swim.” When the phone rang, she took the call and forgot the pet, and learned that hamsters can neither swim nor tread water very long—it drowned.

Another of her hamsters was shivering from the chill of having been outside. Putting the cold hamster in a warm oven seemed the natural solution. How better to warm it up?—until the family smelled baked hamster wafting through the house!

The Pack family also had a series of dogs, usually two at once. Sallie, the three-legged collie mentioned earlier, is the first pet of Mr. Pack’s early memory. A Pomeranian was added. Later came a miniature collie, Penny, and a German shepherd named Cappy. He and his brother had always heard their father tell them about his German shepherd, Captain, but called Cappy. (Mr. Pack’s father had especially loved his dog because this was during the time when his own father had left the family. The dog had been a comforting companion to him.) The children naturally wanted their “own Cappy.” At about age 10 or 11, their father surprised them and brought home a puppy—which went on to be beloved by the family.

A large doghouse was necessary for the new dog, and had to be built by the boys, right down to a shingled roof. They used mostly plywood for its construction, and the brothers carefully measured the doghouse, cut a hole for the door and built the bottom. Cappy loved it.

“I remember well the decision to build this doghouse. My brother and I wanted something of ‘quality.’ In truth, we had no idea what we were doing, so at all points of the construction we had to mark, cut and build very slowly. Our father was happy to buy the materials, even though there was some doubt in his mind that it really needed shingles. This was the first time I had built anything, and I remember the sense of pleasure when we were done. I am pretty sure my brother would say the same all these years later.”

Riding His First Horse

Boy or girl, every child looks forward to riding a horse. Dave’s first experience was at age nine. He was small enough that he and a friend had to be helped onto the horse. But this “horse” was no bucking bronco, rather it was a much older animal destined for the glue factory—SOON! Dave got on and, just as the horse took its first steps, immediately fell off the back position behind the saddle. The cinch had broken. The young boy slid right over the south end of the northbound horse—with the saddle—landing on his backside, ending one of the shortest rides in history. Bucking broncos do not throw their riders as fast.

It was 10 years before he would climb on another horse—only to experience an even worse outcome.

These animal stories are just one of the many elements of a diverse childhood.

Overcoming Shyness

As he grew up, Dave was frightened of standing in front of an audience. Of course, most people are. But, partly because of his height and thinness, he had become uncomfortably shy and unsure of himself in this kind of a setting.

During second grade, his bashfulness overcame him. All the children in class were required to sing in front of their peers a song of their choice from the class songbook—a cappella and on their own.

Mortified at the thought, he was so nervous and embarrassed that he picked the shortest song in the book, one he had sung previously with the class: “Hot Cross Buns.” It was only 15 words long, yet it seemed like an eternity to a seven-year-old. Only later, upon being called into the understanding of God’s truth, would he learn that hot cross buns were derived from cakes made to worship the “queen of heaven,” Ashtaroth (Easter).

Despite his acquired shyness, Jane would not allow her son to use this as an excuse for impolite behavior. For example, he often came home from school to a house full of ladies from his mother’s bridge club. Jane Pack hosted such events throughout the summer and winter, often with 30–40 women present, either in the house or the backyard.

She would occasionally require Dave to systematically and very properly introduce himself to the ladies, going from table to table addressing each woman while smiling and making eye contact. And he was not permitted to do this hastily.

“How do you do, Mrs. Jones?” he would say, only shaking hands if the woman extended hers.

The woman would respond, “Very well, thank you. How are you?”

“Very well, thank you,” he would reply. No other response was acceptable. If he failed to answer correctly, or without eye contact and a pleasant smile, Jane would make him repeat his response correctly.

With his mother observing as he made these courteous introductions, Dave learned demonstration of proper etiquette in social situations.

After several such occasions, he learned from his mother that her friends thought he was a “fine young man.” This training in manners and protocol gave the growing teenager a small measure of confidence, which he could build upon in later years.

Chapter Five – Learning Manhood

Another important part of his childhood was his father’s emphasis on maintaining good posture. The tall former military officer regularly told his son, “Dave, if you’re going to be tall, do not be ashamed of it. Be tall. Accept your height. Don’t destroy your entire posture to be shorter by an inch.”

He would add, “Men stand up. Don’t be ashamed. Stand up.”

Whenever he caught either of his sons slouching, Ran would have him fetch a broom, baseball bat or golf club, and make him sit with it behind his back for half an hour.

The discipline worked. After a few times, Dave never wanted to slouch again—and has hated slouching ever since. Today, whether standing, walking or sitting, Mr. Pack automatically keeps himself erect.

Tough Discipline

Telling his son to stand up straight was not the only discipline Ran administered. Often throughout his childhood, when Dave “earned” punishment, he would be told to “head to the dining room.” Each time this happened, he knew he was in big trouble.

Like most parents of previous generations, Ran used corporal punishment, and would usually require his children to “pick their own switch.” They would have to march into the backyard and choose the branch to be used.

“Imagine the dilemma in a child’s mind: ‘If I choose a switch too small, Dad will go out and find one much bigger. But if I bring him one larger than he requires, my punishment would hurt more, and it would be my fault!’

“By today’s standards, most would probably view this as harsh. This is because we live in a world in which parents either over discipline—abuse—their children or under discipline them, allowing the children to rule the home. Few understand or employ the proper, and crucial, balance of sometimes tough, yet always loving, correction, so essential for all children to develop into successful human beings. My father and mother had a balance on these things.

“My father would invariably tell me he was spanking me because he loved me. I do not think he ever neglected this introduction. Later I always did the same with my children.”

Both Pack parents realized the value of proper punishment. Raised in less than desirable circumstances, Ran learned strict discipline from his years in the army, and was determined to instill a firm sense of obedience and mental toughness in his children.

Not Backing Down

Many times Dave and Bill heard their father recount a childhood story that vividly demonstrated how this initial toughness was ingrained in him from a young age. Mr. Pack remembers it well:

“When my father was 12 years old, after an adolescent dispute, he stepped off the school bus only to be spat on by an older and bigger classmate. Instead of responding to the insult, he slowly walked toward his front steps, head down.

“His father, my grandfather, was sitting on the front stoop and witnessed the exchange. Watching his son wipe the spit off himself as he walked up the steps toward their house, my grandfather told him, ‘That boy spit on you and you allowed it. You’re no son of mine. You’re not welcome in this house.’

“My Dad understood that his father was not kidding. Without hesitation, he spun and sprinted toward the larger boy, tackling him to the ground. The ensuing brawl turned into an extended fight, with my Grandpa Pack looking on. When Dad finally walked back to the house, nose bloodied, his father let him enter the house. My Dad lost the fight, but was willing to pay this price because it was far more important in his mind to gain his father’s respect.”

Such was Ran Pack’s upbringing. He would later tell his son, “Dave, I had better never hear that you looked for, or picked, a fight—but I had also better never hear you backed down from one either if you were insulted!”

One day, five-year-old Dave did find himself in a similar situation when he and a six-year-old neighbor boy got into a minor disagreement. The boy knocked him down and Dave came home crying. In response, his father, having seen what happened, told him, “Son, you don’t allow him to do that. He knocked you down. Go defend yourself.”

Motivated, the boy ran back to the neighbor boy and tackled him the same way his father did years earlier.

Although this method was not the ideal way to resolve conflict, in retrospect, the motivation behind his father’s instructions were appreciated. He simply wanted his son to be strong and to learn not to back down from challenges or obstacles.

(It is important to note that Mr. Pack’s parents were not baptized into God’s Church and way of life until early 1971. While his father often explained how he regretted some of the lessons he had been taught and passed on to his children before he had been called into the truth, he did recognize that the general principles he taught had helped build certain positive things into his son’s thinking. Mr. Pack not only agrees, but still sees reasons in how God was actually bringing him important training that would be valuable for the task he would have to complete in this age. Extreme toughness would be vital.)

“White Glove” Inspections

Training and discipline did not merely come in the form of spankings and in teaching his son to defend himself. There was also the responsibility of cleaning the kitchen, which from an early age always fell to the Pack children. Ran’s standing instructions were, “Since your mother cooks dinner for us every night, she should not have to clean the kitchen, too.”

“My mother was an absolutely wonderful, even amazing, cook. But the kitchen was always an unbelievable mess after she was done preparing the meal. Staring at piles of dishes and ‘mountains’ of pots and pans, it looked as if someone had rolled a hand grenade into the kitchen every night after our mother had finished preparing the meal.

“The only solution was to dive in ‘eyeballs and elbows.’”

Adding to this nightly chore was the pressure of getting the kitchen spotless once dinner ended. Using a method instilled in him during his army days, Ran periodically inspected the kitchen by (occasionally) putting on a white glove and running his fingers over the areas that were supposed to be “spic and span.” He especially did this when he felt the children did not pay sufficient attention to the task. These “inspections” taught them the value of cleanliness and doing things correctly, down to the tiniest detail. It also taught certain lessons about being efficient when cleaning a large, really messy area.

“When the Going Gets Tough…”

By now it should be obvious that Dave’s father had emphasized being strong in life. There were several phrases he said to his sons as they grew up, things they heard time and again that defined how their father wanted them to view difficult challenges, adversity and other harsh realities of life they would face.

Ran Pack used occasions to slowly and deliberately repeat, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!”

Another saying he repeated was, “If you’re going to walk among lions, you must BE a lion!” He usually demonstrated this with a powerful fist gesture to drive home the point.

Using the same gesture, he often stated, “Son, you’ve got to know when to have the guts of a burglar.” (Mr. Pack has said that his father was one of the most scrupulously honest men he ever knew, and that he loathed thieves and liars, so this saying had only to do with “intestinal fortitude,” certainly not stealing.)

“My father was one of the mentally strongest people I have ever known. I am still learning from his example today. He may have been a little tough on me at times, but it was always for my own good. Besides, I have often found that the best way that children can view parents whom they see as having been a little harsh was to try to take the parents’ perspective in the sense of what they were seeing in their child—in this case, in me. My parents get all benefit of the doubt in this regard.”

The need to deal with life’s inequities and unfairness was important to Ran—so important, he would occasionally tell his children that he was not trying to be fair with them! He would actually state that he was not interested in being fair, because “Life is not fair and you have to get used to this.” Hence his necessary emphasis on always being stronger, on never quitting (something else Ran Pack despised, having learned this in childhood), no matter how difficult it would be to go on in a matter or an undertaking.

Sense of Humor

But there was another very different, and contrasting, side to Mr. Pack’s father. No description of Ran Pack’s influence on his children would be complete without mentioning his truly extraordinary sense of humor.

This sense of humor was connected to his ability to put on a poker face, his natural salesmanship, and that he was somewhat of an entertainer, having been involved in, and having won, solo dance contests onstage from as early as age 10. He also used to talk of the greatest public speakers as having to be at least “part frustrated actor,” because acting was part of selling good ideas. His father could also sing and give impersonations, as well as relate funny stories he would hear as a salesman.

“My father was simply the funniest man I ever knew. It is hardly a stretch to say that I spent my entire childhood laughing because of his unique ability to act, like an actor would, during moments of humor. I can actually start laughing again today at just the thought of some of the things he did.”

Learning the Hard Way

In addition to learning childhood lessons through parental discipline, at times Dave learned lessons on his own—the hard way—due to his penchant for minor mischief.

On a summer evening when he was around 10 years old, Dave was riding home on his bicycle at twilight after returning from a day at the swimming pool. He decided to stop near one of the more rural areas in Lima. He came to a point in the road where a local farmer let his milk cows cross from one pasture to another. For entertainment, Dave had the “smart idea” of chasing the cows with his bike, which can excite them and make them lose their milk. Nevertheless, it seemed like harmless fun for a young boy.

With the farmer watching what happened from a distance, Dave began to scare the cows, and as they ran—toward him—he saw headlights approaching. A car! Dave, fearing the people inside would recognize him and tell his parents about his prank, jumped off his bike and tried to hide. Almost dark, he landed in a ditch full of dense “weeds”—except that these weeds turned out to be poison ivy, and in the fast-growing, early summer sappy stage! Even worse, he was only wearing a swimsuit! He wound up covered with itchy bumps, literally from the top of his head to his feet. For almost two weeks, each excruciating scratch reminded him to never chase cows again!

More Learning the Hard Way

The Pack family had a rule in their home that the children were not to miss the light switch and get dirty fingerprints all over the area around the switch. At a certain point, Ran warned his sons that they would have to paint the foyer of the home if he caught them missing the switch “one more time.”

“One of the most difficult lessons of my life was learned when my father saw me missing the foyer light switch upon racing into the house and bounding up the stairs. He immediately called me back down the stairs and told me about ‘all of the painting I was now going to do.’

“As the pictures will show, I grew up in a large home, and it had the biggest foyer and spiral staircase ever built in 6,000 years—from the time of Adam and Eve going forward to the present (of course, so it seemed). The tall window in the photo gives but a tiny glimpse of how much work I had to do. There was moving ladders around with my father as I did all of the painting up the stairs, down the hallway, around all the doors, as well as the big window in the front of the house—only to start over because two coats of paint were necessary.

“This was a lesson I never forgot. To this day, I am ‘religious’ about light switches. When I enter a room, even in the dark, I will only lightly brush the wall with the back of my hand feeling for the switch, and only then if I know almost exactly where it is in my mind.

“Sadly, few parents any longer have the ‘guts’ to enforce upon their children such lessons.”

Still More Learning the Hard Way

There was to be another painful experience painting, but this was from an incident of another kind.

“My father had a saying when it came to painting—‘I sell it, you apply it.’ At a certain point, he was willing to let me work high on a ladder outside painting (or cleaning leaves from the gutters), as long as he was there when we moved the ladder together.

“On one occasion, when no one was home but my father, who was inside taking a nap, I learned that coat hangers were not as strong as they looked. I was on a ladder at the particularly high peak of our screened-in porch off the side of the house. I had a new bucket of white paint hanging from a coat hanger, which was hanging on a rung of the ladder. As I painted higher and higher, lifting the bucket one or two rungs at a time until I reached the top, I repeatedly spun it to give myself a better angle to put the brush in the paint. Suddenly, the stressed out hanger snapped—and I watched with horror as the bucket seemed to very slowly fall aaaaaaallllll theeeeeee waaaaaaay until it hit the ground and ‘blew up!’

“The beautiful furniture inside the porch was flecked with thousands of dots of white paint that had exploded through the screen. The dirt turned white, two bushes turned white, the grass turned white, and later died—and I turned dogwood white without the help of paint. Walking in to awaken my father to show him what I had ‘wrought’ was, shall we say, ‘exciting.’ He was more understanding than I thought he would be, or than he should have been.

“I remember this as a great childhood story—with a lesson. But coat hangers would never look the same.”

Meeting “Grandpa Pack”

Mr. Pack viewed his boyhood years as a wonderful childhood in nearly every way. However, one gap in his family life was the absence of his paternal grandfather.

The story goes back decades earlier: Already mentioned, without notice and without saying goodbye to his sons, William Pack walked out on his wife and children in the summer of 1935, while the 15- and 17-year-old boys were away at summer camp. The next time Ran saw his father again was in 1956—21 1/2 years later!

However, Ran sought to rise above any negative feelings he felt toward his father, and never spoke openly to his children about any animosity he held from having an “absentee father.” In fact, even though he had not seen his father for more than 16 years, Ran in 1951 named his youngest son, William Randall, after him.

Prior to a family vacation in December 1956 in Fort Myers, Florida, the family stopped in Miami, where William had moved. There Ran saw his father for the first time since 1935. He had every reason to shun the man who walked out on him as a young boy, yet Ran took him out to dinner and even bought him a new suit. He also permitted the older man to take his then five-, eight- and nine-year-old children to the Orange Bowl football game. It was the only time Dave met his Grandfather Pack.

(The encounter was also the last time Ran saw his father, who died just six years later in Miami. He had his father’s body brought to Lima for burial. He also kept his father’s 48-star World War I American veteran’s flag, which now sits encased on Mr. Pack’s mantel beside Ran Pack’s encased 50-star flag.)

“The memory of my grandfather from this only occasion that I met him was that he looked exactly like my father, except was shorter and older. And his talking was sort of an inaudible rasp because surgeons had accidentally removed his voice box during cancer surgery, due to his smoking. And I remember well sitting with him in the Orange Bowl with a hotdog that he bought me.

“I probably remember him more for the array of successful people in his family all around him and for those he descended from—the French Marquis de Laforge and Jonathan Edwards, the famous 1700s preacher from whom my father got his middle name—than for anything else.”

In reality, the man Dave recognized as his grandfather while growing up was his paternal grandmother’s second husband, Robert “Bobby” Moscrip. He owned a hardware store in Lima with his brother and his brother’s wife, who young Dave called “Uncle John” and “Aunt Ev.”

The couple had two sons older than Dave who were thought of as cousins. (One, Jack, became a captain in the army and served in Vietnam. The other, who attended the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Bill, taught a very nervous third-grade Dave to dance in preparation for his first formal dance.)

Speaking fondly of his grandfather-through-marriage, Mr. Pack recalled this:

“I remember Bobby as being one of the kindest, nicest human beings I ever knew. He more than filled the void left by my biological grandfather’s absence, and a biography of my life could easily carry many anecdotes about him.”

Going to Church and Family Traditions

Along with desiring their children to learn the importance of making decisions, the Pack parents also wanted to instill in them the necessity of hard work, and to rear them with a certain religious upbringing.

During his middle teenage years, Dave had a daily newspaper route. Though it was sometimes difficult for Dave to drag himself out of bed to deliver papers, Ran wanted his sons to make a few extra dollars, understand the value of having a job, and gain the experience of earning and saving the money needed to buy the things they wanted.

Every Sunday morning, Dave (and Bill) awoke at sunrise to deliver newspapers around the neighborhood. Once finished, he would climb back into bed, hoping his father would sleep in and thereby get up too late to take the boys to church. However, they usually heard his voice from the bottom of the stairs, telling them to get ready for services.

Still dressed in his housecoat and pajamas, Ran would drive his children to the Market Street Presbyterian Church, where they attended Sunday school. Their father would return home, and then come back to pick up the boys after the regular church service had ended.

Ran was reared in the Christian Science religion, while Jane’s family was Presbyterian. Both parents decided to sporadically attend a Presbyterian church, since it was conveniently close to their home.

The Packs held the common belief that their religious denomination did not factor into how they would raise their children. Their thinking was that as long as they learned about God and were “churched” in some way, it did not matter when or where they attended.

Ran frequently told his sons about his childhood adventures of skipping church in Indianapolis. After his mother dropped him and his brother at Sunday school, the boys often went to see a movie or play sandlot football with neighborhood children. The Pack boys made certain to contrive a Sunday message for their mother so they could survive her “sermon quizzes” after returning home.

Hearing these stories made Dave realize his father was wise to all the tricks of skipping Sunday school. Fearing punishment, he and his siblings attended diligently, though often grudgingly.

Jane and Ran had good intentions in wanting their children to grow up regularly with church involvement. However, their own record of attendance and listening to sermons represented hypocrisy. Even at an early age, this stood out in a child’s mind.

Father and mother expected their children to meet certain moral standards, though they themselves were not especially religious. Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday were among the only times Ran and Jane attended church together. Dave’s father often “said grace” at special meals, but neither parent prayed regularly, nor did they have a family Bible to display in the house, as many families did back then.

“It was a curious thing in our household. My mother was barely religious, but my father was very ‘religious’—even though this did not translate to attending church with us, or anywhere else.”

Regardless of their religious affiliation, one of Ran and Jane’s favorite annual traditions was singing Christmas carols around the neighborhood. Christmas was a big event in the Pack household. They were the only family in the neighborhood who went caroling, walking the streets and singing songs such as “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!”

While embarrassed to be seen singing by friends whose parents would open the door to listen, the Pack children at least benefited by having a certain amount of shyness reduced.

Ironically, Sunday church attendance, celebrating Christmas and caroling had nothing to do with obeying God. As with most professing Christians, these were simply traditions that held no real meaning beyond the physical act.

In the end, however, the Pack parents were sincere in what they thought was best for their children in regard to religion. That was never in doubt in Dave’s mind.

Grandfather Crowl’s Death

On October 29, 1963, just before Dave turned 15, his Grandfather Crowl died in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“This was really the first time I had truly lost a grandparent, and felt a sense of loss. My Grandfather Pack had died the year before, but again, I had only seen him once when very young.

“My Grandfather Crowl was larger than life in our family. He had told me endless stories growing up, and had played and joked with me as a child. There were trips to Gatlinburg, Tennessee—I found a knife not long ago that he bought me there when I was nine. His death, occurring just 24 days before John F. Kennedy was assassinated, forever seared the memory of his loss into my mind. His son-in-law, my father, would die 32 years to the day after his father-in-law.

“I still wear my Grandfather Crowl’s mother’s wedding band, now as my own. Inside is inscribed a message ‘From Grandpa (my third great grandfather) to Tillie (my first great grandmother) 1887.’”

Biggest Sunday Tradition

There was a “family tradition” that held more meaning for the Packs than any religious tradition, by far—and it took place after church services, in the afternoon. For 10 consecutive years until he left for college, Dave joined his father and brother in watching the Cleveland Browns play football on television every Sunday in the fall.

Dave watched one of his first Browns games “live” at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium on December 12, 1960. He saw his favorite player, Browns running back Jim Brown, when Cleveland beat the Chicago Bears 42-0. For several years Ran took one or both sons to a live game, an almost three-hour drive from Lima to Cleveland. When watching the team on television, Ran and the boys played catch football in the front yard during halftime—every Sunday!

The Pack family took the games so seriously that a cloud of sorrow hung over the household for the rest of the day when the Browns lost. During this 10-year period, the father and sons missed only two games—one because a parents’ party required the children to go to the movies, the other because Dave would go skeet shooting for the first and only time in his life.

Learning to Drive

As with most boys approaching their later teenage years, one of the milestones in Dave’s young life was getting his driver’s license. Within days of turning 16, he obtained his learner’s permit. That same day he drove home with his mother in her four-speed Volkswagen Beetle. He familiarized himself with operating the clutch and gas pedal, but did not yet have complete control of the brakes.

Driving through the neighborhood, Dave prepared to turn onto the street of their home. But with only 20 minutes of driving experience, he was unaware that a 90-degree turn in a car involves controlling the steering wheel and the brakes! He attempted to shift gears, turning at 35 mph, but neglected to hit the brakes. The car hit a patch of gravel on the road. As his mother froze in anticipation, the car spun sideways and slid toward a mailbox on the front lawn of a house on the corner. The car skidded to a halt in front of the house, with the mailbox literally jutting into the open passenger window—six inches from his mother’s face! And this was where the superintendent of all Lima schools lived.

Despite this traumatic first driving experience, a few days of practicing gave enough confidence to once again conquer the road—this time with his father in the passenger seat. Naturally, the 16-year-old was nervous, yet he wanted to impress his father, so he drove cautiously, especially as they approached an intersection. He slowed down perfectly and came to a complete stop—but the traffic light was green! As soon as the light turned RED, he accelerated smoothly through the intersection.

His father said nothing for several seconds. Then he calmly turned and said, “Next time, Dave, why don’t we go ahead on through when the light is green, and stop when it’s red.”

“He knew I was semi-terrified, so he recognized there was no sense in making it worse. The only remaining question was whether the light or my face was redder.”

Wrecking Motorbikes

After having his license for several months, Dave became accustomed to driving and determined that his daily paper route would be easier with a motorbike. The two-wheeled “vehicle” would be inexpensive, he reasoned, and give him a certain measure of independence, since the likelihood of his parents buying a car for any of their children was out of the question.

Before making the purchase, he consulted with his father, who warned, “Remember, if you buy a motorcycle, it’s very dangerous and you must be responsible.”

Still, his father gave permission. But instead of a motorcycle, Dave bought a used (and not as powerful) moped that had seen too many years. However, he could not get it to run correctly, due to a scored piston. Wanting to learn more about it, Dave completely took apart the engine, laying all the pieces across the basement floor of an entire room. When finished, it occurred to him he had not the faintest idea of how to put it back together!

Quickly thinking like a “captain of industry,” Dave was determined to “snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.” He advertised the moped and sold it to a man for five dollars; the new owner had to carry the engine away in a box.

Next, the teenager purchased a slightly bigger, more powerful motorbike. Driving it one day while delivering papers, he signaled to turn left around a boulevard, but an impatient motorist in a Cadillac (a very big car back then) cut around him on the left. Dave suddenly heard the screech of brakes behind him, and turned just in time to see the front bumper of the car slam into his rear wheel. The next moment, the car launched him and the motorbike 40 feet in the air into the front yard of an adjacent house—where a huge, solitary bush miraculously cushioned his fall!

Although he escaped serious injury, he still carries a small scar on his left knee, the result of the tailpipe of his mangled motorbike scorching him in the accident. The vehicle had only seen 147 miles of service (the number visible on the shattered speedometer) before it was “totaled.” A second motorbike was now ready for a box.

Undeterred, the other driver’s insurance bought an identical replacement. However, that same summer, as he hurried to get to work as a lifeguard at the country club pool, he experienced another motorbike accident.

In the 1960s, many secondary roads were made of tar, as opposed to today’s roads, usually paved in concrete or asphalt. Country roads had a slightly bigger crown to them, allowing water to drain more efficiently. While driving too fast in the rain, Dave’s bike suddenly “laid down” on the country road. The inexperienced driver swung his leg up and rode the side of the bike until it skidded to a stop.

Once again, he escaped serious injury, but the accident marked the end of his motorcycle days. His father quietly told his son he had had his last chance. Another small scar on his left elbow is a permanent reminder this was best.

Walks and Talks with His Father

Even though his childhood was filled with a myriad of exciting experiences, some of Mr. Pack’s fondest memories were of times he spent with his father, listening and learning from him.

Starting at age six, he accompanied Ran on regular walks together. Since his mother and siblings did not enjoy such walks, he and his father often headed out with their German shepherd, “Cappy.” Dave enjoyed sharing countless hours with his father, absorbing information and listening to nonstop stories of life lessons Ran Pack had learned. (They continued this practice for 40 years, literally into the very final days of his father’s life.)

These walks often lasted five to 10 miles, and occasionally this was done in deep snow down long country roads. He can remember often walking a road that was two miles to its end, before returning. Then there was the half mile just to reach the road, and another to return, plus wherever else they walked in addition. Mr. Pack talked with his father “man-to-man” for hours about almost everything.

Ran often asked, “Davey, what’s on your mind? Do you have anything you want to ask me? Ole’ Dad will do his best to answer anything.” He consciously did not want his son to feel the tremendous void that he himself had experienced as a virtually fatherless teenager. Ran took every opportunity to provide guidance and teach his son as a mentor and a friend.

The time they spent together was among Mr. Pack’s happiest early moments, and greatly influenced him later in life. He knew he could always talk to his dad—and he did. Taking routine “walks and talks” became a tradition that continued with his own family.

These benchmark experiences characterized Mr. Pack’s childhood: a focus on sports, another on books, playing in the neighborhood with friends, and maintaining a close family bond.

Chapter Six – Turning Point—Summer of 1966

Since young Dave spent much of his childhood with friends at the country club pool and the adjacent golf course, he joined the Shawnee Swim Team for children ages six to 17, as he entered grade school.

He first did this merely because his friends were on the team, not because of his swimming ability. He enjoyed the sport, despite seldom experiencing success early on. Eventually, though, after six years of competitive swimming, Dave officially won his first race in fifth grade. It would not last.

In addition to his fondness for swimming, however, he also dreamed of playing football as his father had.

Difficult Decision

At age 10, Dave played wide receiver in Lima’s midget football league. At the end of the season, the coach told Ran Pack that he wanted Dave, because of his size, to play halfback on the sixth grade team the following year. The fifth-grader was excited; this was the same position his father had played in college! He would be “carrying the ball” from the backfield, a desirable position.

The exciting news led to a pivotal conversation between himself and his father.

“Son,” Ran said, “you can’t play midget football and continue on the swim team. You must choose between the two. I don’t care if you choose swimming over football. Decide what you really want! Don’t pick football just because I played it. You think about what you enjoy and decide what you really want to do.”

While Ran allowed his son to play various sports with neighborhood friends, he wanted Dave to dedicate himself to excelling in just one. He also felt that playing on multiple teams would divert time from the boy’s studies and other activities.

Deciding between his two favorite sports was tough, and even brought the young boy to tears. Since he had just won his first swimming race and had been on the team for five years, he decided to dedicate himself solely to swimming. Little could he know that the seemingly small decision would have such a long-term effect on his life.

During the summer breaks of sixth, seventh and eighth grade, Dave continued to compete on the Shawnee Country Club swim team outdoors. In the winter months, he swam on the Lima YMCA team indoors. Still, he struggled to find success. By the time he was in the eighth grade, he was only the fifth-fastest swimmer just on his own team, and of course was not winning races anywhere else either.

Discouraged, he went to his father and wondered for the first time in nine years of competitive swimming if he should quit. His father encouraged his son to continue, reminding him to not worry: “The meat will soon catch up with the bones. I promise.”

The teenager determined to dedicate himself to becoming the best swimmer he could.

Just one year later, near the end of ninth grade, Dave’s height shot to 6’3” and his weight began to fill out. It was a turning point. He now started to take his swimming career much more seriously. This same year, the now less gangly swimmer suddenly vaulted to becoming the second-fastest 15-year-old in the state, swimming in the YMCA Championships’ 50-yard freestyle, with a time of 24.3 seconds.

In this speed event, competitors would dive into a 25-yard pool, swim to the other end, sometimes without a single breath, execute a flip-turn and race in an all-out sprint to the finish. This was Dave’s strongest event.

However, because of his size, he executed his turn poorly, missing the wall in the difficult shadows of the Ohio State University natatorium in Columbus. This mistake haunted him, leaving him to wonder, If I had nailed my turn, would I have won the state (YMCA) championship?

Swimming at the Next Level

In a short amount of time, Dave’s speed increased and his times dropped. He realized that he was becoming fast—really fast!

By his sophomore year, the teenager qualified for the state championship, and swam 22.8 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle. This was a high school competition, meaning the sophomore was competing against juniors and seniors.

Despite not winning, his times were still fast enough to receive “All-American” honors at the end of his sophomore year in 1965. He was only 16.

In just two years, he had gone from the fifth-fastest on his team to one of the fastest high school swimmers in the United States. He had now “arrived!” In his young mind, and certainly in the small city of Lima, this changed his life.

These swimming achievements slowly drew national attention—and with it, a seed of ambition was planted in his mind. From that moment forward, he devoted himself with single-mindedness to his swimming career. He wanted to become the fastest swimmer in the state and rise in All-American status, goals that helped him to push himself even more.

Grueling Routine

The ambitious teenager developed for himself a rigorous training routine as a junior.

Dave woke up every day at 5:15 a.m., and drove himself to the practice facility at the YMCA in downtown Lima while it was still dark. There he met the janitor at 6:00 a.m., when the building was empty and dark. No one was permitted to use the pool before hours, but the YMCA management and the school faculty made an exception for the aspiring swimmer.

Morning workouts began with tying a rubber strap (from an old inner tube) in a figure eight around his ankles. Restrained from kicking, he then swam 66 laps, the equivalent of 1,650 yards—or over 16 football fields! He did this day after day with his legs immobilized, pulling himself through the water as he relied only on upper body strength.

Next, teenaged Dave propelled himself through the water with a kick-board for an additional 40 laps (1,000 yards), using his legs only.

Imagine: Before some of his friends and classmates were out of bed, he had already swam more than the distance of 26 football fields and logged almost two hours in the pool! Only after this daily workout did he head to class.

This rigorous training schedule was practiced most mornings. In part, his routine raised his profile locally, as word quickly spread of how “dedicated” Dave Pack was to his swimming career.

After school, he practiced for another two hours with the rest of the high school swim team. A typical practice included a 200- to 400-yard warm-up, followed by routines such as fifty 50-yard “repeats” (races) with only a five-second break in between each, or thirty 75-yard repeats with 10-second breaks. There would be other elements of the practice, which would end with a several-hundred-yard “cool down,” or “swim down,” as it was called.

All of the hours spent practicing in the pool occurred without any protection for his eyes, since these were in the days before most swimmers wore goggles. Consequently, he spent years with blurred vision from the typical light-induced “halos,” which were a result of heavily chlorinated water and salt that accumulated in the pool from the swim team sweating in the water.

After practice, Dave would return home for the evening. Once his parents excused him from dinner and he had completed his schoolwork, he followed with yet another grueling regimen on an “Exer-Genie,” which could be used to simulate swimming. Usually attached to a doorway, it mimicked the swimming motion of the upper body, maximizing muscle strength, endurance and flexibility. The innovative machine was invented in 1964 as a training tool for astronauts. Three NASA Apollo missions had used it to maintain muscle tone in weightless conditions. The scientific principle behind the device was to tire the muscles by permitting no time for relaxation. Setting the machine for maximum resistance, this was the most strenuous workout of the day. His brother often joined him in this.

Misery loves company.

Mr. Pack estimated that he swam approximately 1,500 miles during each of the last two years of high school. He also estimated that, from ages five through 19, he swam at least 7,000 miles in his career—the equivalent of swimming from New York City to the French coast, back to New York, and halfway back to France again.

“Looking back, I knew that, in the sense that athletes use the term, I had become addicted to pain. Many athletes who compete at the highest levels recognize that the only way to become the best is to push through mental barriers and physical limitations that other athletes are unwilling or unable to push through.

“I would later realize this was an unbalanced approach. Because I did not understand God’s Way, I was driven to accomplishment in physical pursuits. The only path to achievement and success I could see at that age was through a career in swimming. I had no idea this thinking was about to change almost overnight.”

By the close of his junior year, Dave lowered his times even further, clocking in at 22.3 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle. Just as his father had promised, the meat had—finally!—caught up with the bones. The ambitious teen could hardly wait for another chance to compete for a state championship.

However, circumstances did not work out in his favor: just days before the state meet, Dave developed a serious case of the flu, eliminating his chance to compete at anywhere near his best.

Disappointed but undeterred, he pushed forward with renewed resolve. The harder he pushed himself, the better his times became. Dave was determined to win the state championship in his senior year.

Training on the Shores of Lake Erie

In early June 1966, the aspiring athlete was invited to join the Coca-Cola sponsored Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Lake Erie Silver Dolphins Swim Team. There he trained for the first time in a 55-yard pool (almost Olympic-sized), in Lakewood, Ohio, just west of downtown Cleveland.

Dave realized that, in order to rise to the next level, during the summer he needed to train with a larger organized team instead of with his country club team. Swimming with the Dolphins pushed him a step closer to greater achievement.

The young swimmer rented a room in the Lakewood home of an elderly woman. Nearby, he worked as a lifeguard and swimming instructor at the exclusive Cleveland Yachting Club.

“This part of my summer ‘excursion’ was a very interesting and maturing experience. People sunning themselves around the pool were literally the ‘who’s who’ of Cleveland. One morning, another instructor gave me the ‘Campbell children’ to teach, explaining that these were of the Campbell Soup family.”

Dave trained and competed with the Dolphins every day, beginning at 6:00 in the morning, in a pool in Heritage Park. From the 57-degree temperature pool, outdoors, he could see Lake Erie 100 yards away, from which chilly breezes blew early in the morning, in days that were at first in the still late spring. It was cold! At this pool he tied the then national age-group record for 15- to 17-year-old boys in the longer 55-yard freestyle category, with a time of 25.9 seconds.

Tumultuous Late 60s—Questioning Everything

In general, growing up in the Midwest in the 1950s and 60s was idyllic. The end of World War II ushered in an almost immediate sense of prosperity. Life was in a sense wholesome and simple; most children could reach adulthood retaining a greater degree of innocence, compared to our modern age.

However, the 50s also saw the dawn of the atomic age and the Cold War. Humanity faced new concerns. Schoolchildren routinely went through civil defense drills to prepare for the growing Soviet threat. Tensions between the Democratic West and Communist East simmered to a boil—eventually leading to an ideological showdown with the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The world’s problems—the war in Vietnam, race riots, poverty, the violent overthrow of governments, political assassinations, the growing tide of illegal drug use—seemed to be spinning out of control.

Perhaps like few other periods in American history, the late 1960s represented a time of questioning and distrust among youth. The shortcomings and limitations of democracy in the United States were laid bare. Students, realizing government’s inability to solve humanity’s problems, took to the streets by the thousands to protest the war in Southeast Asia and to support the blossoming civil rights movement.

While he did not participate in sit-ins and violent protests, these tumultuous and uncertain times led Dave, as with his peers, to begin only mildly questioning the reason sociopolitical-driven violence erupted throughout America. He wondered how any of mankind’s forms of government could work. Few of the world’s problems directly affected his relatively sheltered life in Lima. Still, as the teenager approached adulthood, the provocative question of how humanity would ultimately solve its problems was not much on his mind. But young Dave Pack was becoming more aware of the world around him.

Meanwhile, as the pressing issues of the day weighed a little more heavily in his thoughts, the swimming champion had already received All-American honors for the second year in a row.

Discovering The World Tomorrow Program

About two weeks after arriving in Lakewood, Dave was sitting in a lifeguard’s chair when he heard a booming voice on the radio that would forever change his life.

Up to this point, the teen did not have any real interest in religion, despite his Presbyterian upbringing. But what he heard from this radio program—The World Tomorrow—was different. Its presenter spoke of the Return of Jesus Christ and the government He would establish—the soon-coming kingdom of God, which would solve all of humanity’s troubles, problems and ills! And Dave learned that he could be a part of this solution.

Although (both) Mr. Armstrong(s) spoke about Jesus, it was a much different Jesus from what the teenager’s obligatory Sunday school and services had taught him.

Over the following weeks, Dave listened diligently to The World Tomorrow on Cleveland’s WIXY 1260 super-radio. He heard Mr. Armstrong proclaim that the returning Jesus Christ would establish a unified, world-ruling supergovernment, and that man’s incredible potential was that he could be born into the kingdom of God!

Dave had certainly heard nothing in his high school civics classes about “one world government!” Yet he did learn that certain secular leaders, including Winston Churchill, Douglas MacArthur and Abraham Lincoln, acknowledged there needed to be a kind of “strong arm from somewhere” that could come and save mankind.

As he listened intently night after night, the Lima teenager came to understand that only a world government could truly put an end to all violence and strife. Mr. Armstrong’s message seemed to speak of the solution leaders so desperately sought after, but never found. They were some of the most capable men democracy had ever seen, but, Why had they not spoken of this coming government of God?

Unlike the boring, empty messages Dave had heard for years in Sunday services, Mr. Armstrong answered basic questions: “Why were you born?”—“What is the true gospel Jesus Christ preached?”—“Does God exist?” Even more intriguing, the elderly spokesman (and his son at the time) explained, with unbelievable clarity, that God was a Family, not a three-in-one “mystery”—that Bible prophecies could be understood—and that they specifically revealed the future of the United States, Britain and other Western nations!

Dave was amazed by the extraordinary knowledge he was learning!

Attempting to Follow Newfound Truth

With each broadcast—which Mr. Armstrong delivered with an unusual commanding authority—spiritual knowledge and understanding were growing, and on a wide variety of topics. For the rest of the summer, Dave absorbed information from The World Tomorrow program while on his lifeguard stand during the day or in his rented room at night.

Each broadcast shattered perceptions about the basic foundations of mainstream Christianity and convinced him that the only way to true happiness was through obeying God’s Law. He learned that Christianity was not just something people practice at Christmas and Easter, or once a week on Sunday. He was hearing the true meaning of life in simple terms. Herbert W. Armstrong taught that every day all people make a choice to either live the way of “give” (outgoing, selfless concern for others) or the way of “get” (selfishness, lust, greed, competition).

To a young mind struggling to grasp purpose in the world, the “give” way of life made perfect sense—in fact, so much sense that by the end of the summer Dave made his first attempt to obey God.

One of the first laws he decided to keep involved the guidelines of clean and unclean meats, as taught in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. However, it would soon become clear he did not yet fully understand exactly how to apply these new truths to his life.

Upon learning the shocking fact that pigs were unfit for human consumption, he informed the elderly woman with whom he was staying that he would never again be able to eat pork. But, he reasoned, he would enjoy one last meal of pork chops.

His landlady, Gladys (who happened to live on Gladys Drive), was a wonderful cook, so the teenager requested she make him pork chops. She prepared and spiced them so perfectly that he ate nine! Dave later recalled, regretfully, that they tasted “unbelievably good,” although the enjoyment was dampened by his conviction that he would never taste them again. That night he ate so much that Gladys called his father to request a larger food allowance for the remainder of the summer. (Yet, just a year or so later, the very smell of ham or porkchops made him sick.)

Returning Home with a New Outlook

The summer on Lake Erie, training with the Silver Dolphins and the Yachting Club job, ended in early August. Though sad to leave, he looked forward to his senior year in Lima and to the future.

He wanted to return home living the new way of life Mr. Armstrong taught him through The World Tomorrow. After having listened to dozens of broadcasts, he was hooked! Dave could not get the powerful messages out of his mind—nor did he want to.

Mr. Armstrong’s words had completely altered the young man’s thinking and dramatically changed his outlook on everything. He could hardly wait to hear more, and planned to request the free literature offered during each broadcast when he returned to Lima.

Yet when the young man arrived home, he was frustrated to learn he could not find the program. For weeks he scanned the radio dial, until finally he heard Mr. Armstrong’s voice again, initially on CKLW (but later out of Cincinnati), a radio station near Detroit, and Windsor, Ontario, Canada. He rushed to tell his father.

“Dad, this is the program I’ve been telling you about!” he said.

“Oh, I know that voice,” his father replied. “I listen to him from time to time.”

His father was already familiar with The World Tomorrow program from his time on the road as a traveling salesman. Ran Pack included it among the rotation of religious programming he had been listening to regularly.

In late August 1966, Dave was pleasantly surprised to receive a package from the Church. It contained seven booklets and articles. He still remembers Why So Many Denominations?Why Were You Born?Does God Exist?The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy—and 1975 in Prophecy! were in the mailing. He also received his first issue of the Church’s flagship magazine, The Plain Truth.

Ecstatic, Dave (and now with his brother) continued to listen to Mr. Armstrong and was deeply intrigued as he explained in plain language the simple—yet universally misunderstood—truths of God.

“I had completely forgotten that while I was still in Lakewood I had written to the Radio Church of God [renamed Worldwide Church of God in 1968] with questions, and requesting literature. I forgot that I had written (the first of many letters) for guidance as I continued to learn the truth. The first letter had been something very brief, similar to, ‘My grandmother is a Christian Scientist and she thinks I should attend the Christian Science Church. What do you think?’ I do recall that my second letter was to ask about UFOs.”

The brothers were pleasantly surprised to have radio logs (listings of when and on what stations the program was broadcast) arrive from Pasadena. To their delight, they discovered The World Tomorrow program also aired in the evenings and was broadcast across the U.S. seven days a week on WLW Cincinnati at 11:05 p.m.

“Easy Sell”

One night after listening to Mr. Armstrong’s son explain the truth about the theory of evolution, Dave and Bill Pack lay in their beds and discussed in the dark what they had heard.

Dave said, “Bill, we didn’t evolve.”

“I think we did,” his brother replied.

“No, Bill,” he said firmly. “God created Adam and Eve.”

After a short pause, Bill said, “Okay…I believe in creation now.”

Bill Pack fondly remembered, 40 years later, that this was the last time he would be such an “easy sell” for his older brother. From about September 1966 forward, both brothers listened and studied together at times.

While most 17-year-olds focused on college plans, high school friends, social events and parties, young David Pack’s thoughts centered on studying the Bible, and at every possible moment. He had learned a valuable, lifelong lesson: Having always heard preachers and ministers of traditional Christianity teach, “All you have to do is give your heart to the Lord,” he learned from Mr. Armstrong that God calls individuals to the truth, as Jesus explained in John 6:44.

“The broadcasts truly stunned me. What I heard was unbelievable. The answers were logical. They made sense. I had never heard anyone talk with that kind of authority. Mr. Armstrong answered life’s greatest and most important questions so clearly. And he was also answering questions I did not even know that I had. He made complex topics simple to understand. I was absolutely on fire and could not get enough of these new truths.”

Requesting Literature—Meticulously Proving

As he continued to hear truths he had never been taught, Dave became much more interested in following God’s Word. He had a burning desire to learn and understand how to apply the Bible’s teachings.

The Church back then had a policy of sending only up to seven items per literature request. However, Dave in his eagerness wanted to read as much literature as he could as quickly as possible. He decided to devise a way to “beat the system.”

During each broadcast, Mr. Armstrong promoted certain booklets and articles; so did each issue of The Plain Truth, as well as did the other literature received. Dave recorded every title and compiled a large list of available publications. He then sent his requests, seven pieces of literature at a time, on the same or next day. He hoped that a different staff member at Pasadena Headquarters would open his requests.

His plan worked! Over the course of several months, he quickly accumulated virtually every booklet and article the Church published, including the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course. (Computers today prohibit anyone from copying this method.)

Determined not to take anything at face value, Dave took the tremendous drive he had developed in competitive swimming and applied it to reading the Church’s literature and completing the correspondence course. When the literature referenced a Bible verse or passage, he looked it up for himself, wanting to thoroughly “prove all things” (I Thessalonians 5:21) from his own Bible, just as Mr. Armstrong repeatedly urged.

The new Bible student used colored pens and magic markers to jot meticulous notes inside the booklets and articles. (He still has much of this literature.) When he had additional questions, or if the literature prompted Bible study ideas, he made notes for future personal study. Additionally, as was required of all enrollees, he wrote all of the scriptures in the Bible Correspondence Course by hand. By actively engaging the literature and doing the included assignments, the basic truths of God were ingrained into the mind.

All that was absorbed through The World Tomorrow program and the Church’s written works made God’s purpose for mankind’s existence abundantly clear in his young mind for the first time. As he learned these monumental, incredible truths, the Bible student realized he could not merely believe another man’s word—he had to prove the truth for himself. Again, too much was at stake. He knew there was no middle ground—no “halting between two opinions” (I Kings 18:21). These truths led the young man to make some of life’s most important decisions.

Juggling schoolwork, swimming practice and maintaining his strenuous workout regimen, while also learning and studying God’s truth, proved to be a challenge. After completing the final workout of the day, Dave would spend hours in his bedroom poring over Church literature before finally going to sleep late at night.

The extensive self-examination process triggered by this new knowledge seemed like a long, arduous trial for the high school senior. Yet it forced him to face decisions that would determine the course of his life: What college or university will I attend? What career or profession will I enter? What kind of person will I become?—everything flowed from proving God’s existence and whether the Holy Bible was His divine Word.

In retrospect, Mr. Pack considered these initial intense months of study one of his greatest blessings—they contributed to, and served to fortify, the depth of his conviction, which would be so crucial in the difficult years ahead.

“I had to prove the truth in a way that most other people were not required to prove it, because I had so much at stake. I had to know completely—absolutely.”

In one trial, observing the Sabbath came in direct conflict with a potentially life-long swimming career, and consequently a prominent future position, in addition to the prominent profile of his parents.

Proving the truth beyond any doubt and committing to God’s Way would force Dave to give up everything for which he had worked so hard for so many years.

Parents Try to Understand

For the most part, Dave’s parents were supportive and willing to accept that he had new beliefs—although they did not expect them to last. As time passed, Ran and Jane found that their son’s dedication was not merely a phase.

One muggy afternoon shortly after returning home from Lakewood, Dave had an interesting exchange with his father. While he was mowing the lawn, he heard his father call from the side door, “Dave, lunch is ready! I have boiled hot dogs ready!”

Armed with his new understanding of the Old Testament’s dietary laws, Dave asked his father what was in the hot dogs, explaining he could no longer eat pork.

After going inside to check the ingredients, Ran Pack emerged from the house with package in hand. “No problem,” he said, going on to explain that the hot dogs were “all meat.”

“Dad,” his son replied, “it has to say all beef on the package.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I understand. Just eat these and in the future we will be sure to get all beef.”

Dave respectfully refused to eat the hot dogs, which angered his father. What the teenager saw as commitment to God’s laws came across as ingratitude to his father.

“To my father especially, it was as if I was making an issue where there was no need to make one. He was trying to be understanding and helpful, and I appeared unnecessarily rigid.”

One of the things that most frustrated his father about his son’s new beliefs was that Ran usually learned of them through confrontation. After he had already boiled the hot dogs for lunch, Ran learned that under no circumstances would his son eat pork. When some time had passed, his father accepted this belief. Then the teenager informed him he could not cut the grass on the Sabbath. After Ran accepted this next belief, Dave unnecessarily went on to tell him he would not be voting—or keeping Christmas—or fighting in the military—along with other newfound convictions—on top of statements such as “And I’m done forever with the Presbyterian Church!”

Obviously, Ran Pack was initially unhappy about his sons’ adherence to this new understanding of God’s Law. Imagine coming home from work to find that the meal your wife exerted time and effort to prepare—deep fried shrimp!—suddenly did not meet your children’s new standards. Or that, because they now understood the Sabbath to be on Saturday, they refused to perform yard work on that day. These were trying times for the family; but to their credit, they handled them with a measure of patience and understanding.

There was never anything close to outright war in the home, but there were certainly moments of contention. Ran and Jane felt as though they were put on edge, waiting to hear what “wild” new belief their son would spring on them next, sometimes Bible and Church literature in hand. The fact his brother stood firm with Dave made it easier; it sometimes softened his parents’ response. Yet, for a time, they at least somewhat reduced their younger son’s commitment to a natural desire to follow an older brother. They would later learn this was wrong.

Starting with the day a son told his father he could no longer eat pork, the Pack household became divided over clean and unclean meats. In a family where the mother loved shrimp and ham, imagine her children suddenly telling her they will no longer eat dinner if it contains these items!

Jane tried to be sensitive to her sons’ new religious beliefs. However, as an accomplished gourmet cook, these newly learned dietary restrictions were, at best, confusing.

“What is this about ‘fins and scales’?” she asked them. “I thought it was only shellfish you couldn’t eat?”—“No catfish? They have fins, don’t they?”—“But you can eat grasshoppers because John the Baptist did? What?”

Another instance of these new convictions colliding with long-established family traditions happened after Dave proved the pagan origins of Christmas. Although he did not yet know about God’s fall Holy Days, he made the decision not to observe Christmas. He used the opportunity to show his parents Jeremiah 10:3-4, and explain to them the error of putting up a Christmas tree.

By this time, Ran and Jane were becoming more accepting of the adjustments their sons had been making to their lives. Since their daughter had already left home, and the boys refused to celebrate the holiday, the parents were more than happy to save a little money that year by skipping Christmas.

Even Dave’s Uncle Frank joked that his annual monetary “Christmas gift” was no longer for Christmas. Rather, it was a gift “that just happened to arrive around the turn of the year.” The first time he sent this “new” gift he called it a “Winter Solstice gift.” He had read about the holiday’s origins from an early edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Frank Crowl had fun with the gift he sent each December, always in some way referencing Christmas’ link to the Saturnalia and its pagan roots—all while reminding the family that what he was sending was not to be taken as a Christmas gift.

“Thumping” the Bible

As he grew in spiritual knowledge, the teen became more and more zealous about his understanding. The Bible was real to him—it came alive when he read it.

As with many people excited about learning God’s truth for the first time, Dave did not yet fully understand that only God opens the minds of people and calls them. True knowledge that seemed so simple and logical to the one called was a mixed-up jigsaw puzzle to others. With his exposure to his mother’s constant logical argument and debate, he approached family and friends ready to explain this new understanding.

On more than one occasion, Dave tried to explain the Bible to his mother, especially portions about prophecy, and attempted to get her to read certain passages.

He also showed her Church literature, which in the early years included graphic illustrations by WCG illustrator Basil Wolverton. Some were vivid drawings of people struggling and suffering during the coming Great Tribulation, prior to Christ’s Return. Other images portrayed people dying from plagues and war, in mortal anguish from famine and pestilence sweeping the earth.

“Mom, this is going to happen!” Dave warned. “These times are coming soon!”

Imagine his mother’s reaction, returning home from the golf course, shopping or from a relaxing afternoon with the Bridge Club ladies, only to find her son desperately begging her to heed dire warnings from a man in California prophesying the end of the world! To Jane Pack, the powerful illustrations and compelling literature were merely effective artwork and stories.

On another occasion, Dave showed his mother the Church-produced article “How Would Jesus Vote for President?” As a staunch conservative Republican, she silently rolled her eyes, as if to say, “Here we go again!”

Exasperated, his mother said, “I suppose you think Jesus would vote Democrat.”

“No mom!” he replied, to her surprise. “Jesus wouldn’t vote at all!” She found this more interesting.

Dave also had a conversation with his mother about John Calvin’s view of predestination and how silly the premise was—from a logical standpoint. But in this case, mother and son agreed.

“I have a hard time believing,” Jane Pack said, “that if I make the decision to consciously run up and down the stairs to the point of inducing a heart attack that this was known and pre-ordained by God in advance. If that is the case, then we are all automatons.” To her delight, they both agreed with this perspective.

Dave even tried to convince a few schoolmates of his newfound knowledge, but they were less than receptive. “My new understanding fell really flat with my friends,” he recounted.

Several times during his senior year, he brought before the classroom an opposing view, an objection or he raised questions regarding his new understanding. One day in biology class, he commented on the faulty logic of evolution. As Dave explained his point of view, it became clear to him that the teacher was in lockstep with the popular belief that creationism was an antiquated way of thinking. This predominant view of the 1960s was the genesis of the U.S. education system’s march toward the secular liberal thinking of today.

“My class was going one way and I was definitely going another. This much I quickly learned.”

He soon recognized he was making no headway with his peers, so he decided to say nothing more. It became evident it was not profitable to evangelize or proselytize. He learned he was not supposed to singlehandedly convert his friends and family. He recalled, jokingly, that he badly mishandled matters with family and friends as he first learned the truths of God.

Decision to Leave Presbyterian Church

Dave from an early age did have a vague belief that God existed—but God had not been real to him. Until he first heard Mr. Armstrong on the radio, the young man had never attempted to build a personal relationship with God or find His true Church, nor did he pray or study Scripture for guidance and doctrinal instruction.

Before he listened to The World Tomorrow radio program in the summer of 1966, the two or three times David Pack read the Bible, he never got very far. He could not make sense of its seemingly cryptic passages. For this reason, he was not actively seeking God when he first heard Mr. Armstrong’s broadcasts.

The closest he ever came to exploring religion (besides attending Easter, Christmas and weekly Sunday services) was when he visited a Christian Science service in Lima with his paternal grandmother. Even then, he only attended to please her. A devout member of the Christian Scientists, she was initially thrilled to have her grandson attend with her, but disappointed when he did not stand up, sing and participate in the service.

Upon turning a certain age, Dave was confirmed into the local Presbyterian Church. He explained years later:

“This involved briefly appearing in front of a panel of deacons to answer questions before gaining membership. I no longer remember the exact details of this cursory examination, but I do recall making some kind of general affirmation about the denomination. I was not concerned in the least with whether I was in the right church, or if I was fulfilling the Bible definition of a Christian.”

This defined Dave’s spiritual state of mind prior to hearing Mr. Armstrong’s voice on the radio a year and a half later, when he received his first introduction to Christ’s statement, “I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). The young man immediately realized the true Church of God had to exist, and that in light of Christ’s promise it could not be destroyed. But where was it located?

When he came to full enough understanding of what it meant that God was calling him, Dave told his parents he planned to inform his pastor, Dr. W. Wood Duff, that he was relinquishing his membership in the Presbyterian Church. They initially reacted badly, still not fully grasping the depth of their son’s new convictions. Ran and Jane Pack convened an emergency meeting with Dr. Duff, hoping he could talk their son out of leaving. The pastor, instead of accepting the young man’s resignation, although polite, dug in his heels, saying the teenager was confused and that the church would keep him on the membership list for another full year, no matter his request to be removed from the church’s rolls. If at that point he were still of the same mind, his name would be deleted.

This did not matter. He knew from that moment he was no longer a Presbyterian. He could not ignore the new knowledge and understanding that was becoming clear to him as he pored over the literature and continued daily hearing The World Tomorrow.

Chapter Seven – Senior Year—Difficult Decisions

Unlike today, an age when people from virtually every corner of the world can instantly communicate and exchange ideas via the Internet, it was not as easy to obtain information in the 1960s. Facts and information were not “mouse clicks” away.

When Dave first heard The World Tomorrow, he thought it was solely a radio ministry, and that one could only attend The Radio Church of God if the person lived in Pasadena, California. It never crossed his mind that there might be a local Ohio congregation, or that the Church had congregations in cities and towns across the country, and others around the world.

Unlike other religious programs, The World Tomorrow did not surround itself with advertisements calling for new members. Instead, Herbert W. Armstrong simply announced the gospel of the kingdom of God. He understood this is where the Church’s responsibility stopped—it was up to God to open people’s minds and draw them into His Church (John 6:44, 65). Only then did the person begin to have a choice, and begin to have an obligation to examine and prove what he was hearing.

Observations at a Football Game

For some time, Dave thought Ambassador College was merely part of the Bible Correspondence Course’s name. When he found out it was an actual place, an institution of higher learning—with not just one, but three campuses—he was ecstatic. From that moment, he began to seriously consider attending Ambassador.

However, although he continued to grow in spiritual understanding, like many newly called by God, Dave often wrestled with, or missed entirely, how to correctly apply the truths he was learning.

One Friday evening during the fall of his senior year, he and his brother went to a high school football game. In Lima, this was the place to be on a Friday night. The home team was having a good season, and several of the top players were Dave’s friends.

They sat among a crowd of about 10,000 people when the magnitude of the hidden knowledge that he was learning really hit home for the first time. Dave and Bill Pack talked about how amazing it was that they were the only ones in the entire stadium that understood God’s truth. Ironically, Mr. Pack commented years later, this revelation came as he and his brother were in fact breaking the Sabbath by attending a Friday-night football game!

“I do remember actually pinching myself in that stadium at the thought of what I knew. It was then that I realized that the truth was more than just an exciting idea—it required action. But I was not yet ready to keep the Sabbath.”

This was perhaps the most difficult time for the teenager to be called—particularly for an All-American athlete whose life had always centered on sports. With the majority of swimming meets taking place on Saturday, Dave struggled with the idea of having to give up all organized sports to keep the seventh-day Sabbath.

Making the life-changing decision to obey God’s Law would be difficult. The young man knew this. It had been relatively easy to give up eating unclean meats, refrain from doing yardwork on God’s Sabbath and to no longer keep Christmas. However, for the 18-year-old, it was a completely different matter to give up a future successful athletic career.

The young man, severely conflicted about participating in athletics on the Sabbath, did continue competing on that day for a time.

Scholarship Offers

As the first semester of his senior year concluded, Dave received about 40 letters, plus phone calls, from colleges and universities interested in him due to his swimming accomplishments. These included many of the “Big Ten” universities across the Midwest, along with dozens of other prestigious institutions nationwide.

To the excitement of his parents, extended family and friends, Dartmouth College and Cornell University also expressed serious interest. Dave formally applied to Dartmouth. At the time, the Ivy League school was hailed (it still is) as one of the best institutions for higher learning in America. Cornell is also an “Ivy.”

One of Jane Pack’s friends from the country club was married to a Dartmouth graduate. Since the college’s policy mandated that each applicant first interview with an alumnus, the Dartmouth acceptance committee assigned the friend’s husband to interview the young swimmer.

Dartmouth did not offer athletic scholarships at the time. However, communication with a school representative clarified that there was a tacit understanding: While students were not technically required to compete in sports with an Ivy League acceptance, it was tacitly understood that if offered an academic scholarship, Dave would represent the college on its swim team.

The parents were thrilled that their eldest son, after he had dedicated himself to years of hard work, might receive a scholarship at such a prestigious academic institution, and one with a respected swim team with which he could continue his training and follow it wherever it would lead. It was an opportunity that the Packs had long hoped for their children.

Revisiting a Promise

Shortly after submitting his application to Dartmouth, Dave, without his parent’s knowledge, requested an application from Ambassador College. He familiarized himself with the admission process and returned his application, along with a copy of his high school transcript.

With both applications submitted, the young man faced an important crossroads. Learning the truth for the first time not only led him to reconsider his entire future, it forced him to deal with a promise he had made to his father years earlier. After his sophomore year, the Lima teen and his father had an important “man-to-man” talk. The conversation was a defining moment:

“Dave, you just received high school All-American status. I am proud of you and I do not mind you continuing to focus on swimming. I played sports during school, too, but I worked my way through high school.

“So, I am going to make you a deal. I told you when you were young, ‘The meat would catch up with the bones,’ and it has. I’m not going to require you to get an after-school job—if you promise that you will put all your effort into your swim training so that you can pursue an athletic scholarship for college. Your mother and I will continue to pay all of your bills during high school. Then, if you don’t get a scholarship after working as hard as you possibly can for the next two years, we will understand. Your best effort will have been good enough for us. Your mother and I will pay the majority of your college education, with you working your way through as well.

“On the other hand, if you are not going to give it your all, then you need to get a job! We are not interested in giving you a free ride. You know I didn’t get one growing up.

“If you decide not to seriously pursue athletics, then after your schoolwork and job commitments are fulfilled, you may swim as much or as little as you like.”

The youth had not needed time to consider his options—he had already made a decision. Without hesitation, he had promised to put his all into swimming. But “I would have done this anyway,” he said.

Dave then intensified his efforts, starting with the grueling training routine that he would continue for the next two years of high school. The swimmer was determined to obtain scholarship offers from the best schools, and did his best not to disappoint his parents.

Nearly two years later after having given his word to his father, the young man’s swimming career had taken off. And his accomplishments led to many collegiate letters, which he was confident would turn into scholarship offers.

The agreement he had made with his father had seemed perfect—that is, until hearing The World Tomorrow broadcast. Now his whole life’s focus was radically changing. He realized that following the truth meant taking a stand, no longer competing on Saturdays, which in turn meant giving up any hope of an athletic scholarship.

Dave knew he had to make a decision. The more he learned and understood, the more conflicted he became. He did not want to break the deal with his father, but neither could he continue breaking God’s Law.

Also, another dilemma weighed heavily in Dave’s mind: Should I tell my parents that I’m considering attending Ambassador College instead of pursuing an athletic swimming scholarship?

He knew that the next step after leaving the Presbyterian Church would naturally have been to tell his parents he was thinking about alternative career plans—that could even lead to the ministry, but that no one could be sure of this in advance. (Up until the early 1970s, nearly all Ambassador College graduates either entered the ministry or were hired in a non-ministerial function into the Church’s operations, called “The Work.”)

However, given the deal he made with his father, Dave could not bear the thought of breaking his word. Instead of immediately telling his parents about Ambassador, he thought about waiting to see if the college accepted him. Only then would all elements of his path be clear.

Visiting a Congressman

Probably because of a school recommendation, Dave soon learned he was also being considered for an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Maryland.

Dave’s father and three uncles were veterans of the Second World War, and his Uncle Bill had formerly served as the naval base commander in Pensacola, Florida (which was also the location of the navy flight museum under his oversight). A son going into the armed forces after high school would have brought a great deal of pride to a family that held the military in high honor. Attending the U.S. Naval Academy would have meant so much more, as it would have guaranteed Dave a career as an officer in the armed forces.

However, he understood his new religious beliefs meant that entering the armed forces or a military academy was not an option. His father also came to understand this of his son’s convictions.

Still, the consideration came with a required personal interview with his United States congressman, Mr. William McCulloch. Mr. McCulloch had previously served in the Ohio Congress as the House minority leader from 1936 to 1939, and then served as the Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives until 1944. Later, from 1947 to 1973, he served as one of the most distinguished and respected members of the United States House of Representatives.

Here was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear Mr. McCulloch’s thoughts about one world government, which Dave had heard Mr. Armstrong address numerous times—the gospel message about Jesus Christ soon returning to establish the world-ruling government of God. The young man wanted to hear the national lawmaker’s thoughts on the matter.

He was asked to meet with Congressman McCulloch. This was perhaps largely due to his swimming accomplishments, but also because of recommendations from certain school instructors.

The interview came and, as it ended, the young interviewee asked the congressman about his view of one-world government in the hands of men, one that would carry authority over all nations—and whether he felt this might be the answer to the current uncertainty in the world.

The answer was immediate and emphatic. “I do not believe it would work,” the lawmaker said. “But if I thought it would, I would shout it from the housetops.”

Another part of the process was a mandatory physical at a military base in Columbus, Ohio. When Dave chose not to have his scheduled physical, he had assumed this automatically ended his chances. But some weeks later, when he was home from school with the flu, the congressman phoned to notify him that he had been appointed to the Naval Academy. In the course of the conversation, Rep. McCulloch explained that the question about one world government was one of the most interesting questions he had ever been asked, and that it played a role in his decision to grant the appointment.

Though he was honored, Dave made it clear he would not be attending the Naval Academy, for reasons of conscientious objection. Mr. McCulloch was surprised, yet impressed with his honesty.

“Young man,” he said, “almost everyone tells me they are going to think about the decision, so they can see their name in the paper. No one rejects an appointment on the spot. Thank you for your honesty.”

He went on to recount stories about how other young men had done this. Sure enough, the next day after the phone call, a fellow athlete and track star at Lima Senior High School also declined a similar offer—but only after making an announcement with pictures provided of the appointment in the local newspaper.

Although attending the Academy had not been an option, the experience left a lasting impression.

A Visitor from Ambassador College

About this same period, in late February 1967, Dave received a surprise visit while practicing with his swim team after school. His coach motioned him to leave the pool, pulled him aside and said, “A representative from Ambassador College is here to see you.”

A representative from Ambassador College is here to see me? Are you kidding, coach?”

“No, he’s from San Jose State,” his coach shot back sarcastically. “Yes, Ambassador College.” (This was the exact exchange.)

Naturally, the young athlete was both surprised and delighted—it would be his first face-to-face contact with a representative of God’s Church and college! But his joy was soon mixed with embarrassment when, standing by the pool dripping wet, he realized he was about to enter a potentially life-changing visit while wearing only a Speedo swimming suit!

The representative, sensitive to the teenager’s concern that he was making a bad first impression, told him, “That’s all right, don’t worry. I’ll wait while you get dressed. I can drive you home from practice and we can talk.”

At the time, it was not understood that the visit was an official interview, part of the Ambassador College application process. He did, however, recognize this was his chance to make a good first impression.

His parents sat in on the visit and were willing to be supportive. The changes they had seen their son make over the past year, beginning with observing God’s Sabbath, made it apparent he was committed to this new way of life.

After the interview was complete, Ran remarked to the representative, “I must admit my son is dedicated to this. If he is giving up his swimming career, it is because he is moving toward a positive goal—even if this isn’t the religion the family chose.”

Walking back to his car with the teenager, the representative, also a minister, said, “By the way, we have a Church congregation in Toledo, Ohio, with 400 brethren.”

What? Dave thought to himself. He had assumed the Church’s California headquarters and college campus was the only congregation in the world. It had never crossed his mind there might be Church brethren outside Pasadena.

“Four hundred people? Are there any brethren close to me in Lima?” he asked.

“Why, yes,” the man replied. “There is an 85-year-old widow who lives across town.” The minister said his next visit would be to another high school student, a name with whom Dave was very familiar.

The young man was thrilled with the possibility of meeting Church brethren and learning much more of God’s truth at an actual Sabbath service. Yet the state championships were scheduled to be held on the Sabbath. Dave—still unbaptized and therefore not yet with the power of God’s Spirit converting His young mind and strengthening him to overcome weaknesses in the flesh—was again conflicted. The teen was not yet 100 percent committed to God’s way of life, so he focused on preparing for the state finals, just a month away.

“I was in conflict over what to do with a career that had lasted so long, and that had taken so much of my time, to the point that it had almost been my life. While only 17, then 18, I did procrastinate for a few months in what was an important matter of obedience in my life. When Jesus spoke of counting the cost before baptism He presented two options, take an army of 10,000 against 20,000, meaning go forward—or sue for peace, essentially meaning to wait for a time before making a decision. While the latter is never preferred, it does permit one to ‘buy time’ to think. I suppose it could be said that I sued for peace.”

“Altercation” with Swimming Coach

After failing to win a state title despite being a favorite the previous year, Dave set his sights on finally winning the event for which he had trained so hard: the 50-yard freestyle. This would be his last shot at the state title.

Having also qualified to race in the 100-yard freestyle event, he hoped to win two events in the spring 1967 state finals.

Before moving to Denver, Colorado, the previous summer, Dave’s former coach (under whom the teen had practiced during his sophomore and junior years) had stressed to the swim team the importance of arriving early on the day of the event and using warm-up time to get familiar with the pool before the meet. For this reason, he had for years made certain his swimmers arrived at the Ohio State natatorium one day before the championships.

However, the new coach told the team, two days before the state championships, that they would arrive at the meet without any time to practice and familiarize themselves in the university pool.

Everyone on the team who had qualified had put in many extra hours preparing. With so much at stake, young Dave could not understand his coach’s decision. This had never been the custom before.

“Why aren’t we going down early to practice?” he respectfully asked. “We’ve always arrived a day ahead of the meet. Should we not go early?”

“That’s it!” the coach said. “You are off the team! Get out of practice! You are not going!”

Absolutely shocked beyond words and feeling by the coach’s rashness, the young man left practice extremely upset, and returned home heartbroken, tearfully pouring out the story to his father.

As he listened, Ran Pack made a determination: His son had sacrificed for more than 13 years, logging over 7,000 miles to pursue his dream. The WWII veteran, father and successful businessman was not about to let this injustice stand. Would any father?

He immediately walked down the street, three houses away, to the home of the superintendent of all schools in Lima, and the firestorm that ensued showed the magnitude of the coach’s outlandish decision.

Hearing Ran Pack’s brief explanation, the superintendent said the situation would be immediately resolved. If the coach’s foolish decision were permitted to stand, the school stood to lose the prestige it would have otherwise gained. The superintendent then called the principal of the high school, who at once told the coach to reinstate Dave.

Nevertheless, because Ran was a man of principle, he wanted his son to learn a valuable lesson. Instead of coddling him, he forced Dave to swallow his pride and go back to his coach and apologize for any disrespect he might have shown. Dave knew he had done nothing wrong, but he learned from this the value of humbling himself anyway, and apologizing. It would be a lesson worth its weight in gold later.

The coach made a scene in the front foyer of this huge, busy high school with students everywhere hearing him screaming at Dave that this had almost gotten him fired. (It was reported that the same coach was terminated two years later for personal problems, and disappeared.)

“This was one of the strangest moments of my life to date. After the apology the coach said that he would ‘think about it.’ Yet I knew the decision had already been made above his head. But I did what my father told me to do. He was called into the principal’s office for a short time. He emerged momentarily literally crying and screaming across a busy high school foyer. He yelled, with scores or hundreds hearing, ‘You almost got me fired!’ Moments later, he came back from the principal’s office a second time, and was meek as a lamb.”

In the end, the team did not arrive in time to practice. Technically therefore, the coach had won. And, without having familiarized himself in what was a difficult pool—Dave lost the 50-yard race, placing second again. He did, however, manage to post the fastest preliminary time that same morning in the 100-yard event. Yet, in another of the most humbling experiences of his young life to that point, he finished a close second in the finals. He had yet again lost his last two shots at winning a state championship.

Despite his status of being a two-time All-American swimmer, and having now posted another honorable-mention All-American clocking in the longer 100-yard race his senior year, he had lost the title to a mere sophomore from Cincinnati.

Last Swim Meet

Several months had passed since Dave had applied to Ambassador College, yet he still had not been notified whether he had been accepted. Pressure was building—time was running out! If he waited too long to hear from Ambassador, only to learn he had not been accepted, he might miss the short window of time to attend another college.

The Lima teen had received numerous visits from various college coaches, some of whom had flown in to recruit him for their swimming team. Dave sought to wait patiently to see if Ambassador College would accept him.

The pressure to make a decision about his future education was becoming almost unbearable. He could not delay finalizing his college plans for much longer.

Meanwhile, at least partly because of the national record he had set the summer before in Lakewood, Dave was given the opportunity to compete in an AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) meet at the Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana. As he warmed up in the pool the day before the meet, Dave met the university’s head swim coach, James “Doc” Counsilman, considered the most famous—and greatest—swimming coach in the world. Dr. Counsilman had coached the 1964 Olympic swimming team in Tokyo, Japan. He also reached international acclaim in 1961 by becoming the oldest man to swim the English Channel, at age 58.

Coach Counsilman, aware of the Lima athlete and his All-American status, introduced himself and then asked if he could time the young man in a short sprint.

Dave could hardly contain his excitement—he was about to personally swim for the ultimate giant in the swimming world, with several Olympic gold-medalists and other notable swimmers nearby. He briefly warmed up—and proceeded to swim the fastest time ever recorded for 25-yard freestyle!

“No one has ever swum the 25-yard freestyle in 9.2 seconds!” the amazed coach said as Dave jumped from the water. “And I have it on my stopwatch!” (Just a week after a sophomore had beaten him when it counted.)

The coach then introduced him to Charlie Hickcox, standing nearby. Mr. Hickcox had won seven national titles at Indiana University, and would later, after winning three Olympic gold medals, become a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

“Charlie,” coach Counsilman said, “this kid just swam a 9.2 right in front of me!”

After a brief discussion, Dave told the Indiana coach that he planned to study theology at Ambassador College, but that he was still waiting to hear back from the school.

Mr. Counsilman responded, “Young man, you are barely 18 years old, and look at what you just did.”

This was one of the most dramatic moments in his young life.

Undeterred, Mr. Counsilman immediately left for the university’s theology department and spoke with several professors about Dave’s college ambitions.

The coach returned to the pool and told the young man that Indiana University had a “wonderful theology department”—but this was not the theology Dave had in mind.

To make matters worse, Ralph Crowl, Dave’s maternal grandfather, had built most of the existing fraternity houses on campus, and his Uncle Frank was an Indiana University alumnus, from later after the war. The young man’s familial connections to the institution made it even more difficult to respectfully decline further interest from the school.

Mr. Counsilman shook his head in disbelief, disappointed that the talented teen would turn down a chance to attend the university and receive world-class training for the Olympics. The young man’s rationale made no sense to him.

The gentlemanly coach smiled, graciously shook Dave’s hand, told him he respected his decision, and walked away.

Lessons About the Sabbath

Dave reflected on his recent swimming performances and defeats. He concluded that losing—two straight years!—was one of the best things that had ever happened to him. It left him sobered over a wrong course of conduct into which he had fallen. Dave had continued swimming on the Sabbath because he wanted to win the state championship. Now that his high school swimming career was over, the magnitude of his compromise with God’s Law came crashing down on him.

He was zealous for the truth when it first came to gaining knowledge, but he now realized he had put his swimming career ahead of obedience to God. He also wanted to avoid embarrassment before his schoolmates and teachers of being an All-American swimmer who quit in the middle of the season, something that would have reflected badly on the high school.

From the beginning, Dave fervently applied changes to other areas of his life. He no longer ate unclean meat, and refused to observe worldly holidays or join the military, among others. But when it came to the Sabbath, even though conflicted, he had still continued to compromise. The bitter experience of losing forged a lesson that would not be forgotten.

Today, Mr. Pack can reflect on this critical period with even more clarity:

“Practically everyone resists God’s calling in some way when first being drawn out of the world, and I was no different. At the beginning, the path of least resistance is to obey the easiest or most convenient of God’s laws. Many are caught between disbelieving family members and the excitement of learning the truth of God. The consequences are that some never make it out of this critical first stage and submit themselves completely to God. Eventually, pressure pushes them to turn their back on God’s Way. I would not have for a moment entertained going this far, but, again, I did very briefly delay obeying God. That would not happen again.”

In a strange irony, later that summer, in the last race in which Dave would compete before going away to college, he tied the fastest time that had ever been recorded in the 50-yard freestyle.

The lesson was not lost on him: When the win did not matter, it was as though God permitted him to have this special moment, with a large crowd witnessing what happened. This served to further underscore in Dave’s mind that he had done the wrong thing by placing his swimming career ahead of obeying God’s Sabbath command.

Chapter Eight – Preparing for Graduation

Several weeks had passed since Dave learned there was a congregation in Toledo, and the young man’s curiosity about attending had only increased. With his swimming career behind him and the painful lesson of breaking the Sabbath fresh in his memory, he contacted the minister again and this time about attending his first Church service.

A local deacon, Mr. Andrew Prettyman, from near Findlay, some 20 miles northeast of Lima, unselfishly drove to meet with Ran and Jane the Friday evening before he would pick up Dave and take him to Toledo. He wanted to set their minds at ease and assure them their son would not be traveling almost 160 miles (roundtrip total) each Sabbath with someone who was irresponsible.

Witnessing His First “Miracle”

The next morning, April 1, 1967, in Toledo, Dave entered the main hall for services and was greeted by a Church member, who handed the young man a hymnal.

Almost simultaneously, another man hooked Dave’s arm and pulled him aside. In a halting, affected voice dripping with syrupy pretention, the older man declared, “Young man, you have come…to hear the milk…of the Word. The rest of us…have graduated to meat. However, you are here…to receive MILK.”

Taken aback, the new visitor thought, Wow, what a deeply spiritual man! (In time, he would learn that no others put on such pseudo-spiritual phoniness.)

Strange first encounter aside, the whole congregation warmly welcomed the new prospective member from Lima.

Following services, some men in the congregation, having noticed Dave’s height (then 6’6”), immediately drafted him to play on the local Church basketball team. A game was scheduled the very next Saturday evening against the team from the Akron, Ohio congregation. Dave agreed, even though his past commitment to swimming had left no room for playing basketball, beyond a few neighborhood pick-up games years before.

He returned home from his first service, unsure of his basketball skills and worried he would disappoint his new teammates because he had not played in a long time.

Dave certainly had zeal for learning God’s truth, but he still lacked knowledge (Rom. 10:2). For instance, because he did not fully grasp how to properly observe God’s Sabbath, the young man spent much of his first Sabbath afternoon shooting baskets in a neighbor’s driveway.

The next Saturday evening arrived and Dave, having prepared himself for the activity, rode with the same Church family to the Toledo-Akron game in Sandusky. Before playing, Dave was warned to be careful about guarding too closely a certain senior minister on the opposing team, as he was “an evangelist.”

An “evangelist”? Dave wondered. What do they mean an evangelist? Like Oral Roberts or Billy Graham (both of whom Ran Pack listened to periodically)?

In the heat of the game, Dave watched a player severely dislocate a finger. The evangelist calmly approached the man, who was in obvious pain, carefully gripped his hand, as he distracted him, and jerked the finger into place. The player let out a scream.

Impressionable and still growing in knowledge and understanding, Dave thought, I have just witnessed my first “miracle”! Now I understand evangelists.

The injured player continued playing, still in some pain, but noticeably improved.

Following the game was a bonfire, at which Dave, while socializing, overheard a conversation between his pastor and the district superintendent (the evangelist), who seemed interested in the young man’s accomplishments, and whether he planned to attend Ambassador. Although the Toledo minister was aware of Dave’s swimming career, this was the first time the Lima athlete realized anyone else in the Church knew about it. The brief exchange encouraged him, since he still had not heard if Ambassador College would accept him.

He returned home and reported the details of his first Sabbath to his brother. From then on, they attended every Sabbath service and Friday night Bible Study together.

This meant that Mr. Prettyman had to regularly drive out of his way at times on many weekends. He would do anything for anyone, going above and beyond in the way that cemented brethren in the earlier years of the Worldwide Church of God. The deacon’s faithful dedication and service became one of the most powerful examples of the give way of life that Mr. Pack would ever see.

“I have never met finer servants than Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Prettyman. The hours and miles they were willing to put in just for an 18-year-old kid were of hall of fame proportions. I lost track of them, and I do believe that both are deceased. It did not surprise me to hear that Mr. Prettyman went on to be a local church elder. One just could not wish for a finer first example of service, and with kindness, than his whole family.”

Mrs. Armstrong’s Death

Two weeks after his first service, Dave heard that Mrs. Loma D. Armstrong—Mr. Armstrong’s wife of nearly 50 years—had died after an extended illness at age 75. The young man did not then fully grasp the impact that her death had on all congregations, but it was a solemn and sad day for the brethren.

Almost exactly four decades later, Mr. Pack would find himself revisiting the circumstances of Mrs. Armstrong’s death, as that event would carry a much greater and personal meaning to him.

Days of Unleavened Bread

Though certain friends in Lima grew more distant because of his new religious beliefs, both brothers were excited about what they were learning, which brought them even closer. They each had someone with whom they could share the understanding about God’s truth.

In the spring of 1967, the two boys observed God’s Holy Days for the first time. Although they understood the command to observe the Days of Unleavened Bread, they did not yet know exactly how to keep the annual festival. They soon learned that not only did they have to avoid leaven, but they were also required to eat unleavened bread on each of the seven feast days.

One evening while finishing dinner, with sunset drawing near, the boys realized they might not be able to eat unleavened bread before sunset. The Pack brothers pleaded with their mother to bend the long-standing rule of them having to clean the kitchen after dinner, so that they could leave and purchase unleavened bread before sunset. But she would not give them permission. They decided that they could do the dishes and still “make it.”

The boys rushed to clean the plates, cups and utensils. As soon as they were finished, they jumped on their bikes and raced about one mile to the grocery store. With only a minute or two to spare, they tore open a package of rye crisp and began eating the dry, unleavened crackers—while still standing in the checkout line! The scene brought curious and puzzled looks from the checkout clerk and other customers. It was as if they thought, What kind of strange, sweaty teenage boys could possibly be so hungry for boring, joyless rye crisps?

“How ironic today that some people in the splinters now claim that one does not have to eat unleavened bread every day during the spring festival, but rather only avoid leavened bread during this period, as though this is what the Church or Mr. Armstrong always taught. This is ridiculous, and my story carries that message from over 40 years ago. My brother and I still laugh at a moment we could not possibly ever forget.”

Accepted to Dartmouth—then Ambassador!

On April 15, 1967, Dave received a letter from Dartmouth: He had been accepted—and with a special one-of-a-kind grant-in-aid included! In fact, it was explained as the largest similar grant ever offered to a student accepted to Dartmouth College.

The news was bittersweet. The Dartmouth letter stated that Dave had to accept or decline the offer by May 1, or else the school would rescind it. Meanwhile, he still had not received a response from Ambassador College.

The young man was not sure what to do: Should I wait for Ambassador’s response until after the deadline—and miss an opportunity to attend an Ivy League school? What if I am not accepted by Ambassador? Should I accept Dartmouth’s offer in 15 days and thereby forego the incredible opportunity to attend God’s college?

The driven teenager grew anxious as the Dartmouth deadline approached. He knew he would be intensely disappointed if not accepted to Ambassador and “forced” to attend Dartmouth.

A decision had to be made! Dave decided to write the Ambassador College Admissions office and explain his predicament. He worried this could come across as impatient and pushy—but it was a risk he simply had to take. He had to know Ambassador’s decision, or he might lose the option of attending either school.

Dave did not have to wait long for an answer. Unbeknownst to him, his father had decided to himself contact the office of the Registrar. The Registrar listened to the inquiry and the circumstances, momentarily left the phone, only to return and report “Your son’s paperwork all seems to be in order, and he is accepted.” Ran Pack walked in and with a kind of triumphant confidence declared, “You’ve been accepted to Ambassador College.”

His son was ecstatic!

College Tuition Assistance

Attending Ambassador meant that Dave’s life was on a thrilling new course. Thirteen years of training in the water, and a childhood that, in at least a sports regard, had been an extremely difficult grind, was now over. He was relieved that the exhausting, never-ending training regimen had ended—and it was behind him forever.

But another obstacle loomed. Dave realized that turning down the Dartmouth grant meant he would have to pay for his own education—entirely.

In 1967, the annual cost of attending Ambassador was about $2,000 (for tuition, room and board). But the actual expense was more than $13,000 per student. The difference of over $11,000 was underwritten by the Church. This expense was justifiable because the school was an intense training ground for those who would upon graduation either enter the ministry, or join the Headquarters staff or the college faculty. Students were taught to see their time at Ambassador as an unparalleled privilege available to but the tiny few blessed to attend. The Church’s willingness to put in such a huge investment in individual futures also put a certain pressure on the students to live up to all it meant to be an “Ambassador.”

Dave’s decision to attend Ambassador was difficult for his mother to accept. Not a sentimental or emotional woman, she acknowledged crying about his decision to decline the prestigious Dartmouth.

However, his parents soon surprised him when they offered to pay $500 each year (25 percent of the total college expenses), plus help with travel costs—despite the fact that he had turned down Dartmouth and “broken the terms” of the agreement the high school senior had made with his father two years earlier. (They would later double this amount to $500 per semester his junior year.)

Ran Pack, also speaking for his wife, who was present, told his eldest son, “I have to admit, you never stayed out late, you never broke curfew, you never got in trouble on the streets, and you were not a problem to your mother and me. We are proud of your commitment and respect your decision.”

The friends Dave had chosen had, in certain ways, shielded him from many of the problems to which young people fall prey—and his parents had noticed.


Unbeknownst to Dave, Dartmouth had notified administrators at his high school of his acceptance to the college. The principal, Howard Scharman, entered the classroom, interrupting the English teacher, Mrs. Johnson.

“I have exciting news!” he said. “We have a young man sitting right here in this class who has been accepted to Dartmouth college—Mr. David Pack.”

Everyone turned and stared at the teenager of the moment, who sat near the back of the room. The teacher, Mrs. Johnson, rose and congratulated him, with some of the class lightly clapping.

“Of course, you are going to attend, aren’t you?” the principal asked.

Thirty sets of eyes were now on the too-big-to-hide student. The news was more than just a “feather in his cap”—it was also a “feather in the cap” of the high school. Further, a number of teachers and administrators had gone out of their way to write strong recommendations on his behalf.

“No, sir,” he answered, “I am not,”

The principal paused, incredulous to what he just heard.

Without asking why, he responded, “Then you are a very foolish young man!”, before wheeling around and marching out of the room.

This was horribly embarrassing. After the incident, Dave quickly went from being the local athletic hero to practically the school outcast. Many felt betrayed. His teachers felt they had invested in this “All-American swimmer,” who had now turned his back on them. No one could understand why he was choosing this “strange” new path.

His peers ridiculed and mocked him openly in class. Knowing he turned down the Naval Academy, and now considering him a pacifist, and realizing he would not retaliate, they called out, “Here comes Jesus!” when Dave was coming. Or, because of his height, they said to him, “How’re you doing, Mt. Sinai?”—all because they learned that he planned to attend a religious college.

Considering his competitive nature and having been taught to defend himself, biting his lip was one of the most challenging things Dave had ever faced.

But time passed, and friends moved on, deciding it was easier to distance themselves. The high school senior soon found he was alone. Thankfully, school was out a month later.

In the end, being taunted and shunned by certain people only intensified Dave’s burning desire to turn the page in his life. He looked forward to moving on to the next chapter: attending Ambassador College and participating in the Work of God.

Draft Board Battle

As graduation approached, and the taunting and social persecution continued, Dave faced a more pressing issue: He had been drafted to serve in the Vietnam War. As required by law, he had registered on his 18th birthday, December 7, 1966. But God’s truth had already taught him that he could not fight or engage in warfare in any fashion. He would have to claim conscientious objector status.

Avoiding the draft in the 1960s was no small feat. Many of the men who chaired draft boards had watched their own friends die in the Second World War. These seasoned veterans were not impressed with pacifists and draft-dodgers. They were tired of seeing America becoming socially and politically polarized with riots in the streets and sit-ins protesting the war in Southeast Asia. Draft boards considered most objections as an excuse for cowardice.

With this as a backdrop, Dave prepared to defend his conscientious objector stance. The board examined his written request for exemption, and in light of what they viewed as a “recent conversion” to this “religious thinking,” disputed the sincerity of his request. It seemed to them that the young man was using “beliefs” to insulate himself from the war.

Dave was adamant. Appearing before the board, in the spring, he said, “Wait a minute. I’ve given up scholarships. I turned down an appointment to the Naval Academy. I am going to go to a religious college—and I am not going to fight.”

Yet, no matter how solid his logic or determined his stance, the board ignored the request.

But in a turn of events, their decision to dispute his status was essentially nullified because all male Ambassador College students received automatic “4-D” status. Attending the religious school was considered ministerial training. Granting a 4-D status meant he had at least four years until his case would be revisited.


Two weeks later, the senior wore his cap and gown, and graduated from high school. He watched 534 other seniors walk across the stage, all embarking on a new phase of their lives.

Sitting out on the field of the football stadium, where graduation was held, it struck Dave that he was in the same place he had been when, one Friday evening nine months earlier, he had realized the unbelievable gift with which he had been blessed—that of understanding the precious truth of God.

His classmates could still not understand why he was giving up his athletic career, and virtually all association with them ended with the conclusion of the ceremony.

Dave felt overwhelmed with his new calling. In the truest sense, this was a commencement: He was leaving behind his old life and starting a new one. Relieved that school was finally over, he could now focus on preparing for Ambassador College.

Pawning Trophies

With his parents promising to cover 25 percent of his college costs, Dave set out to earn as much as possible before he left for Pasadena.

During his years of competitive swimming, Dave had won 43 trophies; many were large and very beautiful, and of much better quality than the trophies given today. He carefully put them into a box and took them to a pawnshop. He asked the man behind the counter, “How much will you give me for these?”

“I’ll give you one dollar for each trophy,” the man answered.

The college-bound student did not hesitate. He left the shop with $43.

Though he wished decades later he had, perhaps, kept just one trophy, he was excited back then about starting a new life. The trophies meant nothing in comparison to the awesome path that lay ahead.

“I had no intention of looking back. Yes, I do wish I had kept just one trophy to show my children. But I still have all or most of my medals—and I have never even once, since 1967, taken the time to examine them, even though they hang on the wall in a display prepared by my wife. (I think there is a picture of a display of them in the biography.) In fact, telling this story is the first time I have even thought about these medals in decades. I have never for one minute regretted that my swimming career was over and that most symbols of it are gone.”

Selling his hard-earned awards also provided a sense of closure—and relief. The belittling grief from friends and acquaintances, the pressure of proving the truth, having finally gained the support and respect of his parents, the tense anticipation over his acceptance to Ambassador—it was all finally over!

As he did not net much from the sale of the trophies, Dave spent the summer working as the head lifeguard at a new local swim and tennis club.

Details and Timeliness

Dave’s summer job meant he was usually responsible for closing the pool at the end of the night. This set the stage for one of the greatest early lessons he would learn.

One summer evening, at exactly one minute before the 9:00 p.m. closing time, he scanned the wide open fields completely surrounding the pool, glanced down the street, and saw that no one was approaching. Though anxious to get home, he slowly left the complex, locking the door behind him.

The next morning, a call came from the club manager, who asked, “Did you close the pool early last night?”

Dave answered, “There was no one anywhere near the pool when I left at, perhaps, a few seconds before closing, literally.”

“That’s not what I asked,” his boss shot back. “One of the board members claims he arrived last night right before nine o’clock, and wanted to jump in the pool to cool off. He claims he would have had time to quickly hop in, but it was locked for the night and he saw you riding away.”

Dave explained that there was no possible way the man could have arrived at 8:59 p.m. His supervisor acknowledged the probable exaggeration, and agreed there was no way he could have been at the pool before nine.

Then he asked, “What time did you close?”

“At a few seconds before nine o’clock.”

“Well, regardless of whether the man was there or not, you knowingly broke the rules. You are fired.”

The 18-year-old was stunned. He had been trying to save every penny he could for the upcoming school year, and now had lost his job—with a full week left in the summer.

The club manager was also a member of the high school faculty. There was little doubt that the termination was at least partly retaliation for the decision to end his swimming career.

A sobering lesson was learned that day: the importance of being on time and paying attention to detail, in addition to the cold reality that religious persecution can come in subtle forms.

Final Advice

Summer ended and Dave was ready to depart to California. Meanwhile, his parents wanted to ensure he was prepared for the life-changing path he had chosen—to squarely face the challenge and learn as much as he could along the way.

His mother had, for 18 years, prepared him for social situations, and continually focused on logic, vocabulary, grammar and proper etiquette. Not only did she offer words of encouragement before he left, but she also wanted his appearance to be proper.

Having long stressed the importance of quality, Jane Pack took him to a local tailor and had a beautiful navy suit and custom-tailored sport jacket made for him—his first of each. She wanted her son to present a proper appearance at college.

“Dave, you must realize that you are a tall man,” she told him. “This means you should always follow (classic) styles, never try to set them!”

She taught the young man to choose conservative clothing—helpful guidance for which he was grateful.

His father also gave him sound counsel in a meaningful conversation that took place on a walk just days before his son left for college. As the two walked together, Ran Pack spoke words of advice still seared in his son’s mind today: “Son, 50 percent of college is being away from home. Never forget this.”

His father was not diminishing the importance of academic achievement, but rather stressing the necessity of becoming independent—of standing on one’s own feet. College—being away from home—would force more learning.

He continued, “Dave, beginning with leaving for college, you have to ‘cut the mustard’ on your own.”

From his earliest memories, the son had heard this phrase, but now the words hit home.

The elder Pack reminded his son that he had declined scholarship offers to the Naval Academy, Dartmouth, and other schools, and now had to forge his own way.

He said, “If this is truly the path you have chosen, son—go succeed! You know your mother and I will always be encouraging and supportive, but beyond helping with tuition, our support is over. You are on your own! Failing and returning home is not an option!”

His father’s words sobered him. There was a reason he spoke as he did—he knew his oldest son well. Ran Pack had always taught his son to rise to the challenge before him and to do the best he could, realizing that no one could do more.

Ran had also repeated to his children, time and again, during their growing years Harry Truman’s adage, “There is plenty of room at the top in life. It is the bottom that is crowded.”

Dave took his parents’ advice to heart. He was motivated. He came over time to recognize that the time and energy he had expended preparing for an illustrious swimming career might now help him achieve success at Ambassador College.

Chapter Nine – Arriving at Ambassador

Recent high school graduate David Pack did not know what to expect when he would arrive in Pasadena, California. His excitement had increasingly grown over the summer as he looked forward to studying and living on campus at God’s college and Headquarters.

In the back of his mind, the youth hoped he might one day be considered for service in the ministry. However, because he had only recently started attending services, the process of becoming a true minister of God was largely a mystery to him. He had recognized that one had to be called by God, which meant being selected by His servants at Headquarters. Therefore, David concluded it was wrong to actively seek or even hope to be in the ministry.

The Purpose of Ambassador

At his last Sabbath service in Findlay, Ohio (on this congregation’s first Sabbath as a new congregation) before leaving for Ambassador, the minister very carefully explained a scripture that forever changed the soon-to-be student’s attitude.

His pastor, with Bible in hand, turned to I Timothy 3:1 and said, “Look at this verse: ‘If a man desires the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.’”

The student to be had not noticed the scripture before.

“You’re going to go to Ambassador College,” the man said, “and you’re going to hear, ‘Oh, you would never want to seek the ministry. It’s a calling. You should flee from it like Jonah; then wait to be drafted by God.’ That thinking is false.

“Now I’m not disagreeing with other ministers, but I see a tremendous desire in you,” he continued, “so I’m going to tell you to go out there and believe what the Book says. He that desires the office of a bishop desires a good work. Don’t covet the office, the power or the influence. But desire, ‘covet,’ the work and the service when you get there.”

Hearing the minister explain the verse was a life-changing moment—it was as though a switch had been flipped in his mind. From then on, he decided to do everything he could to prepare to become a minister, because he desired to serve. If the opportunity would someday come, he wanted to be ready—whether it came was to be left to God to determine.

Understanding the correct message in the verse left the young man feeling confident that the path he had chosen was indeed the correct one. He knew without a doubt he had made the right decision to attend Ambassador College.

Arriving in California

The next morning, Jane Pack drove her son to the Toledo airport, where he boarded a plane headed for California, three time zones away. Two other Ambassador-bound students were also on the flight.

By the time the plane landed at Los Angeles International Airport, the sun had already gone down, yet the weather was still hot and muggy.

Having lived in Ohio the first 18 years of his life, Mr. Pack was struck by how strange the Southern California landscape appeared, as the shuttle to Pasadena drove by pumping oil derricks and towering palm trees. This was the first time he had been west of the Mississippi River; the surroundings were quite a change from the Midwest.

The Lima native was picked up at a hotel drop-off point by a junior student—a young man who would become a friend and fellow minister. (Sadly, 26 years later, this very person would do all he could to help get Mr. Pack fired from employment in the Worldwide Church of God.)

The new freshman arrived on campus late Sunday night and was taken to Manor Del Mar, a beautiful, historic old mansion that had been converted to student housing. I’m going to be living here?, he thought.

However, some of the fire of enthusiasm quickly dampened when, upon entering the room assigned to him, the “long” student saw his bed—a small upper bunk barely six feet long! He spent his first night trying to sleep in a bed that (he joked years later) “was obviously designed for Mickey Rooney.”

The dorm monitor, the first person who greeted him upon campus arrival, happened to be the student body president. He listened to the young man plead his case that, at his height, he would have an impossible time sleeping on such a small bed. The next day, the dorm monitor took the new arrival to the Student Housing Department and found a special extended-length (and width) bed. The student from Lima would use it for the next four years until graduation.

With “bed reassignment,” David was transferred the next day to a different dormitory, at 360 Grove Street, for the duration of his freshman year.

First Days on Campus

On his first morning, an excited student awoke with the full realization that he was away from all that was familiar, including his family—and he only knew two people on campus, the two fellow students from Toledo.

But homesickness only lasted for about a day as he began to meet fellow students and faculty. Mr. Pack adjusted to his new surroundings, drinking in the sheer joy of finally being at Ambassador College, now with most of the pressures from family and friends behind him.

Unsure of what to do next, the All-American swimmer went where he knew he would be instantly comfortable: the college natatorium.

Next, he decided to visit the gymnasium to try basketball at a higher level. He hoped that, similar to his first Sabbath in Ohio, he would quickly make friends through the sport. Though he was nervous his height might cause people to automatically expect him to be a better player, he laced up his shoes and headed to an open gym. There Mr. Pack saw for the first time Garner Ted Armstrong, Mr. Herbert Armstrong’s son, and introduced himself to other students.

During his first few days on campus, the young student became acquainted with the faces of senior ministers at Headquarters—Roderick Meredith, Al Portune, Dibar Apartian and others—men who had to this point only been names on booklets or articles in the Church’s publications. Like other freshmen, the new student was wide-eyed, thrilled to see these men in person; he almost “thought the earth would shake when they walked past.”

Far more exciting, all freshmen students had the opportunity to spend their first Sabbath service on campus, where they saw the man who was the voice millions of listeners heard on The World Tomorrow: Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong.

Landscaping—then “Faculty”

During orientation week, one of the first and most important responsibilities of incoming freshmen was to apply for a job on campus. Usually first-year students were assigned to the entry-level, physical tasks: kitchen duty, janitorial work or gardening. The menial labor of washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms (and toilets) and landscaping duties in the hot summer sun and smog of Southern California helped new students develop a strong work ethic. It also helped them to understand the effort and organization needed to support campus operations and maintain the beautiful environment.

The Personnel Department assigned David to work in the Landscaping Department to help maintain the magnificent campus grounds and gardens. He accepted the simplicity of the assignment, which would allow him to use some of the skills his parents had forced him to hone while working in the yard.

Just hours after receiving his landscaping job, the young man decided to get some exercise swimming in the gymnasium/natatorium complex. There he met Dr. Floyd Lochner, a former world record holder in the 3,000-meter steeplechase from 1932-1935. (Dr. Lochner broke his leg just prior to Adolf Hitler’s controversial 1936 Berlin Olympics. Two weeks before competing in the Olympic trials, his cast was removed and he placed fourth—just missing one of the top three places necessary for being selected to the U.S. Olympic team.)

“So you are David Pack,” he said to the freshman. “What is your job here on campus?”

Naturally, the young man was taken aback that Dr. Lochner knew his name.

When he mentioned his new job in landscaping, Dr. Lochner seemed surprised. He promptly told him he would no longer be an employee of the Landscaping Department, but rather would work as a physical education faculty member. He added it had “already been worked out.” (In fact, the 18-year-old was unaware that, due to his accomplishments back home, he had been assigned to the faculty before he even set foot on campus.)

What?, the freshman thought. I’m on the faculty?

After this assignment, problems began.

Human Nature Surfaces

The majority of staff and faculty understood they were on campus to serve. But a few individuals, who misunderstood the true purpose and correct administering of God’s government, sought opportunities to “humble people on God’s behalf.” This minority practiced a controlling style of “leadership,” harshly correcting students unnecessarily. After orientation week ended, David immediately ran into this.

Although most in the Physical Education Department might have been excited to have him on campus, some were determined to “humble him.”

David reported early for his first day of work to where Dr. Lochner had directed him to go—to “take a seat in the gymnasium foyer area.” However, the instructions had been brief; the student was unsure of exactly what to do. Entering the complex, he sat in the lobby and waited. A staff member walked by, saying, “Come downstairs and change clothes.”

David trailed him toward the locker room, relieved at being pointed in the right direction. On the way, they passed the open door of the faculty locker room, where they saw one of the coaches, whom David had not yet met. The coach, his feet propped up as he ate a sandwich during his lunch break, called out gruffly, “Why aren’t you dressed?” The entire Physical Education department was seated on the floor eating lunch.

David answered, “I was waiting upstairs, but I wasn’t sure where to report or what to do, so I—”

The coach cut him off mid-sentence and yelled, “Don’t pull that All-American (expletive) with me!”

The freshman from Lima stood dumbfounded, shocked that a faculty member at Ambassador College would ever use foul language! Plus, David had done absolutely nothing wrong, yet this man was so quick to accuse and humiliate him.

Rather than get angry, the student hurriedly entered the locker room to do as instructed.

A few hours later, the coach apologized for his outburst, saying he regretted what he had said. Someone had apparently taken the coach to task.

The immediate sobering reality that Ambassador was not the expected “Millennium on Earth” hit home. David was learning that, even though this was God’s college, human nature was still very much present.

First Task

His first assignment as a “member of the faculty” was to teach a softball class comprised of senior students—but there was a problem: The 18-year-old had never taught a class of any kind, plus he had played very little softball back home. As a softball instructor, he literally did not have a clue of what to do.

As chance would have it, the student body president (recall the dorm monitor from David’s first night on campus) was in the class. Since David was unsure of how to proceed, the man mercifully helped him organize the class.

Next, David learned he would be instructing a badminton class. This presented another problem: He knew what “bad” meant, and he knew what “mittens” were, but he had little idea how to teach “badminton.”

David was then assigned to lead physical education classes, despite lacking proper guidance and teaching experience. Mr. Pack looked back later, realizing this could not have been by accident. He was being deliberately tested.

Thus, his faculty career began inauspiciously and without much instruction whatsoever—punctuated with verbal abuse and foul language.

The utopian expectation of Ambassador College was further shattered after the small town Ohio native learned that “locks were used on the campus.” How could there possibly be a need for locks among God’s people?, he asked himself. It had, almost literally, never crossed his mind that fellow students and faculty members, though privileged to study and work at God’s college, still possessed human nature, and that a few might give in to the temptation to steal—or that outsiders could come on campus for this purpose.

Social Situations

Although shy earlier, David did not have a hard time meeting people. He found the majority of students friendly and welcoming, which was reassuring to a young man who had recently come into the Church and left his family three time zones away.

“Before I arrived, I heard that only one in eight applicants were accepted and it made me feel incredibly grateful. Largely due to my lack of social confidence, I didn’t see myself as special in any way. I think because of my height and athletic history, some mistakenly assumed I might be quite arrogant or overly confident. As a younger man, there were of course certainly elements of these, but the reality was that I was very insecure and uncertain of myself, and felt I had a tremendous amount to measure up to.”

Although he met many helpful students, he also came to realize that some were disingenuous in their offers of friendship. Even several Imperial School students (those who attended the K-12 school for children of Church members, college faculty and staff) sought his friendship because of his previous athletic accomplishments in a world in which they had not participated. A few hoped that since he had only recently learned God’s truth, he would be worldly, “cool” and more inclined toward what was always their borderline behavior.

Those who thought this way could not have been more wrong. If David had intended to live a worldly lifestyle, he would have accepted a scholarship to one of the many secular universities that had pursued him in high school. He chose to study at Ambassador because he chose to learn, practice and experience a different way of life—God’s Way.

Attending Classes

Upon attending his first class, David realized how different it was from his high school curriculum. High school had revolved around the importance of accumulating general knowledge and information—but classes at Ambassador focused on teaching young people how to live, and the details of God’s ultimate plan for humanity. Lectures on Bible prophecy and the answers to life’s greatest questions immediately captivated him. David took meticulous notes, which he still refers to on occasion, even today. (His notes would one day prove to be helpful in a way he could never imagine.)

Unlike high school, amazingly, everything made sense and any freshman student could prove the truth he or she was learning directly from the Bible! Administrators did not teach “book knowledge” students were required to “regurgitate” only once on a test—rather, they emphasized logical thinking, intense analysis and precise articulation. One knowledge-hungry freshman from Lima could not get enough!

To help effectively retain the information he was rapidly learning, David determined to rise each morning between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. to study. Through all of his freshman year and beyond, he went through the entirety of the Old and New Testaments highlighting his Bible according to subject and summarizing each book and chapter.

“In my sophomore year I arose at 5:00 a.m. every day to carefully highlight every verse in all of the Old Testament prophets. I was very serious, and I determined I was going to continue recording the full biblical proof of absolutely everything. I was going to focus on all of the doctrines, and continue doing this in different ways through all four years. I diligently dug into God’s Word, and when I was told that ‘You need to study, research and know these things,’ I took it seriously and did it every time.”

The Bible from which he preaches still carries the notes he gained from a priceless, four-year Ambassador College education.

Developing a System of Bible Marking

It was during his freshman year, but the process also continued into his sophomore year, that David came to recognize the importance of having a systematic, working system for effectively marking his Bible. Above all, he wanted to thoughtfully develop a system because first, Bibles were expensive, but also because it would be difficult to start over as he had already once had to do, and further that whatever method he chose would be used for years to come.

He first began by carefully querying ministers, as well as many senior students and upperclassmen, about how they put notes in their Bibles. He had heard different people use different methods so he asked them if he could see their Bibles.

First, it was immediately obvious that all different kinds of Bibles and translations were used. Some had wide margins, and others had no margin. He observed that some people used a coloring system, while others never used colors. Others wrote over the top of the text, while some only wrote in the margins. Some underlined; others used symbols next to different topics. For instance, anything on Christ’s millennial reign would have a “1000” next to it or over it, depending on available space. Anything regarding marriage would be marked with an “M.” He also learned, painfully, which pens were not good to use, that some quickly bled through the pages of the Bible. Avoid red at all cost.

After examining a wide range of note-taking methods, early in his sophomore year he concluded that there was no one correct way to mark a Bible, with all others wrong. Although he saw many elements he could use, he knew that his system had to work for him. In the end, David’s system was a compilation of other people’s systems, using colors, notes over text and in small print in the margins, and a handwritten topical index in the back, coupled with his own ideas. He also chain-referenced much of the old Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course through his Bible.

Later in his ministry, his heavily marked Bible allowed him, if asked, to give a sermon or sermonette at the last minute. And in-depth study of certain Bible chapters or books enabled the delivery of much richer and more interesting sermons. Messages on Jonah, Philemon, Romans 12 and the series on I, II and III John are all examples of this. (Later, a complex color-driven system was developed for sermon notes.)

After developing this specific system, notes from class lectures were systematically transferred into his Bible. In classes when the lectures moved slowly enough, notes would be written into the margin of his Bible. Although many students did this, David found that, in most classes, not all, he could not move fast enough to cover enough material and still be legible later. He wondered, What is the best system to include these crucial notes into my Bible?

The young college student’s conclusion ultimately cost him vast quantities of hours, but it is one that he does not regret. He decided to carefully write his notes into his Bible outside of class. This meant spending mornings before class, time in the evenings, as well as extra hours during the Sabbath. This process lasted for years, and in some ways continues to this day.

Since the goal was as much information as possible on a page, while still being legible, the notes had to be extremely small. To do this meant writing as fast as humanly possible in a notebook during class, and then later, slowly, painstakingly installing the best summary of wording into the Bible.

A near entire Ambassador College education now exists in the margins of one Bible. Through his years at AC, and after, Mr. Pack did see a few other Bibles with full margins, but this was rare.

Ambassador Club

Although he enjoyed almost every class his first year, there was one that he, at first, dreaded—public speaking. The thought of speaking in front of others seemed frightening. From the very first time, singing “Hot Cross Buns” in grade school, he had come a ways to merely being nervous about doing his best.

David realized that, to his initial dismay, public speaking was not just a required class—it was considered an integral part of Ambassador College training. As a freshman, he spoke in front of an audience in both the required Basic Speech Class (part of the college curriculum), and Ambassador Club, an extracurricular formal speech club required for all male students. The club’s purpose was to train potential leaders to be effective speakers. Five officers under a director, and sometimes an assistant director, led each club of up to 30 members.

The Ambassador Clubs were a picture of precision and order. All members learned that one of the three purposes of club was to “show Church members God’s government in action.”

It was here that David gave his first speech, an “icebreaker,” an assignment in which he had to introduce himself to fellow students and to elaborate on his background, likes, dislikes and general family history.

Speaking in front of others, especially before strangers, did not at first come easily. There was a time or two when the young man was unable to finish a sentence before trailing off and trying to start another thought. One time, the instructor interrupted him in the middle of a speech, asking the freshman to finish the rest of the sentence. While this made David more nervous, it did serve to make him think through where his speech was going at all points within it.

Thankfully, the young speaker soon recognized that careful preparation alleviated almost all the anxiety in public speaking; the material covered and structure of the speech generated its own confidence.

At a later point, David was assigned a “humor” speech. Dreading the day he was to give it, he prepared a speech titled “What in Health’s Going On?” It centered on natural foods, since his parents had recently become intensely interested in natural health—and would about two years later purchase a business selling natural food products.

For one of his second year assignments, an “unusual experience” speech, David went to downtown Los Angeles to attend a Pentecostal revival. He witnessed a shocking scene of thousands of people reeling and screaming in the aisles. Conservatively reared, he had never seen anything like it.

His freshman year drew to a close, and he had gained enough confidence and improved so much as a speaker that he won the Ambassador Club Cup for a speech about a highway accident. This acknowledgement of growth meant the world to him—a young man who initially had lacked confidence in expressing himself verbally before his peers.

The “West Point” of God’s Work

From the moment David set foot on campus, almost every aspect of the school’s operation amazed him. The high caliber of all the events, organizations, activities, classes, food and beauty of the environment was very impressive.

Mr. Armstrong always stressed the importance of excellence in everything. Even the food provided to the staff and student body was no exception. The quality of meals served in the Ambassador Dining Hall was of the highest standard. The food service staff went out of their way to provide wholesome and natural foods. All meals were prepared, cooked and baked on campus to ensure this level of quality.

Also, Mr. Armstrong wanted college life to reflect a certain standard, yet include a wide variety of activities. Administrators expected students to maintain a rigorous schedule: working several hours a week, maintaining a full course load, participating in sports, and dating fellow classmates, in addition to sufficient, regular deep personal Bible study, prayer and meditation. And these were on top of the intense speech and leadership training of Ambassador Club, held weekly.

Due to a continuously hectic routine, there was very little opportunity for the mindless entertainment with which many college students waste their time today. In fact, David watched only three or four movies his entire college career. The college’s rigorous schedule served as a “pressure cooker” to define and develop leaders. Those who experienced Ambassador College firsthand often referred to it as the “West Point” of God’s Work.

Mr. Pack looked back decades later and recognized even more how true the “West Point” and “pressure cooker” analogies were.

“There was no question that the schedule was demanding, and in almost every sense. By contrast to worldly colleges, one day a week was gone to the Ambassador student simply because of the Sabbath. Then there were the prayer and study that worldly counterparts would also not be doing. Working usually about 20 hours a week, plus Ambassador Clubs, chorale or band for some, intramural sports, and almost mandatory dating would all have been on top of what any student in the world would be required to do.”

The physical and spiritual demands required of everyone on campus made the Sabbath a very special occasion. Resting and reflecting on the seventh day of the week made it evident why God had originally made the Sabbath for man—and why He commanded its observance.

All male students began the Sabbath enjoying a specially prepared Friday-evening meal, followed by male students usually escorting female counterparts to the weekly Bible study, where Mr. Armstrong or senior ministers spoke and reported news of the Work. The following day, services were held on campus morning and afternoon to accommodate the large number of Church members in the area.

Outside of organized activities, most students spent Saturday nights in their dorms fellowshipping, or using the unscheduled time to catch up on studying. Others used the time to socialize, occasionally going out to dinner with friends.

As often as not, David used this free time to reflect on the path his life had taken—and where he was headed. On hundreds of occasions, he strolled through the lush gardens and fountains of the college campus, sometimes sitting on a bench and meditating. Before leaving for college, his father (as well as those who had previously attended Ambassador) counseled him to “Take time to think!”—opportunities he did not want to miss.

He spent many Saturday nights under the stars, contemplating and meditating. He knew if he did not regularly pull back from the daily grind, life would come at him too quickly.

“Some of the best advice I ever received was the ‘take time to think’ counsel given me by my local pastor just before I boarded the plane for Pasadena. In fact, I still make sure that I find time to do it today. This kind of meditation has a powerful ‘grounding effect’ that must be experienced to be appreciated. King David meditated in the night watches (Ps. 63:6), and Isaac walked in the fields at eventide (Gen. 24:63). I walked and sat throughout the campus in isolated places uncounted times, regularly reminding myself of why I was born and why I was attending God’s college.”

Other times, Saturday nights were occupied with a variety of college-sanctioned activities. In the winter, two class and faculty intramural basketball games were played, the biggest social event of the week. The entire faculty and staff gathered in one location to watch the six basketball teams play (freshmen, sophomore, junior, senior, faculty and Imperial High School). In addition, the pep band performed at the games. In January, the college hosted a tournament with an additional team arriving from the sister campus in Big Sandy, Texas.

Students used Sundays to catch up on assignments or study. Others played sports, went shopping or even worked all day to fulfill their student labor requirement.

Then it was back to the “pressure cooker” on Monday morning every week.

As he grew accustomed to the intense learning environment, the AC student concluded he would not have it any other way.

Chapter Ten – Life-threatening Trial—and Olympic Training

Settling into a routine at Ambassador, David prepared for the most exciting event of the year: the Feast of Tabernacles. This annual eight-day fall festival foreshadowed the soon-coming wonderful world tomorrow—a time when, after Jesus Christ returns to establish the government of God upon the earth, mankind would experience the peace, prosperity, good health, abundance and justice resulting from obeying God’s laws. Each year, brethren across the world traveled to Feast sites, where they listened to sermons reminding them of their special calling (developing righteous, godly character in preparation to become teachers, priests and rulers in the kingdom of God), as well as enjoying wholesome family-oriented activities.

David very much looked forward to attending his first Feast of Tabernacles, in Squaw Valley, California. There was a mysterious anticipation about meeting and fellowshipping with such a throng of unknown brethren, and being able to “dine” on so much spiritual food.

With the busy schedule of classes and activities, the few weeks until the Feast seemed to fly by—and before he knew it, the time had arrived.

First Feast of Tabernacles

Before arriving at the Feast site, the student body visited the world-famous Yosemite National Park on the way. On the trip’s only free day, David and six other students decided to hike up a mountain. At a point, they purposely left the trail to take a shortcut in the interest of saving time—but became lost. The trail was not where they anticipated it would be. Frightened and unsure of how to reach safety before darkness arrived, the seven freshmen and sophomores fought through thick mountain laurel and brush trying to relocate the path as they slowly ascended treacherous terrain.

Hours later and near dark, the group, having had to split up, found the trail once again. In the meantime, concerned faculty chaperones had called the park service. When everyone arrived back in the valley, the group was scolded and “written up” for their carelessness.

The students put their experience behind them and prepared for the upcoming Feast of Tabernacles. All students were assigned to lodge at the dormitory used by the international competitors in the 1960 Winter Olympics.

On opening night, those from the college joined perhaps 7,000 other brethren for services in the Olympic ice skating rink. Other than the Pasadena congregation, the Feast was the first time David had seen so many members gathered in one place.

In one sermon, a minister brought a flashlight to the lectern and, with the lights out, informed Feast-goers that they were the “lights of the world,” regularly flashing the light at key moments. These kinds of messages drove home how different members were from the world around them.

One of the new student’s main goals at the Feast was to meet as many brethren as possible, especially the elderly. At AC all freshmen were instructed to try to sit with older people and talk with them. The college student decided to take this instruction seriously, and to talk with as many elderly people as possible. He noticed that many of them were largely ignored.

At 18, and only having been at AC for six or seven weeks, he began to see the value of such discussions. The Feast in Squaw Valley was the first of many times he made an effort to learn from those older than he.

Talking with one woman from Nebraska was particularly memorable and left a distinct impression on the young student. She had lived a rich life, and was absolutely full of stories of divine protection she had experienced. So much so that he asked her to write a letter about her life so he could give a speech about it. She did, and the letter documented her incredible experiences. (Mr. Pack still has it.) She survived her house being burned down, violent automobile crashes, a flood and two tornadoes, with one of them lifting and throwing her a mile away. Mr. Pack still recalls details of the discussion with this unique woman left out by virtually everyone.

“I sat for hours talking to older people who had been in the Church for years. In those days (1967), many brethren went back to the 1950s, with more than a few going back to the 1930s and 40s during Mr. Armstrong’s ‘Oregon Years.’ I still remember names of people I met. I was in awe of the entire experience.”

David returned to Ambassador College rejuvenated, incredibly inspired by the experience of an eight-day “sermon/fellowship feast.” Careful note-taking left him more enthused than ever to take the lessons of the Festival and employ them.

Deadly Infection Strikes

Although he had acclimated to teaching a variety of sports, shortly after returning from Squaw Valley, David’s faculty responsibilities shifted to his area of expertise: swimming. In addition to teaching water polo, he taught swimming classes, giving lessons to both Ambassador College and Imperial School students and to faculty. His new duties gave him enough time to get in some personal swimming.

Some weeks later, David caught a minor cold that resulted in a small sore on the inside of his nose. Because he was constantly in and out of the water, and blowing his nose, the scab slowly worsened due to constant submersion in the pool and the drying action of the highly chlorinated water.

Unknown at the time, what had quickly become painful soon developed into a life-threatening staph infection that began to consume cartilage and tissue inside the right side of his nose! David realized its severity only when his nose turned beet red and swelled terribly. The pain was the worst he had ever experienced, and he eventually had to be taken to nearby Huntington Memorial Hospital.

David learned that the area of infection had spread dangerously close to his brain, the physician explaining to him that it had already passed behind his forehead. He was told that meningitis would likely soon strike, meaning almost certain death.

It was on a Wednesday when the doctor informed the young man that, unless treated, he had less than one week to live.

“This was without a doubt the most dramatic moment of my life to date. When I refused any medication, the physician (Doctor Hunnicutt) spoke to me in the bluntest terms he could muster, his exact words being, ‘Young man, this is Wednesday and you will not SEE next Wednesday if you do not take one of these sulfa compounds.’ I refused. So he brought in a nurse, while pulling out a list of 37 different options—I still remember—that could save my life. He told me to, literally, ‘close my eyes and pick any one.’

“It was a surreal moment.

“I was not yet baptized, but I was strangely calm at the thought that God would heal me. Baffled and frustrated, the doctor required that I sign a release in front of a nurse, stating that I understood the risk and would not hold the doctor or hospital responsible for what was perceived as a ‘death wish.’ The release statement that was signed is included in the book. I asked a minister to anoint me, and I do know that he called my parents to report the circumstances. Of course, I prayed more fervently than ever before.”

The nurse at the infirmary contacted a Seventh-day Adventist doctor known to students and faculty. He lanced the infection four nights in a row at his office until nothing more came out. Finally, the absolutely excruciating pain subsided. The skin on his entire nose literally fell off.

Mr. Pack still carries thick scarring from the damage from the infection, marking the first time he recognized God’s direct—and dramatic!—intervention in his life.

“Called in”

Due to his illness, David missed two weeks of work. His immediate supervisor determined that the freshman’s time in the chlorine-laden pool caused the infection and intensified it. David was told that since the illness was work-related, he would be paid for the time he had missed.

Naturally, the young man was relieved to hear that his time away had not jeopardized his job or cost him hours of work.

When he returned to his regular work schedule, the Personnel Department noticed that some hours turned in for pay were from the weeks he had been in the infirmary. The Personnel Manager, a high-ranking minister, with a staff assistant present, called David in for a meeting. These men were under the misinformed impression that this “arrogant” 18-year-old had dodged his assignment to the Landscaping Department and had angled for a job on the faculty. They were convinced that his All-American status made him feel he was “above” customary freshman jobs.

As he sat down to meet with his superiors, David was unsure of what to expect.

“You have been stealing!” the manager charged.

The student was at a loss for words.

“I’ve been stealing?” he said. “What do you mean?”

The manager repeated, “You have been stealing—and I expect you to confess!”

Imagine. He had given up his long-held dreams and athletic ambitions to answer God’s calling and attend Ambassador College—he had just recovered from a life-threatening illness—he had left all family and friends behind—he had turned away from many scholarship offers—and now two men were accusing him of being a thief! David Pack was learning that the path he had taken toward the kingdom of God would be laden with intense trials and tests.

The freshman had no clue to what his accusers were referring. He repeatedly asked them to explain, but they refused to give details of the accusation.

“I do not know what you are talking about,” David said.

“You’ve been stealing! Don’t add lying to what you have done!”

The minister grew even more insistent and impatient, now believing the young man was lying to cover up his presumed theft.

The freshman burst into tears as he feverishly racked his brain for what they could possibly be talking about—yet he could come to no conclusion. The last thing on his mind would be stealing from anyone! In fact, he had been so conscious about honesty with finances and tithing that, during his last summer in Lima, he had unnecessarily penalized himself for a perceived slight to God’s Work in tithing.

Mr. Pack recounted the story:

“While working back home as a lifeguard, I earned $571.42. Because of what happened, I have never forgotten the exact amount I earned in my last summer at home. That summer was the first time since learning the truth that I was able to tithe. I was excited to apply God’s financial principles. I carefully saved my tithes in an envelope, intending to pay them when I arrived in Pasadena. I did not yet understand that the funds should have been sent to Headquarters as I earned them.

“A few days after arriving on campus, I had not yet turned in my tithes. I happened to begin a personal Bible study on tithing, and came across several passages in the Old Testament. I was appalled at what I thought was an apparent misappropriation of God’s tithes. So I gave an extra 20 percent of the part thought to have been ‘stolen.’”

His study took him to Leviticus 27:31: “If a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.” David did not realize the passage was referring to borrowing from second tithe. Fearing he had stolen from God by merely delaying his tithe payment, he carefully computed the penalty for his infraction. He “docked” himself by immediately turning in $57.14—the tithe—plus an additional $11.43!—20 percent more than the tithe. Horrified at the thought he may have sinned, David erred on the side of paying too much, rather than too little. He had acted with good intentions (though he later came to understand that he had misinterpreted the scripture). This was mere weeks before the confrontation.

Now that he was charged with being “a thief and a liar,” he sat before his accusers wondering what he could have inadvertently stolen or taken.

Finally, the Personnel Manager offered a vague clue. “Well…it has to do with when you were sick,” he said, still leaving out any detail.

Confusion had entered when David had turned in the missed hours as regular payroll instead of filing the required worker’s compensation claim. No one had given him any instruction on how he should have proceeded, and he had neither heard the term before nor been told about it. He had simply been told, “You will be paid for the time you missed.”

Naturally, new students generally possess little real job experience. Few teenagers would know of workers’ compensation, or the rules and regulations accompanying it. David mistakenly believed he should just “turn in his hours for time missed.”

The minister eventually ended the meeting with no further comment.

Confused, and unsure of what he had done wrong, as well as uncertain of how to proceed, a shaken freshman left the office—without specific instructions of what to do next.

This incident became just one of many painful examples in which a young student’s eyes would slowly open to the realization that some in the Church were far from Christian in the most basic conduct, and could even be vengeful—with an innocent person.

Two weeks later, the terrible infection returned, this time surfacing in the young man’s throat, which swelled almost completely shut. God, however, intervened once again. After another torturous battle, David recovered, able again to swallow normally.

Seeking Baptism

Contracting an illness that twice threatened his life—and then God healing him two times—deeply sobered the young man. The intervention had been a powerful faith-builder. He set his mind to press forward spiritually. He began an intensive study of baptism. On what happened to be his 19th birthday in December 1967, he went for counsel.

The minister said he was “not quite ready” to be baptized, and offered some points to think about. He counseled the young student to slow down and dedicate additional time to deep repentance, to ensure he truly understood the gravity of the decision from a more personal and less academic perspective. The minister explained that God was using recent events to knock him down, adding that God cannot humble an individual, but He can provide circumstances and trials from which one can learn humility, and humble himself.

Everyone who comes to repentance and goes through the process of conversion has much to learn from his past mistakes. As is common, there are personal characteristics a teenager simply cannot fully see by himself, and will not for perhaps years. But other people can see them. Mr. Pack said of that time in his life:

“Besides being just 19 years old, my childhood focus on knowledge and logic got in the way of a deep visceral understanding of real repentance. The minister wanted me to be less ‘academic’ in approach to conversion—able to more than just quote relevant scriptures—and to reflect that I was ‘broken up’ about my human nature more than I was evidencing.

“In this regard, certain ministers really helped me—they taught me. There is no doubt of this. Perhaps they saw I was a driven young man. Several did acknowledge this to me, and perhaps this was a reason they sincerely wanted to help. When you think about it, this is the biggest reward that teachers get. I certainly did want to learn, and as much and as fast as possible.”

After intense Bible study and self-examination, the zealous young man returned to counsel a week later.

The minister asked, “Do you see vanity in yourself? How about jealousy, lust and greed? Do you see envy, resentment, hatred, pride, anger and the deceitfulness of the human heart?”

Through continued counseling, “counting the cost” and coming to more deeply understand the decision, David Pack was baptized December 14, 1967.

Olympic Training

In February 1968, Dr. Lochner summoned David to his office and told the freshman that leaders at Headquarters wanted him to resume the intense swimming training he had done prior to coming to Ambassador, and to prepare to qualify for and to compete in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

The Games are traditionally held during the summer months, but this was not possible in the blazing heat of central Mexico. Instead, the Olympic Committee rescheduled them for early fall—providing David with eight full months in which to prepare. But in order to recapture his former competitive level, and qualify for the United States swim team at the Olympic trials, he needed to start training immediately.

The freshman was not looking forward to revisiting the grueling routine he had left behind almost a year earlier. With his life now completely redirected, the focus was on receiving an Ambassador College education. Baptized, he was beginning to make strides spiritually and socially, and had enjoyed the now five months of campus life—without the burden of a near-torturous schedule of competitive swim training.

Although honored, David told Dr. Lochner he did not mind giving swimming instruction, but preferred to leave competition in the past. After 14 years and 7,000 miles in the water, and in many ways underwater, he wanted to focus on his college life above the surface.

Dr. Lochner emphasized that many senior figures in the Work wanted the freshman to compete in the Olympics—including (he said) Mr. Herbert Armstrong, his son and much of the faculty. And there was only a limited timeframe to resume training.

“I was puzzled when I learned that my swimming career might not be over. In my mind, once I chose Ambassador, it was a clear choice to end my career. However, there were two things that I now became aware of: I had not only made at least an impression with some senior ministers, but also with certain other officials at Ambassador College.

“I was unaware that at the time there was a consensus already forming in Pasadena concerning the possible impact my career could have in raising the profile of the Church and college. That this was even thought of as something that could benefit the Work as a whole surprised me. I was told that Mr. Armstrong and other senior leaders believed that my possible participation in the Olympics could bring Ambassador College and the Worldwide Church of God from relative obscurity to being more widely known.

“But I had grave doubts about whether God was in this decision, and whether I was really either fast enough in the first place or had enough time to still get ready.”

David returned to his dormitory to pray and meditate about the situation. He wanted to do as instructed—especially if Mr. Armstrong felt it was the right decision. That would change everything if true.

Virtually everyone on campus seemed to have an opinion about one of their own competing in the Games—and many freely voiced it. Some pressured David to “win an Olympic medal for God” or “Mr. Armstrong” or “Ambassador College” or “the youth of the Church,” etc. A few others, certain prima donna, “big man on campus” types, resented the opportunity before the student, focusing on what they perceived as preferential treatment because of his athletic status.

Conflicted About Training

Regardless of the opinions of others, David thought there were several problems with what he had been asked to do. After days of trying to get comfortable with God’s will, he constructed a list of reasons that pursuing the Olympics might be a bad idea. Armed with this list (still somewhere deep in Mr. Pack’s files today), he returned to the Athletic Department for another meeting with Dr. Lochner.

The first reason against resuming training was how the department requested that the employee restructure his job. Incredibly, the stated plan was for the 19-year-old to reduce his teaching and lifeguard responsibilities, and to count hours spent privately training as payroll hours! (Remember what he had just been through on the matter of being paid for sick leave.) The Olympics were for amateur athletes, yet his superiors wanted to pay David to train—essentially making him a professional athlete—in violation of Olympic rules.

The young man asked how this problem would be rectified.

He was told, “Don’t worry. You’ll still be a lifeguard and sometimes teach a few swimming lessons. But primarily, you’ll practice. Just think of it this way—you’re not a professional in God’s eyes.”

Even to an inexperienced 19-year-old, this logic did not entirely compute. Yet he had been told the ministry was behind it. But did they understand what they were behind?

Another issue was that the Olympics were to be held in the fall, and the dates of the competitive swimming events threatened to overlap with the Feast of Tabernacles. Intent on following God’s laws, David questioned how this apparent conflict could be resolved. How could he keep God’s commanded annual Holy Days and compete at the same time?

In response, he was told that he would be flown from the Squaw Valley Feast site to Mexico City! David was incredulous. Such treatment was usually reserved for Mr. Armstrong and senior evangelists traveling on Church-related business. But Dr. Lochner assured him the plan had already been cleared at the “highest levels.”

When the young athlete expressed concern that some of his events or even other meets before the Olympics might conflict with either the Sabbath or Holy Days. He was told, “God will work it out.”

A final obstacle—which at this point was beginning to seem less important—was that his training was to occur at the college natatorium. Although it was a beautiful facility, the pool was the wrong size—Olympic events were measured in meters, not yards. For anyone considering international competition, training in the correct pool size—50 meters instead of 25 yards long—was an absolute necessity. This objection was also raised.

In light of this, Dr. Lochner (and others?) decided David should begin his training during the spring at the campus natatorium, and then complete it at the University of Southern California pool over the summer.

“Many years later, my wife would remember and tell me that it was announced in a forum or at services in Bricketwood in the spring of 1967 that ‘there was this swimmer who was going to come to the college and make the Church famous,’ as she recalled it. Upon learning this, I wondered if it had been predetermined from the beginning that I would swim again, but that they were going to wait some months to tell me.”

The U.S. Olympic Coach

With all obstacles seemingly “resolved,” the reluctant swimmer believed he had no choice. He complied with the Church’s wishes and resumed the intense physical training he thought was in his past.

Several weeks later, the resurrected career began with a meet in Southern California. Some faculty attended it, including Ted Armstrong. Most students were encouraging, with many saying they prayed for success so that his performances would shine a positive light on the Church. The student went from being a “regular” student to (at least briefly) being identified as “the swimmer.”

In May 1968, after several rigorous months of renewed training and competition, Dr. Lochner once again called for an important meeting. He had exciting news: a workout session was scheduled at the USC natatorium with the United States Olympic swimming coach, Peter Dayland.

David was amazed that a door to the Olympics could actually be opening, but he was still somewhat conflicted about what walking through that door meant.

Tense with nerves and burdened with the pressure that this would be the only chance to follow through on the hopes of so many, he briefly warmed up in the water for Coach Dayland. It was a Friday.

The coach cleared a lane and prepared to time the Ambassador swimmer in a 50-meter sprint. (Many believed that this would be the event where the most realistic shot at securing an Olympic medal existed—if the Olympics had held it. It did not appear until 1984.)

After the sprint, Coach Dayland calmly pointed at the entire French Olympic Team (who were in America and happened to be training in the adjacent lanes). David had “just beaten the times of their best swimmers with almost no warm-up,” he commented.

The coach smiled broadly, shook the young man’s hand and welcomed him to return 10 days later, on a Monday, to train for the U.S. Olympic trials. This would occur after finishing final exams, which would begin three days later.

Another Personnel Department Conflict

David returned to campus and received a message that the Personnel Manager wanted to meet with him again—immediately! At their last meeting, the man was somewhat calm. This time, he was visibly angry as David walked into the office. Two witnesses were even brought in.

“Now, when I called you in last December, I told you to resolve this situation,” he said. “You still haven’t! You lied to us and stole! I could have you thrown out of college right now.”

Horrified, David was still unaware of how the situation had been improperly handled. The manager seemed so determined to “convict” him that he still refused to explain exactly what had been done incorrectly.

As penalty for the (supposed) wrongdoing, the young man was required to study every scripture in the Bible that referenced thieves, stealing and repaying debt. The manager instructed him to bring the written study back as soon as possible. Confused, but wanting to obey orders from those over him, David carried out the instruction.

Another Brush with Death

But an unexpected and monumental trial was about to begin.

Beginning Sunday night, and intensifying by Monday morning, the staph infection suddenly returned for the third time—this time in the prostate. Struggling through intense pain all during finals week, while also trying to study, David finished his exams, and then boarded a plane home to Lima. The stewardesses tried to make him comfortable by helping him lie across three seats on an unfilled overnight flight.

Much worse than before, the infection ravaged his whole body, even shutting down bodily functions. As soon as he entered his family home, he collapsed on the couch in agony. This was the first time the Packs had seen their son since returning to college in January—and, thinking the health problems were behind him at that time, they were stunned at what they saw.

“David, what is going on?” his father asked.

But his son could hardly speak. Moments later, he passed out. Jane and Ran were startled to see their child so pale and terribly sick, not yet knowing he had lost an astonishing 32 pounds within the last 84 hours, dropping from a weight of 214 to 182. Seeing that he was dehydrated and in excruciating pain, his parents rushed him to the hospital.

The last thing David said to his father and mother before passing out was that he did not want surgery; he trusted God to heal him.

However, once at the hospital, his parents and doctors determined that surgery was necessary. Hospital attorneys were quietly brought in. The procedure was implemented upon the unconscious student.

Afterward, the young man regained consciousness, thankful to learn that simple surgery had brought success. A much less invasive procedure was able to be performed.

David slowly recovered in his parents’ care. He had to drink a glass of water or juice every 30 minutes for three straight weeks to ensure a complete flushing and healing of the prostate. (It should be noted that staph infections never fully “clear” the body, which is why three infections struck in a seven-month period. Victims usually carry a dormant “colony,” often in a leg bone.) But still another life-and-death battle had taken an intense physical toll.

Meanwhile, those who had expected him to compete in the Olympics realized the severe illness signaled an end to his swimming career. Many were disappointed. All that the Olympic Games would have meant to the Church was gone.

“I am convinced of two things: God knew this training was not going to produce what men thought, but He permitted it for a time so that I could be delivered from it through an intense trial from which I could learn. The only other choice would have been to rebel against what I was asked to do—not an option. I believe God delivered me through more disease that could serve His purpose in teaching me even more about longsuffering. A young, thick-headed student was slowly learning to say, ‘God’s will be done!’”

Lessons Learned

Having spent so much time swimming, Mr. Pack, in retrospect, questioned whether he would do it again if given the choice. While he had learned many valuable lessons through such intense training, he recognized that years “in the water” cannot be retrieved for use “on land.”

At the time, the teenager was not fully able to appreciate the value of the training, but it did serve a dual purpose: it had built within him an intense drive and determination to succeed.

The focused training had prevented him from participating in basketball, football, sledding, ice-skating and recreational activities during his latter high school years. David, along with his friends and family, accepted this because it was in pursuit of an admirable goal. And the time devoted to swimming had kept the teen from many of the temptations and vices of adolescence.

The grueling routine also toughened David mentally. His mother’s insistence on applying logic and thorough analysis, coupled with his father’s admonishment that decisions should be faced “with your shoulders squared and your chin up,” prepared him for adversity and the extremely difficult years to come.

“I was not a superstar athlete. I had a certain amount of ability, but it was through driving myself that milestones were reached. There were others with plenty of ability, and I knew this, but they would not pay the price to achieve. Still, on balance, would I do it again? It is good that I do not have to make this choice.”

Young David counted the days until he would fly back to California, similar to the anticipation he felt the previous summer. Relieved that his briefly renewed swimming career was over, he looked forward to returning to campus life at Ambassador.

Summer Educational Program

Instead of immediately returning to college, David was supposed to fly directly to Orr, Minnesota, to teach swimming and water polo at the Church’s Summer Educational Program (S.E.P.). A mistake in communication brought him to Pasadena where he learned that he was to immediately board a plane for Minnesota.

The annual Church youth camp was held in three successive sessions during the summer. At its pinnacle, it was considered one of the finest in the world. By the mid 1980s, S.E.P. was held at three camps in North America, with additional locations in New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, France and elsewhere.

International ministers flew to the camps to instruct staff and teens, and Ambassador students served as camp counselors, athletic coaches and staff, providing them with unparalleled leadership training. Spending the summer at camp in Minnesota was one of the best experiences a college student could have. There, all endeavored to live God’s Way, surrounded by people of like minds in a picturesque, secluded setting.

It was a wonderful summer for the now sophomore. While it started badly, it ended as one of the great adventures that he had experienced to that point. Northern Minnesota is a place of almost unparalleled beauty, although the joke in camp was that the huge, swarming mosquitoes were actually the “state bird.” It was also there that David saw for the first time in the wild full grown black bears—scavengers looking to rummage through camp garbage!

It was at S.E.P. that David rode a horse again for the first time since age nine. Recall the early misadventure. This time it was on a long trail with a saddle that was too small. It took the skin off his back, and created a large sore just below the beltline. (But after his first two unsuccessful attempts at horseback riding, there were many other times he enjoyed riding horses. He often rode while in Rockford, Illinois, and later on mountain trails and galloping through fields. His brother has owned horses for a number of years. Although Mr. Pack never took riding lessons, he learned as he went. He certainly enjoyed the experience on many occasions, including some wild races. Probably enough said.)

Though summer camp was a wonderful experience, it was not without trying circumstances.

Two Rescues—at the Same Time!

The young swimming staff was to teach both beginners and advanced swimmers. David instructed a group of “beginner” boys to jump into Pelican Lake and do “20 bobs” in the water in order to get used to the idea of being in the water. One boy rashly jumped into the water and immediately sank, with only a hand appearing above the dark surface, waving for help. The camper had neglected to tell anyone he could not swim. The beckoning hand was a strange sight.

David shouted to his supervisor, who stood on the dock, and then dove into the lake. Midair, he realized his glasses were still on. He snatched them off and threw them toward the dock, before splashing into the lake. He then swam to the struggling boy and hauled him to safety.

As the instructor pulled the teenager toward the dock, the supervisor yelled, “Dave, there’s another one in trouble over there!”

A distance away, a second boy floundered in the water, on the deeper side of the large swimming area. David feared that if the second boy went under in the murky water, he would be unable to locate him.

Pulling the first boy to safety, David yelled to the supervisor, “Can you get the other boy?”

“No,” the man shouted, “You get him!”

Amazingly, the supervisor—wearing a swimsuit—did not want to get wet!

David pushed the first boy onto the dock, and sprinted across the swimming area to the other boy, returning him to safety.

In all of his years lifeguarding, it had only been necessary for him to assist one other person, before or since. So it was rewarding to assist two boys in trouble at the same time. But the instructor’s lazy selfishness sent its own message.

Tough Crossroads

Along with gaining teaching experience, S.E.P. provided opportunities to develop socially and to practice leadership skills. The Church’s summer camp also afforded David, through healthful living and physical activity, the time and environment necessary to fully regain his strength and recover from the staph infection. He wanted to return to Pasadena healthy, brimming with vigor and ready for another year. The young counselor may have never eaten so much as he did at the camp, more than a little because he still had to put so much weight back on.

Toward the end of camp, one of the older staff members noticed David working on the Bible study assignment regarding stealing and debt repayment. The story of the project soon made its way to Headquarters. Upon returning to Pasadena, the young man rushed to Personnel to deliver the paper. Surprisingly, the previously angry and accusative department head calmly told him not to worry about turning it in. Apparently, the dispute with Personnel had been resolved; someone had intervened on Mr. Pack’s behalf.

He never learned who it was.

But it had finally become clear that a reputation as an All-American athlete could ruffle feathers.

David was determined to never again accept anything remotely resembling preferential treatment. It came at too high a price. He decided that his only course of action was to seek a transfer from the faculty position as quickly as possible, and request an entirely new assignment. Although it was difficult to give up something so enjoyable—and frankly it was a much easier work assignment than almost all other freshman experienced—he decided it was the right thing to do. He wanted to work his way up the ladder of opportunity for increased service like everyone else.

In a sense, this was another application for his father’s advice: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

David resolved to never again take the path of least resistance. From this point forward, whenever he faced a challenge, instead of looking for the easy way out, he forced himself to ask, What am I supposed to learn from this experience? He was no longer the naïve boy who had first walked onto campus. His eyes were beginning to open to the pulls and influences of human nature that existed—even at God’s college and Church Headquarters, including in himself.

After having been near death several times, yet healed when he placed faith in God’s intervention, the young student knew God’s hand was guiding events in his life, but down a path completely unknown.

“I realized looking back that I could not have known the vortex that my student career would pull me into. In fairness to certain ones in Pasadena, they probably had not seen someone of a similar background come to college. I must have been a kind of novelty. But I learned deeply about the many angles of politics and resentment against me for a (swimming) career I had not wanted to ever revisit, but had been forced back into. Yet others wanted to use a resurrected sports career for obvious personal advantage. It was strange. But I did feel vindicated about my prior feelings toward the ‘you must swim again’ project when my career finally ended as it did.”

By the end of the summer, David returned from Minnesota to Pasadena determined to begin a completely new Ambassador College experience.

Chapter Eleven – Catching Fire

One of the first priorities at the beginning of David’s sophomore year was finding a different job. In deciding to avoid the appearance of receiving preferential treatment, he felt that by taking a lesser job, others on campus, including certain members of the Physical Education faculty, would see he was making every effort to be a regular student—not some “prima donna star athlete,” as some had apparently perceived him.

In a difficult, tearful discussion, David sought out Dr. Lochner and requested to be reassigned. Though met with some resistance, the young man’s request was granted.

Ironically, there were still a few, such as the Personnel Manager, who saw David’s request as an opportunity to finally “humble” a perceived attitude problem.

Personnel assigned the sophomore to interview for one of the most physically demanding jobs on campus: moving furniture for the Shipping and Receiving Department, and packaging large shipments that were too big for the Mailing Department. Literally, the only question his prospective manager asked in the interview was whether he had “a strong back.”

A friend confirmed that Personnel now intended to punish David by placing him on the lowest rung of the employment ladder (they were unaware he had already determined he would voluntarily start from the bottom). At the same time, a number of other sophomores were promoted to “more important” jobs, as the student body understood them to be. As far as David was concerned, he had already received his “promotion” from the moment he had arrived on campus.

Shipping and Receiving

David’s new job in the Shipping and Receiving Department involved hours of physical labor, usually moving boxes and furniture; he sometimes drove a forklift. The sophomore found his coworkers to be pleasant, and considered himself privileged to have a cheerful, hardworking supervisor who encouraged a strong work ethic.

Working in Shipping and Receiving turned out to be his second favorite job during all four years at Ambassador. Department duties included wrapping, stuffing, taping and packaging boxes for large shipments. The department continually received requisitions for things they needed to ship—a special package, international shipments of literature or a big shipment of a family’s entire furnishings loaded onto the Church’s tractor-trailer/“18-wheeler”—to help ministers who had been transferred across the United States.

Whenever ministers arrived for one-year sabbaticals in Pasadena, David and his coworkers unloaded their belongings. And when ministers left the Sabbatical Program, the movers would load their possessions back on a truck headed to the new transfer destination.

Certain individuals in the Personnel Department may have intended this to be a humbling job, but the sophomore student thoroughly enjoyed the work, partly because of his particular fellow employees, and God used the position to bless him. The months spent there were productive, and David built lasting friendships among his coworkers.

“I saw this as my third job since coming to college, with the S.E.P. position the second one. I wanted as much broadening experience as I could possibly get. This pattern of different jobs—both summer and academic year—would continue all through college. While I was supposed to be feeling discouragement and being ‘humbled,’ the opposite was occurring.”

Black Widow Spiders

Besides the constant movement of goods and furniture, the Shipping and Receiving Department was not without excitement. One day when some of its employees were locking the 10-foot high, ivy-covered exterior gate of the complex, a spider’s web was spotted within the swinging gate.

Someone asked, “What type of spider is that?” Another saw the red hourglass marking on the underside on the small spider and said, “That’s a black widow! They’re poisonous!”

Someone suggested capturing it, so it was put into a one-gallon glass jug and taken inside the warehouse to be kept as an on-the-job “pet.” It was learned some time after that the spider was pregnant—and soon approximately 100 baby spiders were scrambling about within the jug.

Not long after, someone accidentally knocked the jug off the shelf. It crashed onto the concrete floor and shattered—releasing all of the baby spiders to scurry all over the floor! The workers ran about, stomping and killing them, until the last trace of movement was gone.

Having a black widow for a pet proved not to be the best idea.

“It was quite a moment. I have never stomped and swatted so hard and fast in my life. For weeks after, we were watching all the areas near the ‘main bench’ where we worked for little spiders that had survived and grown bigger. Eventually we were sure they were all dead or gone.”

Catching Fire

David’s college career came to a crossroads. Now that he knew more about college life, he saw more clearly what he wanted to achieve.

With his swimming career behind him, David’s sophomore year began on a new path. He took the self-motivation that had led to sports success, and refocused it, throwing himself into his studies and on improving his speaking ability. He diligently employed what his father had long taught: “You put your head down and use industry!” This, coincidentally, was similar to the fourth of Mr. Armstrong’s “Seven Laws of Success”—DRIVE!

That year, the student’s early ministerial training began. Inspired by Mr. Armstrong’s autobiography, he decided to establish a habit of waking much earlier each morning. Instead of rising more lazily within the range of 6:00 to 6:30 a.m., he disciplined himself to rise at exactly 5:00 a.m. each day. This was to better stay on top of transferring notes to his Bible, as well as working on himself—a greater need that second-year students were encouraged to develop by all their instructors. He used the early hours of the morning to study the Bible for an hour and a half every day, and then going on to work on projecting his voice in the Gymnasium at about 6:30.

Partly to compensate for low grades received the previous year due to his extensive illness during finals week, the sophomore wrote a number of extra-credit papers and authored an extensive summary, chapter by chapter by chapter, of every one of the Major and Minor Prophets in the Old Testament.

“I made the decision not to go to any of my instructors to ask them for leniency on my very bad marks on the finals at the end of my freshman year. This was not the way my father had taught me. Everyone knew I was very sick, and I figured if they wanted to give me some kind of break on my grades they would have done it. At least I found that I no longer had to take German class.”

The obvious was before him: the need to work extremely hard to improve his overall grade-point average over the next three years. (Diligent study would eventually pay off, resulting in much higher marks for his last three years of college, especially the sophomore year.)

Drive and Determination

When the young man was not focusing on his classes, he turned to a wide variety of recreational pursuits, including basketball. Everyone expected the 6’7” student to play basketball. In fact, he had spent his first year playing on the freshman intramural basketball team, though he mostly sat on the bench.

David had spent his life building a physique for swimming, a muscle “elongation” sport, while ball-oriented sports are muscle “contraction” activities, such as impact-and-explosion sports like basketball, racquetball and baseball. Although in the best physical shape of his life, the sophomore was not in any condition to play basketball. Despite his height, he was barely able to touch the rim of the basket his freshman year, even with a running start. This was pitiful—and very, very embarrassing!

Competitive drive spurred him to remedy this. He started by working on leg strength, performing 100 one-legged full squats with each leg every day until his “vertical leap” improved to 34 inches. The future “basketball player” was determined to be able to dunk a ball! Within months, he had pushed so hard that he could easily do this with two hands, and from a standstill.

Friends were amazed at his persistence to be the best. He was told, “Dave, I have never seen someone with so much desire to succeed at absolutely everything.”

Determination allowed him to achieve success, but it also took a physical toll on his body. The one-legged squats were to bring left knee surgery on destroyed cartilage 15 years later.

Part of David’s new-found interest in basketball also stemmed from the coincidence that three of his classmates were also tall. In fact, he was only the fourth tallest among them. The one who would be his closest friend at Ambassador College for four years was over 6’9”. One of his other friends was 6’9 1/2”, and another was 6’7 1/2”—and all of these were in a class of less than 150 students, half of whom were women.

Other college students became accustomed to seeing the four “giants” around campus, and joked about having wandered into the “Sequoia National Forest.” A number of the faculty gave them the nickname of the “Nephilim,” referencing the pre-Noachian-Flood giants. Mr. Pack likes to explain that “We should have been called the Rephaim, who were giants in stature, not giants in strength as were the Nephilim.”

Halfway through his freshman year, David went from beginner level to being a starter on the intramural team. He was even selected for the annual All-Star team.

But his zeal was not limited to scholastics, sports and recreation. Another example was evidenced on a study date with a young lady student. He was amazed to learn that she had not yet read all of the literature that the Church published—and made a point of telling her so. Sometimes, other students found this misdirected zeal strange—or worse, offensive.

Mr. Pack has come to realize that early in his Ambassador College experience he was somewhat unbalanced. Today he understands why:

“I had to learn that just because all of my fellow students didn’t approach every task, assignment and opportunity with the same intensity that I carried over from my swimming career, it was not necessarily an indication that they were lackadaisical. In some regards, I was at least a little bit unbalanced at times when it came to sports. I only knew one way to go—overdo it!”

“However, in retrospect, it is clear that most students did not take things as seriously as they should have. In order to come to Ambassador College, I had to give up absolutely everything—friends, college scholarships, and at one point, it seemed like my family—whereas in many cases other students gave up practically nothing. To many who grew up in the Church, with their family and friends also attending, coming to Ambassador College was an easy decision—the path of least resistance. They didn’t necessarily see it as anything special. I did. I remember vividly when I learned that I had been accepted—and the feeling of unparalleled exhilaration.

“I believe deeply that this gratitude affected the entirety of my Ambassador College experience in a positive way.”

Almost every instruction that his teachers and the ministry uttered was taken literally—almost as a direct order, not merely a recommendation. When an instructor said, “Start preparing a sermonette notebook now, because someday God could use you in the ministry,” the sophomore did so. When a minister said to keep a prayer notebook or visit the sick—he did it! Taking simple instructions as clear commands, and not as suggestions, served in a multitude of ways, helping the young man to learn and grow as a Christian.

Stolen Hairspray

The day-to-day training at Ambassador College across a wide array of activities was a very broadening experience, and David could see improvement in his personality and character development as he diligently sought to make the most out of every AC experience. (Mr. Pack has stated that Mr. Armstrong “certainly knew what he was doing when he designed the four-year, liberal arts, lots-of-diverse-activities approach to training leaders.”)

But not every student was of this mindset. Sometimes this included those whose parents held high offices in the Church. Several times David noted a clear double standard for well-known, high-ranking ministers, which was also extended to their friends and family members. In fact, many saw this to one degree or another. Instead of having enthusiasm for God’s Work, a few students used their connections to put forth less effort or get themselves out of trouble, as well as positioning themselves to be chosen for additional opportunities solely because of skillful political maneuvering.

Early in David’s junior year, a small incident seared this reality into his mind. One day while rummaging through his personal care products, the young man could not find his hairspray. Several days later, he saw a dorm-mate (the son of a minister) in that student’s dorm room spraying his hair with the missing item.

He asked, “What are you doing with my hairspray?”

“What do you mean?” the student retorted. “This is my hairspray.”

“Look on the label,” David said, “It says, ‘11th Hour Hairspray, made in Lima, Ohio.’” The container happened to be of a distinctive brand, personally manufactured by Ran Pack, who at the time owned a successful wig and hair products company.

Grudgingly, the young thief gave back the item, yet acted as if he had done nothing wrong.

David went to the Dean’s Office to report the incident. At the time, stealing had become a small problem on campus and students were to make known what they observed. Fellow students had been expelled for similar episodes of theft. The value of the item was inconsequential—it was the commandment-breaking act itself that was inexcusable.

David came across the campus to the egrets fountains with the Dean at his side, and relayed the details of what had happened. As they walked, they encountered the offending freshman.

The Dean confronted the boy and asked, “What’s this about you having David’s hairspray? It’s apparently the only one of its kind in captivity [his exact words].”

The young man simply looked down and shrugged his shoulders. He did not offer either excuse or apology. The Dean merely gave the student a mild reprimand and cautioned against repeating the infraction.

David said nothing, but took note: A transgression that meant expulsion for one student could mean a mild scolding for another—it could depend on the student’s last name. This unrepentant thief went on to hold extremely high office.

Disturbing Trend

Favoritism seemed to be a disturbing trend developing at that time, yet it was unknown to Mr. Armstrong. More than 20 years had passed since God had used him to found Ambassador College; by the late 1960s, it had become a much larger campus in physical size—major new buildings were opened every year of David’s four years on campus, with two opening in one year (1969). There were now three campuses, and the student body of each was bigger than just Pasadena had been for many years. The Worldwide Church of God and the Work were growing so large, so fast, it was impossible for the Pastor General to know about every incident, even those that were more important—just as a CEO of a growing international corporation could not be expected to know every detail in every division, department and office in the company.

As time went on, David witnessed more of these incidents of preferential treatment on campus. However, he did not allow bitterness or resentment to fester. Instead, he took these events as reminders that “ministers are not God in the flesh”—as fallible human beings, they make mistakes just like everyone else. This applies to their children as well. But it is also not fair to ministers to expect perfection of them. These early incidents also taught that some did not have their hearts in the Work or their minds yielded to God.

David now had a much more realistic way of viewing things (vastly different from his naïve freshman impression of Ambassador). He now knew that students and ministers were not perfect—and some were far from it.

Accepting this reality was sobering. David promised himself that he would never use small injustices, such as the favoritism he witnessed time and again, as an excuse or reason to leave the Church, get offended or lose sight of the big picture.

“I saw many things, but then I had plenty of things to work on myself, and this made it easier to accept certain frailties in others. I also think God somehow shielded me to some degree from getting bitter during natural opportunities for this. Sometimes naiveté bought me time and space.

“There was a saying about new people entering either the Church or the college: When you first come to Ambassador College, you think that all the students are perfect, but you learn they are not. Then you think that the ministers and faculty must be without sin. Again, you learn that the ministers and faculty are also not perfect. This leaves Mr. Armstrong. Then you realize over time that Mr. Armstrong also makes and admits to mistakes. Finally, you realize only God is perfect. There is a parallel of this for everyone who enters the Church.

“It was the truth that made the Worldwide Church of God Christ’s Church. Think of the corrective letters that the apostle Paul had to write to the Corinthians. If people living there used others in the congregation as their measuring stick, EVERYONE would have left the Church.”

Reflection and Self-examination

Instead of returning home to earn much-needed extra money as his junior year ended, David accepted a temporary job in the spring clearing brush for a reservoir to be built in the Southern California foothills northeast of Pasadena on the edge of the desert. His father had required him, from a young age, to do outside manual labor, so it was not difficult to do it again. There was always value in this kind of hard day’s work—“in all labor there is profit”—and there was money!

Working for a private contractor in the Pasadena congregation, the job required little more than a strong back and willingness to work long Sunday hours in baking 90- to 100-degree weather. His time in Shipping and Receiving was a good conditioner for heavy lifting, manual labor and long hours.

But the job did free one’s mind to organize thoughts. Over two years of Ambassador College were now behind him—or more than half of his time there. In a little over one year would come graduation and the hope of entering service in the Church, possibly the ministry. This was not something to forget at any stage of the academic journey.

Starting in the spring of his sophomore year, he carefully recorded his observations as he went through an intense period of self-examination.

Keeping a Journal

Growing up, David learned the value of keeping a journal. He decided to return to this practice during, through and after his sophomore year, making entries at any point that a life lesson had been learned. This would be helpful if done on a regular basis. Certain entries, which demonstrate exactly how he viewed his Ambassador College training, paint a vivid picture of his mindset at age 20.

Following are just a few excerpts over a short period from David’s journal. Their existence presents an extraordinary insight that few others could look back and appreciate in the same way. They are recorded word for word as they appeared, including punctuation and emphasis:

April 6, 1969: “Where I am put in the Work is ultimately going to be where God wants me, even if temporarily. Christ might allow me to be in a wrong spot because men made a mistake.”

April 10, 1969: “(1) I have learned that no matter how we want it otherwise, change comes very, very slowly. It is a grind-it-out, inch-by-inch process. (2) I have learned that whenever a man has a weakness, God will someday, somewhere, challenge, once, twice or more, that weakness in order that the man overcome it. Particularly in the case where a man thinks he has a ‘natural strength of character.’”

April 12, 1969: “I have learned that to learn lessons, one must be attuned to lessons and be constantly looking for them.”

April 21, 1969: “I am slowly looking to take things easier in general when I hear them. Chances are, few things are as urgent as I seem to make them. Spiritually ‘wringing my hands’ usually does nothing more than alarm me.”

May 7, 1969: “I am learning that before God will ever put a man in a position where he rules or guides others, that man has to have learned how to rule himself.”

May 10, 1969: “I have learned that no matter how clear a sermon, forum or lecture is when I heard it, it will flow right out of my mind unless I force myself to create some key to remember it.”

May 14, 1969: “I am seeing more and more that the Work of God is plainly and simply people. No phase of it can be separated from people. There is no room for selfish introverts in the Worldwide Church of God. I am not saying I was one, because I wasn’t, but whenever that tendency wants to take hold, try to nip it in the bud.”

June 1, 1969: “(1) I have learned that the time for action is NOW on whatever is planned and that always being in the process of waiting for something and living accidentally will never work in the end. (2) Success on the job emotionally comes from forcing myself to look ahead and taking a grip on myself. (3) Life must not be a series of ‘not-quites.’”

June 12, 1969: “(1) I am only worth as much as I can give to and help others. (2) I must search for opportunities to help and serve others and not wait for them. (3) My Bible study is only as effective as it helps me to serve and help others. (4) I have learned that real love is breaking up ‘my schedule’ to take time for others when I see they need it or if they have asked for it.”

June 19, 1969: “(1) I am seeing that ‘the grass will always look greener at the other job’ until I get there and look back. (2) I have learned that when Satan robs a Christian, he is too smart to steal a dollar so he steals a dime 10 times because he knows that (A) it is easier, (B) he has all the time in the world, literally, and, (C) in the end, he still has your dollar. Although I mean this in terms of prayer and meditation, it can apply to any area of spiritual character development one could name. (3) I have come to see that the area I work in, study in, sleep in, eat in, etc. forms my own little stewardship over which I shall one day be called into account. As God expands my stewardship to a greater realm of control, I shall also be held accountable for this. (4) I am reading autobiographies now. I am coming to see that everything in the world, in the Church and everything under heaven, revolves around character and the necessity of having it. The only difference between us and ‘them’ though is that we orient it toward God to be used in His service not toward ourselves to be used in getting ourselves ahead. Yet character toward God will get us ahead because God will get us ahead. (5) I have come to see that true conversion and a willing attitude are inexorably bound one to another.”

June 20, 1969: “Learn to follow the beaten trail in the Work and don’t try to be a trailblazer. It occurs to me that the well-beaten trail up a mountain or within a department has considered most all other ways. Learn to sit on a new idea while examining it in light of why the old path was put where it was. Changes should be evolutionary not revolutionary.”

June 25, 1969: “(1) Solomon was right when he said do everything with our might. At work I notice how time flies when doing a harder but faster moving job like bagging, sorting, etc. A bigger principle to see though is that I need to concentrate, play ball, study, pray, converse, work, read and think with my might! Surely they all hold true and Solomon said, ‘Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might’ (Ecc. 9:10). (2) Since the fear of the Lord is to hate evil, and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil, and we are told to choose the fear of the Lord, then the only way to hate and leave evil (sin) is to pray for God to grant us this hatred in light of our mind hating God’s Law and loving the pleasures of sin. Am I choosing the fear of the Lord and praying to see the ugliness of sin?”

July 28, 1969: “What may be funny to me may be very serious to the other person. Laughing at someone with a cutting, bitter, sarcastic, belittling intent would of course always be wrong, but even laughing with them if the other person may take it very seriously, what to me is humorous, is wrong. Watching someone else wrestle with what looks like a simple problem can be funny, but he may have cried bitterly in prayer over it. So always ask, ‘How would it affect me if someone laughed and what type of person is this I am dealing with?’”

December 27, 1969: “One can never force another man to learn a lesson or to see a lesson. This is true even if the man wants to see it but God is not yet ready to let him fully, really see it and apply it to himself.”

This short sampling of private journal entries become their own statement about what was going through a young man’s mind as he passed through and beyond his third full year from the time he first began to learn the truth in June 1966.

“I recall keeping the journal, but did not recall having made so many detailed entries until I found it in preparation for the biography.”

Junior Year—Mail Processing and Guided Tours

The intense summer of additional work was over; David’s third year at Ambassador was about to begin. He was transferred from Shipping and Receiving to the Mail Processing Department, where the upperclassman would work for the entirety of his junior year. His new job involved sorting and bagging Plain Truth magazines for mailing, as well as sending out literature requests, and filling other orders. During the late 1960s, the Church mailed over one million issues of The Plain Truth 10 times a year.

“I took great joy in directly assisting in this effort. Of course, it would later help when a Mailing Department had to be established in The Restored Church of God. I enjoyed all but the most monotonous parts of the job. It was doing the Work in the most direct sense.

“Such typically monotonous jobs were usually reserved for underclassmen. It was unusual for a junior to be assigned to this position. I later learned that even after two years had passed, there were certain people in the Personnel Department, and maybe elsewhere, who held me in contempt and who were still trying to ‘humble’ me. Believe me, it was sobering to know that these kinds of things could happen in the Church. But I must admit that I could not yet fully grasp that there were outright carnal minds high in the Work. After all, Mr. Armstrong was not yet seeing this on any large scale, so how would I?

“I came to realize at some point that the intended punishment was actually God giving me a wide variety of jobs as part of early preparation and training for the years ahead. Working in different departments each year, including as I said different jobs each summer, gained me priceless experience. I learned to appreciate how crucial it is that each branch and department of the Work function together smoothly to accomplish God’s purpose.”

Special Opportunity—and a Promotion!

God was guiding the overall process of David’s development and lesson learning. The AC student desired to serve, and had worked hard on continuing to improve in key points of personality.

Despite laboring in a job usually reserved for younger students, apparently David’s growth and training in manners were noticed. Having developed more as a speaker, the Dean’s office also noticed that he carried himself well, and thus selected him for the task of campus tour guide.

This was special.

Many visitors to Headquarters wanted a complete tour of the expanding and Garden-of-Eden-like campus and its award-winning garden landscapes. The college needed guides who could reflect the quality found throughout Ambassador College. This new position was in addition to his job in the Mailing Department.

“It was a high honor to give campus tours to Church members visiting Headquarters from outlying areas or to people in the community who were curious about the ‘beautiful college on the hill.’ Most of the few tour guides chosen were seniors, and I was a junior, so I found that God could advance me in any time or way that He wished.

“I loved to give campus tours. I have described myself as having ‘come out of retirement’ today upon being able to give them again at times at our Headquarter office complex. I did everything in my power to make myself available for tours back then because I enjoyed it so much more than my regular job, or any job that I held at Ambassador. I made a point of telling the receptionists at the Hall of Administration to try to call me first whenever they needed a guide.

“Taking our staff on a Pasadena campus tour in March 2008 was like old times. I am still like the retired firehorse who smells smoke and wishes he could get to the fire. I wish we could make such a tour a field trip in the future with every incoming student class.

“In any event, the exposure and experience I gained giving tours was almost without end.”

Strangely, most other students did not seem to enjoy the interaction of such tours, or having to race back to their dorms from work or after class in the heat to put on a tie in order to be presentable for the tour.

During his junior and senior years, David never turned down leading visitors on a tour of Ambassador College.

“Opportunity” Presented

Early or midway through his junior year, David was called in for yet another meeting with the head of the Personnel Department—the same man who had, two years earlier, falsely accused him of stealing. Wary of what would come next, the junior entered the manager’s office, wondering about the purpose of the meeting.

“We have a special opportunity for you,” the stone-faced manager said. “Are you a man who is interested in special opportunities?”

“Well, sir,” David said, “it depends on what the opportunity is.” Understandably, his answer was guarded.

The man frowned. “Don’t you have faith?” he said.

He played the same cat-and-mouse game from previous meetings. His goal was to teach the junior a lesson and make him uncomfortable in the process.

After pausing, David said, “Well…yes sir, I have faith.”

“We have a job opportunity for you that could lead to major advancement…”

Still hesitant, David answered, “Well sir, that’s wonderful. Thank you. What is it?”

“Don’t you trust God’s government?” the man questioned. “I’m surprised you would even ask. Aren’t you willing to step out in faith and take the job we are going to offer you?”

“May I not have an idea of what it entails before I respond?”

Leaning back in his chair, the head of Personnel said, “No! Now it’s too late. The opportunity is gone. You obviously have no faith in the government of God.” He acted triumphant.

“However,” he continued, “now that you have lost the opportunity due to your lack of faith, I want you to think about what you have missed out on—we were preparing to train you to take over and run the entire campus Security Department.”

“Supposed to be saddened, boy was I relieved. The position would have led toward physical responsibility instead of spiritual growth and opportunity—the primary reason I had come to Ambassador. I recalled the conversation with my first pastor, back in Ohio, who had told me there was nothing wrong with desiring the work of a minister. I have never been so glad that I ‘lacked faith’!”

No “Yellow Pencils”

By the third year of school, anyone paying attention appreciated the carefully planned, well-structured way of life that Ambassador College offered. The organization and order that Mr. Armstrong had meticulously implemented since the beginning of the school in 1947 gave every student opportunity to build the right foundation for a successful future based on the Word of God.

Nevertheless, most or all administrators, as would have all the students, recognized that the system should not stamp out clones, but that it should allow for the natural development of individual people who were in every case unique.

“We’re not yellow pencils in a box,” they said. “We shouldn’t let the college force us to all be the same.”

Up to a certain point, that was true. Each student was unique from another. Each personality and background was seen to add to the diverse cultural environment that was Ambassador College.

However, it was Mr. Armstrong’s goal that all students who graduated from the college be identical in one way: they were to have the exact same foundation of truth, and thoroughly understand the Work and government of God, and in the same way. After students graduated, Mr. Armstrong wanted students to understand God’s purpose for their lives—and be able to teach such critical understanding to others.

In a way, Ambassador College was a production facility for ministers and other leaders and specialists who would eventually participate in the Work of God. Its efficiency worked well in training effective leaders in the Church who could help assist God’s flock or become administrators at Headquarters.

After having attended secular high schools, many students were thrilled to receive the unique and intense education AC provided. David was one of them. Many did want to unlearn error and become effective people.

Encountering a King

One day while walking through Grove Terrace, the large men’s dormitory on campus, the young man opened a door—and, to his surprise, found he was holding it for Mr. Armstrong and King Leopold III of Belgium. The Pastor General was giving the king a personal tour of God’s college. A couple of the king’s bodyguards were following them.

Both Mr. Armstrong and King Leopold kindly acknowledged the student with a slight nod, and continued walking. It was the first time David had been in the presence of a king. A thought raced through his mind: An apostle and a king just walked past me one foot away!

Although it was a seemingly small event at the time, the brief encounter left a strong and lasting impression upon the young man. It motivated him to strive to live by Proverbs 22:29: “See you a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings.” Mr. Armstrong was fulfilling this.

The encounter cemented into his mind the reason God expects quality from His servants, which is why Ambassador maintained such high standards of quality in everything. Over the years, several heads of state would walk its grounds, events Mr. Armstrong could have never known when he began requiring quality in all aspects of the Work. One never knows what can happen when God’s standards are maintained.

From this and other seemingly small experiences, David learned that, whether giving a tour, visiting ministers or Church members, or stuffing envelopes in the Mailing Department, one must always be prepared. Who would expect to run into the Pastor General and a king?

Still unsure of the future, David hoped God had plans for him upon graduation. He continued with the mundane Mailing Department job, but he did not stay in this position for long.

“Drive” Pays Off

As his junior year ended, David strongly desired to go into the field. He hoped to work with brethren in a local congregation. Possible candidates for the ministry were usually sent into the field as ministerial assistants during the summer prior to their senior year. But that summer, the Church’s financial condition prevented this from happening.

In 1970, the Worldwide Church of God entered a year of financial austerity. It was the first time in at least recent memory that the Work could not afford to send any students for summer assignments.

“I was undeterred. I contacted the minister who had interviewed me three years earlier for acceptance to the college. He was now a senior pastor in Indianapolis, Indiana. I wrote this man, asking if it would be acceptable to serve as his ministerial assistant over the summer on the conditions that I could financially support myself and had received approval from Headquarters.”

Several long weeks later, the eager young man received a reply, a letter approving his idea. He rushed to the Dean’s Office and asked, “If the Work could afford to send out assistants this summer, would I have been on the list to go?”

The Dean of Students, who was privy to who would have been sent out, answered, “Well…yes, you were on the list.”

“Well, what if I could find a way to pay my own way, could I still go?” David explained that, since his father had taught him how to paint professionally, he was confident he could support himself while on assignment by painting houses.

This surprised the administrator, but he said, “Yes, you could go. Not only would we allow it, but it’s a good idea!”

Summer Assistant!

At the end of the school year, the exuberant student traveled to Indianapolis and served there for nine weeks as a ministerial assistant. David had intended to paint houses all summer in order to support himself—but, remarkably, he made enough money in just three very, very long days to cover all expenses for the entire summer.

A local member who lived in Kokomo, Indiana, hired him and paid him well enough to make this possible. David located a rooming house in north Indianapolis, whose owner happened to have a 65-cc Honda motorbike that the young ministerial assistant could borrow in order to make the 60-mile roundtrip commute to Kokomo.

The money David earned enabled him to devote full-time hours as an assistant. That summer, he gave his first two sermonettes, did paperwork, visited the brethren and prospective members with the pastor and associate pastor, observed planning a picnic, attended his first deacon and elder meeting, observed baptismal counseling—and traveled with the pastor on vacation to Arkansas.

The summer of 1970 was the first time a student had gone into a summer assignment and paid his own way. The blessings were numerous, some immediately evident and others to be seen later.

“I recall that my very first sermonette was to explain the meaning of Romans 1:17, and what it means for a Christian to go from ‘faith to faith.’

“I absolutely loved the experience of serving in Indianapolis, Indiana. The pastor was the same one who had sent me to Ambassador College. He was a very kind, pleasant man and always tried to include me with his family. How many people would take a 21-year-old single man on vacation with them?—and it was a fantastic vacation.

“I was able to do all the kinds of things that are common to the field ministry, of course from an observing assistant’s point of view. But this set the stage for my senior year. I had a vision. It came from a clear picture in my mind of what I had now done—and absolutely wanted to do again. I could, in a sense, see the rest of my life before me—if I continued to grow and if I got a good evaluation, and, most important, if it became absolutely evident that this is where God wanted me to be.”

The Personnel Department would soon be instructed to promote David to opening and reading mail, that is, mail containing money. These can be letters of a more spiritual nature, the kind those in training for the ministry would usually handle.

After having worked in so many college positions, this was the first time in three years that David felt he was truly on a clear track. He desired to be used in Christ’s ministry, but was still uncertain of exactly what God might have in mind. Then there was the matter of the Church’s finances, as well as whether God would provide a wife.

Chapter Twelve – Senior Year—New Focus

David’s senior year had finally arrived. While there were still many questions, there were also beginning to be some answers.

When he first arrived at Ambassador, David worked to overcome a lack of confidence in social situations. He knew that to be used in God’s Work in any meaningful way—particularly if he entered the ministry or another position of leadership—effective communication would be essential, whether in front of classmates, a couple dozen Ambassador Club members or later audiences of many hundreds or thousands.

All Ambassador College sophomores took second-year Speech, while juniors and seniors participated in Homiletics (commonly referred to as Advanced Public Speaking). In this class, students were given more difficult assignments than the tasks in Ambassador Club. These included delivering sermonettes and advanced research speeches.

Strangely, David was made an Ambassador Club officer in his sophomore year. This was unusual, since many juniors never became officers and some seniors never did. So it provided an early opportunity for extra growth. The responsibility of Club Treasurer included organizing Club dues and giving verbal reports at each week’s meeting. These tasks helped instill in him a greater measure of confidence. But, because most thought he had too much confidence, by his senior year he would only serve as a vice president.

“I was actually thankful that I was never selected as a President. Some men only served as presidents and nothing more, meaning that they had an office for only one year. I had three different offices over a three-year-period. The vice president conducted every third or fourth meeting as the President for the evening, anyway. Besides, so many other opportunities came to me that few others received, I made myself conclude that it was not important. The Psalms make clear that promotion comes from God. God had given me three offices.”

Pasadena Visiting Program

In another happy turn of events, the Dean of Students called him into his office.

“You received an exceptionally good recommendation from the man that you worked for as an assistant over the summer,” he congratulated. A glowing endorsement from the Indiana pastor suggested that Headquarters use the young man in the ministry. David realized immediately that, had the recommendation come in perhaps about three days sooner, he would have finished his college career as a Club president. But never mind.

Headquarters chose David to participate in the Church’s visiting program in Pasadena, partly because of the experience he gained serving a local congregation over the summer. The visiting program involved traveling each Sabbath with ministers or elders to surrounding Southern Californian congregations, and observing as they conducted services, visited widows, anointed brethren and presided at Church activities. (David was also added to the “anointing list,” meaning if local anointings occurred in the Pasadena area congregations, he would be called to participate if his schedule permitted.)

These few seniors regularly checked the list posted in the Student Center to see if they had been selected for the visiting program, but only a few were chosen weekly to take part. However, it was an honor to be on the list.


David was called into the Dean’s office. One of the senior ministers there was a man with whom the senior was well acquainted. He had traveled with him on occasion to outlying congregations. The two men had developed a friendly bond.

David was told that some had commented in a meeting that they had seen positive fruits through the young man’s participation in the program. They believed he had strong potential for the ministry, with the exception of one shortcoming.

“David, we were talking about you and I want you to understand something,” the man said. “Everyone I’ve talked to feels that you’re qualified to go to the field at the end of this year. You’d make a fine minister, but there is one concern that has been expressed. You have been described as self-willed. Remember Titus 1:7.”

The young man felt like the proverbial anvil had fallen out of the sky and landed on him.


“Yes,” the minister replied, but he would not say how many had expressed this concern.

“Now I think you have shown great progress,” the man continued. “Therefore, I want to work with you this last semester, so that when you are evaluated for the ministry at the end of the year, I can say that you are conscious of it, have been working on it, and that I have seen progress.”

David was not sure how to react. He was horrified that, after giving up so much to come to Ambassador College, he could still be exhibiting his own will.

He asked, “Where do you see it and what exactly do I need to change?”

The minister responded kindly, explaining that the whole point of conquering self-will was learning to recognize it through self-examination. He explained that if overcoming this problem were simple, where is the growth?

“The matter should be taken to God,” he advised. “He will make these areas known.”

David left the office uncertain of what to do—but knew he had to do something! He began perhaps the most intense Bible study he had ever undertaken. Parts of it lasted the whole final semester of his senior year.

Today, the back pages of Mr. Pack’s Bible contain many scriptures and detailed notes, titled “SELF-WILL,” similar to those in his journal. They bring to mind the above conversation and the many lessons learned—beginning with a man who cared enough to take the time to explain the problem and how to begin to overcome it.

This constant focus on lesson learning and overcoming all obstacles in the path ahead became extremely important over the decades.

A Wife?

The first semester of a student’s senior year was to move a person closer to completing all of his Ambassador education goals. Each student was to be addressing and completing the necessary finishing touches of a very special training, including pursuing with reasonable diligence the possibility of marriage at or just after graduation—if the right person could be found on campus.

It was January 1971, with graduation only five months away. From all indications, David was on schedule to be assigned to the field ministry as soon as he graduated.

It was long thought that one of the strongest indicators that a man was ready for the field ministry was whether there was an engagement or an impending one to a woman who was qualified to be, and interested in being, a field minister’s wife. Church Administration took literally God’s instruction from Genesis 2:18: “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Unmarried Ambassador College graduates were sent to the field, but were rarely ordained before marriage.

A true servant of God, particularly younger, less experienced ones, needed the help and support that only a dedicated, loving, understanding wife could provide.

Dating Policy

David well understood that he needed to find a partner—he needed to be married.

Beginning in 1965, Mr. Armstrong believed that students needed sufficient time at Ambassador to absorb all that the college had to offer. The Pastor General determined that senior male students were no longer permitted to marry freshmen or sophomores. They could only marry junior, senior or graduate women. Men were required to attend a minimum of three years, and women for at least two—leaving early only if they married a senior.

The dating policy at Ambassador was radically different from other educational institutions. (Of course, most have no dating policy.) By the late 1960s and early 70s, the college administration had in place a carefully controlled dating schedule. Freshmen, sophomores and first-semester juniors could date the same person once per semester. From a junior’s second semester to a senior’s first, students could date the same person three times per semester. It was only from the second semester of one’s senior year that students could date the same person multiple times, and become seriously involved. This system was devised so that all students became acquainted with each other over a period of years, helping them to more effectively determine their best match for the future. It also broadened people socially.

The policy was publicly relaxed just prior to the 1970-71 school year to permit seniors to date a person as much as they wished all through the senior year.

Many students, including some of the prominent student body officeholders, would violate this policy. Certain couples would quietly “wait,” sometimes for years, with an “understanding” that they were a couple, until they could come out in the open and date publicly. Because of who was and who was not permitted to get away with this, at times it was again evident that politics were involved—more than one standard existed for those who could get away with it.

Of course, there were many who wanted to date and marry according to what they believed was God’s Way.

The first somewhat serious relationship David had at college occurred just before his senior year. It was short. Later, in January, five months from graduation, another relationship of several months ended. It was a devastating experience, in part because the girl broke it off unexpectedly.

He wondered, What did I do wrong? What was missing in my assessment?

In retrospect, he realized the young woman had not yet developed emotionally. Ultimately, the couple would have been a bad match. He had been unable to see this, he concluded years later, because he had been much too emotionally involved. Many years later, Mr. Pack wondered about God’s hand in her decision:

“I have long wondered whether God had been involved in her change of mind because He had someone entirely different in mind for me. If I could not see the relationship was not good, then he had to bring the more humbling experience to me of having shown it to the woman first.”

David counseled with a faculty member on a Friday night. It did not take long for the senior minister to see that the young man had not truly sought God’s guidance in selecting a proper mate. The senior had made his choice without being certain it was God’s choice.

David took this counsel and returned to his dormitory to begin what would become a 48-hour fast (denying oneself food and water), accompanied with extra prayer and Bible study. It quickly became evident that the minister was correct: The college senior had not been fully seeking God’s counsel, but rather had assumed he had. Was this another form of self-will at work? David determined to diligently search for God’s will in any future relationship.

Within a couple of weeks, he thought of several graduates he should ask for at least one date. But this time, he determined to take things slowly. Very slowly. He wanted to allow enough time to meditate and seek God’s guidance toward a particular person, and whether there should be a second date, or more.

Additionally, he decided that no matter how interested he was in the girl after the first date, he would make himself wait three full weeks until pursuing a second date.

A Surprise Date

One of the women David considered was Miss Shirley Ochs (pronounced “oaks”), Mr. Armstrong’s executive secretary. The senior often encountered her as he led campus tours, but had never considered asking her on a date because she was three and a half years older than he, and had graduated as his freshman year ended. Also, since she was not at all an athlete, but rather a musician and a member of the college band, their paths seldom crossed socially.

Each year, the college rented over a dozen buses to carry students, faculty and other staff several hours east of campus to enjoy a wonderful day in the beautiful, snowy mountains of Southern California. That year, the soon-to-be-graduate (with a little encouragement from a friend) decided to ask Shirley, “out of the blue,” to the winter sledding party.

She said, “Yes,” and their first date took place in February 1971.

It was a different kind of date, unlike any either had experienced: 13 hours of traveling on a bus, sledding, lunch, followed by dinner back at the campus. They each had a good time conversing for hours, never running out of things to discuss. Because Miss Ochs was older, she was more emotionally mature, and socially and culturally developed, than other girls David had dated.

The following Sabbath, she wrote a note thanking him for the date, and placed it in his student mailbox, along with a batch of freshly baked brownies. Later that night, after he played in an intramural basketball game (while she played in the pep band), she waited for him outside the Gymnasium. To her puzzlement, he warmly greeted her, but said nothing else, simply walking past straight to his dorm. He was interested in a second date, but she had no idea he was determined to wait three weeks before asking her out again.

Over the weeks, David avoided all interaction in order to stick to his plan. Naturally, Miss Ochs was mystified at the senior’s apparent lack of interest, unaware of his “plan.”

“Wow,” she thought, “we had a great first date. I wonder what went wrong.”

David spent the time praying for godly judgment and guidance to decide whether to pursue the AC graduate. Even though he had enjoyed their date, he was determined to wait on God.

Meanwhile, Miss Ochs did not know the senior planned to ask her to the upcoming spring dance, especially since he had not shown any further interest.

David’s roommate happened to be a close friend of hers. Knowing that Shirley Ochs was oblivious to the “plan,” he told him, “Pack, if you don’t quit wasting time and ask her to the dance, I’m going to ask her myself!”

Almost two weeks had passed since the sledding party, and, feeling heat from a friend, David realized he could no longer wait. Besides, he wanted to spend more time with her; there was something different about Shirley Ochs that made her stand out from the other girls on campus.

He telephoned and asked for a second date, to which she happily agreed.

The Ochs Family

Much like the Pack family, the Ochs had a strong and unique influence on their daughter, Shirley.

The youngest child of Peter and Dorothy Ochs, who themselves were the children of German and Austrian immigrants, she was born on May 19, 1945, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her parents named her Shirley Mae.

Throughout Shirley’s childhood, Peter Ochs owned and operated a small music store—the “Ochs’ House of Music”—which his father had opened with him in 1932.

In every sense, the music store defined the Ochs family, and had an enormous impact on Shirley and her two older sisters, Dorothy (“Dottie”) and Barbara (“Barbie”)—as well as on the entire city of Milwaukee and beyond. At one point, the store had more than 50 employees, selling instruments and giving music lessons to hundreds of children each week.

Peter Ochs was well known and respected throughout the community. Starting in the early 1950s, he had a local radio show, Pete Ochs & His Orchestra, in which Shirley participated. Thousands of Milwaukee listeners enjoyed his traditional German music on the radio every Sunday afternoon. Because of his musical reputation, Peter Ochs became known as the “Lawrence Welk of Milwaukee”—up to 250,000 people could personally call him by name.

Peter also had a dance band, which packed large halls on Friday and Saturday nights. People from across the region brought their families to listen to the band and delighted in nights of wholesome German entertainment. Some of Shirley’s fondest memories were of these evenings: dancing, singing and watching with awe as her larger-than-life father entertained crowds of 500 to 600 people or more, with dozens of his extended family in attendance.

In addition, Shirley’s father organized and directed several marching bands for different age groups. These were called “The Conntinentals,” named after the popular Conn brand of musical instruments made famous by C.G. Winn in the 1920s. Because the family store sold hundreds of Conn instruments a year, the company supplied them at a discounted rate.

The Conntinentals were a mixture of music students—senior, cadet and junior bands—and other adults in the community who traveled with bands that marched in parades and participated in national competitions. Under her father’s direction, Shirley marched in events in every state in the continental U.S. They even performed in the January 1961 inauguration of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in Washington, D.C. All of this gained them a measure of international fame, which opened the door to marching in the streets of German cities on tours in 1965 and 1968.

Peter Ochs also organized local concerts to share his brand of wholesome, family-oriented music with the public. In the early 1960s, Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Braves gave him permission to rent the Milwaukee County Stadium to perform a “Strike Up the Bands” concert. At the time, the sole purpose was to give the city a marvelous—and free!—night of music. Participants, including young Shirley, raised money all summer to be able to serve the community. Such generosity defined her father.

Having been born into a large, musically talented family greatly influenced the little girl from the beginning. She learned to play the accordion and the flute from an early age. Every day after school, she went to the store, completed her homework, and then ran the cash register before preparing meals with her mother and sisters in the evening. As she reached her late teens, she helped by giving music lessons to children.

Shirley Ochs’ unique, hardworking and creative social environment formed the backdrop of her childhood.

First Church Service

In addition to being locally known through his music store and bands, Peter Ochs was active in the local Mantel Club, a highly structured leadership/service club for men. On Sunday afternoons, they met together, addressing a variety of relevant topics.

One day in the summer of 1959, one of Mr. Ochs’ closest friends told the group, “I think we might have the wrong day. I just listened to a man named Herbert W. Armstrong on the radio, and he makes a strong argument that Saturday is actually the Sabbath.”

Soon afterward, a small group of families began to gather around the radio to hear Mr. Armstrong’s tenor voice announcing the coming kingdom of God. They gathered each Friday night and talked about the Bible and Mr. Armstrong’s preaching. The messages they heard from The World Tomorrow program had an immediate impact on the small group, including the Ochs family.

As he grew in biblical understanding, Peter challenged family members on their Catholic and Protestant beliefs regarding makeup, pagan holidays and the true gospel of Jesus Christ. He even went so far as to tell his two younger sisters that “only whores wear makeup!” But he was proving his beliefs. His unwavering commitment to the truth left a powerful impression on his youngest daughter during the formative teenage years.

Since there was no local Radio Church of God minister or congregation at that time, the closest minister, Mr. Dean Blackwell, traveled from Chicago, Illinois, to visit the small group of families from the Mantel Club. The group began keeping the Sabbath, holding Friday evening services with a small congregation of about 80 people pastored by Mr. Blackwell.

The Ochs family attended their first Milwaukee Church service on December 24, 1959. Shirley was 14 years old. The next autumn, both of her two older sisters enrolled in Ambassador College, which had been founded 13 years earlier.

Their departure left Shirley alone in Milwaukee for three years before she could attend Ambassador herself. She spent those years paging through the Envoys (AC yearbooks), learning the names of faculty members and students, and listening to stories from her sisters. She and her parents also visited the campus several times, and witnessed it grow and develop. By the time she enrolled as a freshman in the fall of 1963, Shirley already felt like a student. Here is why.

As AC students, her older sisters, Dottie and Barbie Ochs, had previously become acquainted with Mr. Armstrong and his wife, Loma, beginning with the Feast of Tabernacles in 1960. This had led to their younger sister forming a friendly relationship with the Armstrongs that lasted through her Ambassador years.

Shirley faithfully kept the Sabbath during her high school years, and read The Plain Truth magazine and studied the Bible Correspondence Course. As she learned the truths of God, she left behind all but two loyal high school friends and focused on the Church, the family music store, and the marching bands her father conducted. Anxious to complete high school and move on to Ambassador, she finished all of her required classes in only three and a half years. This permitted her to begin working full-time in January 1963 to save money for college.

She trained as a stenographer and worked as a secretary for an insurance company, until her acceptance to AC. Little did she know that deciding to enter the workforce early would forever change the course of her life.

Unique Training

As explained, incoming Ambassador College freshmen were typically assigned jobs such as gardening, janitorial and kitchen work. However, due to her prior experience, as well as a growing need in the expanding Work of God, Shirley Ochs was selected to work as a secretary. First, she served as a stenographer in the Mailing Department for IBM keypunch, with this eventually leading to part-time employment as Mr. Armstrong’s secretary from 1963 to 1965, during her freshman and sophomore years.

Before her third year, Shirley, with a small group of other students, was selected to transfer to Bricketwood, Ambassador College’s sister campus in England, to participate in a one-year study abroad program. She enjoyed—was thrilled with—the experience of the quaint English countryside, the British culture and historical influences, and the exquisite campus environment—so much that she requested to remain for her senior year. She received permission to finish her studies in England, but it came with a condition—a personal requirement from Mr. Armstrong: She had to promise to return to Pasadena for a fifth year—in effect, a second senior year. Mr. Armstrong wanted her to have exposure to more American men in the fifth year. As with the stenography training, Mr. Armstrong’s decision would have a fateful effect on her entire life—she would overlap for one year with an incoming freshman from Lima, Ohio.

Shirley “graduated” unmarried from Bricketwood in 1967. Of course, she kept her word by returning to Pasadena. There she took additional classes while working as a receptionist in the old Hall of Administration. She shared this position with a fellow graduate, who later served as the first stewardess onboard the Church’s newly acquired jet. Shirley filled the void left by the woman’s frequent absence at Headquarters whenever the stewardess traveled with Mr. Armstrong, as he was now meeting leaders around the world.

In January 1969, Shirley transferred to the recently constructed Hall of Administration continuing in Mr. Armstrong’s office as one of his two executive secretaries.

God’s Hand Guiding

Like most students, Shirley dated widely and built many close friendships. During the years after graduation, she had two relationships that began to develop into something more serious. However, looking back, she said, “It was obvious God intervened in my life. It’s clear He closed my mind to pursuing either relationship any further, even though I didn’t understand why at the time. Despite pressure from faculty, ministers, friends and family to get married, I ended both relationships on good terms.”

In one instance, while interested in a certain man, she was called before a senior minister, who said, “The relationship is wrong. You will be unhappy if you marry this man.”

She later saw this as direct intervention from God, instructing her to wait patiently for Him to reveal His will.

At times, she found it difficult to understand why she had not met anyone with whom a relationship could blossom into marriage.

Though lonely, Miss Ochs felt blessed to be Mr. Armstrong’s personal secretary, a position she described as the greatest job for which one could ask.

As she prayed for God to show His will, she soon came to a decision: If God wanted her to truly be a “living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1-2) for His Work by not having a family, she would accept her role, despite personal wishes. She was willing to remain unmarried.

Not long after deciding to place her future completely in God’s hands, she received a phone call from a young man employed in the Mailing Department—to her surprise, it was David Pack.

Puzzled, she wondered, “Why would he call me? We don’t really know each other.”

Recall that during her last year at Bricketwood she had heard about an “All-American swimmer” who had chosen to attend God’s college, and the rumor had it that this freshman “was going to put Ambassador College on the map in the summer Olympic Games.”

When Shirley returned to Pasadena, she had met the student, but only casually. At most, they had spoken briefly a few times when she was looking for a tour guide. (When Mr. Armstrong was out of town, Miss Ochs would serve at the front desk of the Hall of Administration. This would be how David encountered her more regularly.)

Now, he had suddenly called her “out of the blue”—and with an invitation to escort her to the college snow party!

She kindly accepted and hung up the phone. Miss Ochs then turned to her co-worker and said, “You’re not going to believe who just called me.”

Although she certainly knew of the tall student, and their brief interactions had always been cordial, it had been more than two years since they first met. He was one of the last people she thought would ever call her for a date.

Many men on campus were intimidated by Shirley, fearing the scrutiny that they expected would come from dating the personal secretary of the Church’s Pastor General—and both of her brother-in-laws were very high-profile senior ministers. Mr. Armstrong was a grandfatherly figure who naturally felt protective of his young secretary—and wanted to make certain she dated and married the right person.

In late 1963, Peter Ochs and his wife had met with Mr. Armstrong on campus. With his unique blend of boldness and humor, for which he was known, he “charged” the senior-most leader of God’s Church to “watch carefully for who marries my youngest daughter.”

Mr. Armstrong laughed and promised to do this—an assurance he would relate with a chuckle years later.

Make no mistake. It would take an earnest, confident and resolute personality and strength of character to accept the pressures associated with dating Mr. Armstrong’s secretary. Most who knew David Pack were aware that, toward the end of his four years of AC, he lacked neither boldness nor confidence.

Calling Father-in-law-to-be

As he prepared for his second date with Shirley Ochs, David grew more convinced of his initial feeling that she was a special woman. The evening of the dance confirmed this in his thoughts. Following a wonderful dinner, the pair continued to have a delightful time.

Again, according to plan, he waited 10 days—half as long—for a third date, and, from that night forward, they spent almost every spare moment together. As the weeks went by and David’s graduation approached, serious interest grew between them. It was undeniable. Several weeks of dating had led to courtship, and thoughts of wedding bells began to ring in their minds.

After many dates and counseling with the ministry, David decided to propose to Shirley Ochs. However, it was standard practice to write a letter to the future father-in-law to ask for permission to have his daughter’s hand in marriage. What was not standard was how her father responded.

“I opened the letter with, ‘This letter is from a perfect stranger.’ I went on to tell him a little bit about myself. I also wrote that I would be calling him, after which I did not give the letter a second thought.

“When I called shortly after, I said, ‘Hello, Mr. Ochs, this is David Pack.’

“I still remember his exact response, ‘I don’t know any perfect strangers.’

“Taken aback, I replied, ‘Excuse me?’

“He repeated, ‘I don’t know any perfect strangers. I have never met one.’

“I responded, ‘I’m sorry, sir, but I’m not following you.’

“‘You wrote to me and said you were a perfect stranger. I’ve known strangers, but never a perfect one,’ he explained—after which he belly laughed.

“I finally remembered how I had begun my letter and realized that this man had a unique sense of humor. He could not wait for my call.

“But he did give permission to propose.”


David Pack and Shirley Ochs became engaged during the Days of Unleavened Bread of 1971. They had hoped Mr. Armstrong would counsel them for and perform the marriage, but the Pastor General was scheduled to be in the Philippines, away from Headquarters on an extended trip. Instead, the newly engaged couple selected another senior minister to finish their counseling and to perform the marriage.

However, Mr. Armstrong did make time to personally counsel his secretary, via telephone. One day, the Pastor General had called the Executive Office from the Philippines concerning a Church-related matter. When he heard Shirley Ochs’ voice, he spoke extensively with her on the spot. The discussion turned into an almost two-hour marriage counseling session, which included aspects of how to be a good wife.

Mr. Armstrong did not yet know her fiancée well personally. They had spoken briefly, and David had also enjoyed the Senior dinner with him (sitting beside him) on one occasion. The Pastor General did recall the Ohio native’s former athletic career, and had heard positive things about him. He supported their plans for marriage.

Mr. Armstrong had long taught that a minister’s wife was “one-half of her husband’s ministry.” He also taught the proverb, he “who finds a wife finds…favor of the Lord” (Prov. 18:22). Upon further counseling, the ministry agreed that the two made a good match.

David suspected he would have big shoes to fill. Again, both of his fiancée’s sisters were married to senior ministers, Church leaders who were Pastor-rank and also District Superintendents. The young man did not view his future family relationship through marriage as unwanted pressure. Rather, he realized it would afford many great learning opportunities.

“I remember being quite excited at the thought that I would have two such senior brothers-in-law. I do not know if they were excited about having me, but I was about being related to them. I knew I was hardly entering the family as an ‘equal.’ I determined to pepper them with questions at every possible opportunity. I am pretty sure that they would say that I stuck to my word on this.”

During those years in God’s Work, Mr. Armstrong and the Church understood that Ambassador College existed primarily for one purpose: to prepare “laborers” for the “harvest” (Matt. 9:36-38), properly trained and experienced men and women who would serve, protect and hold together congregations in the field. It appeared that this was now going to be the manner in which God would use the new Mr. and Mrs. Pack.

Surprise Telegram

On March 30, 1971, David received a wonderful surprise. The switchboard left a phone message for him and his brother in their campus mailboxes, stating, “You have a Telex here from your parents.” A completely unexpected Western Union Telex had arrived from his parents that simply stated, “Worldwide Church of God has two new members. All our love, Mom and Dad.”

Ran and Jane Pack were baptized! It was stunning news! David knew they had been attending services for some time and studying the Church’s literature, but he was unsure of the seriousness of their interest. There had been no hint of “baptismal counseling.”

Of course, initially, his parents had been mildly hostile to the “strange” doctrines their two sons had embraced. But after David, and later Bill, went away to attend Ambassador College, Jane and Ran’s curiosity about the “boys’ religion” slowly increased.

When David had visited home during his freshman year, his mother had asked, “I want to see what you boys do on Saturday. Could I visit your church?”

Excited, David had immediately called the Church of God local minister, who pastored the new local congregation in nearby Findlay.

“Could my mother come to Church?” the freshman said. “She wants to visit with us once.”

The minister said, “Sure. It’s no problem if relatives come and visit with you. But don’t get too excited. She’ll probably come once and never return.”

It was the ministry’s experience that such relatives usually came only a few times. However, in this instance, the pastor was wrong. After her first visit, Jane Pack never failed to attend another Sabbath service for the rest of her life unless she was ill.

After about one year of watching his wife leave their home every Saturday for services, Ran said to himself, “Wait a minute. I want to see what my wife is doing, and where she goes every Saturday morning!”

He accompanied his wife—and, like her, attended services every week without fail for the rest of his life.

Finally, after years of trying to understand their son’s “strange” beliefs, Ran and Jane Pack responded to God’s call into His Church. They were now baptized.

Their sons were ecstatic.

Upon learning God’s truth, both parents realized they would have to end their decades-long habit of smoking. For Ran, this was unbelievably difficult, having battled smoking for years.

For Jane, on the other hand, the situation was strangely different. When she learned that smoking was something Christians cannot do, she simply said, “Oh, these are wrong? Then I won’t smoke again.” She discarded her pack of cigarettes and never did.

In some cases, family and friends follow the Christian example they see brethren exhibit. They become curious about their loved one’s way of life—why he or she seems so happy. They want to find the same happiness for themselves.

David eventually realized that the best way to influence others, including his parents, was to focus on exemplifying the fruits of God’s Spirit, described in Galatians 5:22-23. (No more Bible and booklet thumping.) His parents stated that his personal transformation and practicing of true Christianity had, at least partially, prompted their decision to examine the Church’s beliefs.

In most situations, God called parents into His Church—their children might follow. But in the case of the Packs, the parents followed the children.

Chapter Thirteen – Entering the Ministry

Six weeks before graduation, the Personnel Manager called David in for yet another meeting, this time to discuss the senior’s post-college future.

Having recently become engaged, Mr. Pack entered the meeting with hopes, and beginning plans of entering the ministry. All indications over the last semester pointed toward this role, yet the manager of Personnel had other ideas. He made it clear that the former competitive athlete would most likely not be going into the ministry. The man’s recommendation would likely be that Mr. Pack was “not suited for the field ministry.”

The Field Ministry?

While Mr. Pack understood that many more than the Headquarters’ employee Personnel Manager were involved in the decision to send men into Christ’s ministry, and that this did not mean “the end,” he was still stunned.

This was because the sheer revenge and hostility of a Pastor-rank minister, prolonged over so many years, was almost impossible to accept. It had been the single greatest faith-building experience of his college career—even including twice coming face-to-face with death.

“The Personnel Manager was a Korean War hero. Some loved his austere manner, and others despised him. There was almost no in between. He was without doubt the most joyless human being that I have ever been forced to encounter, and for so many times. But I am still thankful for the awful way that he treated me. He turned out to be the greatest single impetus permitting me very early on to learn that suffering kicks the mental learning mechanism into gear, and that this is often God’s way of teaching. See Ecclesiastes 7:14.

“Also, it was becoming personally evident to me—and certainly not just because of this man—that there were tares among the wheat. There was no mistaking the message here. I was to learn this time and time again at the highest levels of the Church. It was not surprising that this man left the Church as early as 1975 to form his own tiny group. He was upset with Mr. Armstrong for changing the date of Pentecost and the Church’s understanding of divorce and remarriage. So I was in good company. Mr. Armstrong had also displeased him.”

Mr. Pack did leave the office and tell his fiancée what could become grim news—that a future with him might not equate to service in the ministry. The couple sat in the upper gardens talking for hours on a late Friday afternoon. He wanted to be sure she was not in any way marrying him with this in mind. Instead, she offered encouragement and support. They agreed to patiently wait and trust God to lead them along His path. They determined that if this were God’s will, he would consider employment opportunities outside the ministry. She was fully prepared for that if it was to happen, and said so. The ministry could even come later.

Great News!

Almost immediately after, David and Shirley were invited to dinner at the house of the Director of Church Administration, Roderick C. Meredith. (He was related to Shirley by his marriage to the older sister of her brother-in-law, Carl McNair.)

“We received a fine recommendation for you,” Mr. Meredith said.

“Really?” Mr. Pack said. “I wasn’t sure I was going into the field.”

“Oh no, we got a very positive report, a good solid report and you are going back to Indianapolis. The pastor there is requesting you back.”

The final decision to hire Mr. Pack into the ministry occurred just days earlier in the scheduled “Manpower Meeting.” This formal discussion and evaluation process, typically held just as graduation drew near, determined which seniors were qualified to enter the Work, and included where would be each new hire’s assignment.

Mr. Meredith said that the consensus among Headquarters ministers was that Mr. Pack was well-suited for the ministry. (Years later, Mr. Pack learned that Mr. Armstrong had also personally recommended sending him to the field.)

In the end, the Personnel Manager’s evaluation was seen to be an isolated opinion. Mr. Pack could not help wondering if this had been his last gasp to either just frighten him or to block him outright.

Regardless, the “almost-Packs” were thrilled at the fantastic news—it was everything for which they had hoped.

Size and Impact of the Worldwide Church of God

With a future in the ministry now imminent, Mr. Pack gave much more realistic thought to the incredible Work into which he was being hired. Now it was real!

By 1971, the Worldwide Church of God had grown to well over 50,000 members worldwide, with regional offices on six continents.

The size and scope of the Church in North America alone was impressive. In the United States, hundreds of ministers and elders served many scores of congregations. In addition to weekly Sabbath services, congregations across the country shared regular combined services with sometimes thousands in attendance. Feast sites were gargantuan, 10,000 and even 15,000 in one location.

Due to regularly announcing the true gospel of the kingdom of God, through The World Tomorrow and The Plain Truth, the Church experienced unprecedented growth. The radio program was broadcast on some 400 radio and 99 TV stations, reaching millions by the fall of 1971. Two million subscribers read The Plain Truth magazine, which analyzed world news, trends and conditions in the light of Bible prophecy.

The Worldwide Church of God had become an immense globe-girdling organization with real international impact.

Yet Mr. Pack did not accept his ministerial position based on the organization’s size or view his new pastoral assignment as merely a “good opportunity.” It was a calling—from God. In his new role, he could help and serve local brethren in a much greater way.


For most graduating students, the final week of college was an unforgettable, life-changing experience. It was not unheard of for some few students to graduate on a Friday, be ordained that Sabbath, get married the next day, Sunday, and then head straight for their ministerial assignment on Monday, sometimes sort of honeymooning “on the way.”

Just before graduation (Friday, June 4), Church Administration announced that Mr. Pack and his soon-to-be bride would serve in Indianapolis and Lafayette, Indiana, where Mr. Pack would become for the first time officially a full-time ministerial assistant.

Wow, my college career is over, he thought. Three years and nine months of jobs, classes and trials, and now I’m getting married and going into the field ministry.

He was thrilled!

Wedding and More!

Yet Mr. Pack was nearing another major milestone: marriage. He looked forward to starting a new life with his future bride. Days later, on June 6, 1971, at 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning, the couple became Mr. and Mrs. David C. Pack. Their wedding was held in the Lower Gardens below the old Cyrus McCormick mansion, the same location where graduation had taken place about 42 hours earlier.

Mr. Pack’s parents flew in to see their oldest son graduate and get married. His great Aunt Bess also came from just across Pasadena to the event. Mrs. Pack’s parents were unable to travel the distance.

Their first night together as husband and wife, the newlyweds traveled up the California coast for their honeymoon. Monday night, they stopped in the San Francisco Bay area, and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings and magnificent views of the historic Pacific Coast Highway.

After four days, the newlyweds returned to Pasadena on Thursday before flying to Chicago Friday afternoon. The Ochs received them at the airport and took them to their home in Milwaukee, where the McNairs and Antions had arrived by late Friday night.

“Driving to Milwaukee from the airport after we had arrived in Chicago, I referred to my new in-laws as ‘Mr. and Mrs. Antion’ and ‘Mr. and Mrs. McNair.’ As soon as my father-in-law heard this, he said, “No, no, no! None of this ‘Mister’ business. They are Gary and Carl.’

“Not wanting to disrespect my new senior brothers-in-law, I asked, ‘Are you sure? I don’t want to be disrespectful.’ And ‘I don’t think I would be able to use their first name.’

“My new father-in-law said, ‘No, don’t worry. You won’t have to say anything. I will take care of this tomorrow morning.’

“My wife and I awoke early the next morning surrounded by all seven of my new nieces and nephews, who crowded around the bed to greet ‘Uncle David and Aunt Shirley.’ Each of the seven children stepped forward in little robes to introduce themselves by name.

“Immediately Mr. Ochs introduced me to my new brothers-in-law, ‘Gary and Carl, this is David. David, meet Gary and Carl. I don’t want to hear any of this “Mister” business.’

“They replied to me, ‘He’s the boss!’ And it was not uncomfortable.”

On Sunday afternoon, over 200 relatives from far and wide attended a wedding reception. This was the Ochs family way to introduce their daughter’s new husband to their large family.

His new extended family was warm and friendly, and they made him feel immediately accepted. He was overwhelmed to meet such a large and “social” family—so very different from the small, close-knit family of his childhood. It was an impression Mr. Pack never forgot.

Preparing to Enter the Ministry

The Packs stayed in Milwaukee for just three days before driving to Indiana. Naturally, Mr. Pack was eager to begin his new responsibilities as a ministerial assistant. He was also optimistic about returning to Indianapolis to work and train under the man who helped send him to Ambassador. Dedication over the four years of college had paid off. Mr. Pack was finally in the ministry.

Though excited to get to work, he was unsure of what lay ahead. Regardless, he knew his training would serve him.

Faithful ministers of God are charged with feeding Christ’s sheep (John 21:15-17)—members of God’s Church and those whom God might be calling into His way of life. Worldwide Church of God pastors regularly visited brethren, usually at their homes, and provided them the counsel, guidance, instruction or encouragement each individual needed. Ministers were also responsible for visiting prospective members, people who were moved about what they read in The Plain Truth or heard on The World Tomorrow radio program and contacted Headquarters to request a ministerial visit.

Perhaps more than anything else, Mr. Pack looked forward to participating in these visits. He knew it would provide support to local brethren and a tremendous learning opportunity on his way to becoming an ordained minister.

Reality Check

Although initiated with high hopes, Mr. Pack’s first year out of college proved frustratingly difficult.

“My arrival in Indianapolis was the real true beginning of being in the ministry, other than the previous summer. There were certain expectations every assistant had for his first assignment. Most of this simply came from a widely understood knowledge of ‘the way it was’ in the field ministry. So I had clear expectations going in. So did my wife.

“The minister I was coming to serve had been only too wonderful to me, and from the time he had first sent me to college. He was a genial man, married to a person who was very nice to me. I had enjoyed their children from the summer before, and looked forward to seeing them again, this time with a wife.”

Almost immediately, the new ministerial assistant was instructed to perform various fix-it jobs for the minister: cutting grass, painting the garage, tilling the garden, and blacktopping the driveway, instead of learning how to attend to the brethren’s spiritual needs. Once these personal projects were completed, the minister took his young assistant fishing, boating and weightlifting at the gym.

“Some of this was another part of the way it was in the field. But not all. I do not blame the pastor, but rather a misguided understanding of what was thought-to-be ‘teaching government’ that had grown up under the Director of Church Administration of the previous 10 years. Ministers were in charge, and one of their assignments was to make sure their assistants knew it. Horror stories abounded. While this was wrong in various regards, I accepted it and recognized that I was helping my boss in certain clear ways.

“Understand that in those days, however, certain things were still largely unthinkable, and thus were never questioned. I did not recognize that all of these odd jobs were the wrong approach to assistants.

“And my boss was certainly never a taskmaster over me in these duties. Rather he was kind, and always sought to include my wife and me in certain ways, and I was generally glad to help him.”

But there were times when Mr. Pack arrived at the pastor’s home intending to join him visiting. As he was about to walk out the door, his wife would ask, “Please stay home today.”

Strangely, the minister would relent. “I’m sorry, I guess you can head home. We will not be visiting today.”

But other things also got in the way of visiting God’s people. The result was that local brethren suffered.

It was very difficult for a ministerial assistant to go from the high-paced learning environment of the College to almost overnight backing into near inactivity at least in regard to the ministry. Mr. Pack was geared up to get going.

“The pastor must have wondered about this excited, driven, sometimes naïve, young man who was there to conquer the world. I had much to learn about balance. But we simply did not serve the people. Also, coming as a married assistant had changed the equation. My wife was the same age as his wife.

“These two women had been best friends during their freshman year at Ambassador. But eight years had passed since then, and their lives had taken very different paths. In fairness to the pastor, this must have been awkward for him—and her.”

Unexpected Adjustment

That first year in the field proved to be frustrating for Mrs. Pack as well. It began with comments such as, “I’m glad I’m married to a Pastor-rank minister. That’s important to me.”

Such status-conscious statements were at the least surprising.

On one hand, the pastor’s wife left AC after only one year of school, to become a homemaker at age 19. On the other, Mrs. Pack had gained five years of an Ambassador College education. She had studied abroad in Europe, broadening her educational and cultural horizons. She had been the Pastor General’s personal secretary, privy to the daily pressures and demands thrust upon the human leader of God’s Church. Again, Mrs. Pack was also related to, through marriage, two field district superintendents who each supervised multiple ministers and many congregations in the United States and Canada.

Years of training and working at Ambassador College produced in the former Shirley Ochs certain professionalism, grace under pressure and confidence. AC had prepared her to be a “help meet” to her husband—and his ministry.

For example, unlike some, Mrs. Pack did not ask her husband to do all the driving. She was more than willing to take over the wheel, even at the height of rush hour traffic, or if her husband needed to jot notes on the way to services or ministerial visits. She was not a woman who would freeze up or be easily intimidated.

Ironically, her willingness to drive and take an active leadership role among the women in the local congregation sometimes brought accusations from her former classmate of being “too independent.” It was difficult for Mrs. Pack.

“Organize the File”

By September, after months of almost no visits to brethren and prospective members, the minister produced a shoebox filled with forms and letters.

“We have a bunch of visit requests,” he said.

He handed the box to his assistant. “Go ahead. You can organize these.”

Mr. Pack could scarcely believe it. He had spent his entire first summer in the field fishing, working in the garden or getting in shape at the gym with this man—all while over 30 prospective member households in the area were waiting for a minister to visit them! Clearly, ministerial duties were being neglected, leaving prospective members to potentially die on the vine.

Unsure of how to handle the situation or with whom he should talk, Mr. Pack called a new brother-in-law.

“I have a situation here,” he began. “We don’t do anything productive! At the same time, we have a large number of visit request forms and letters that have built up over time.”

The senior minister offered encouragement and suggested the ministerial assistant write a report to his supervisor, detailing the concerns. Mr. Pack’s brother-in-law stressed the importance of following God’s government and presenting concerns directly to one’s superior—not privately to someone else.

“My wife and I had somewhat overreacted. Yes, there was a clear problem in what was occurring, or rather not occurring. I should have gone to the man in a nice, low-key way with questions, and nothing more. If it had gone badly, I suppose then I could have called my brother-in-law. Otherwise, I should have left him out of it, and waited for God to solve such a problem.

“Understand. There were certainly a lot of things I had not figured out at age 22 and less than four months out of college.”

High Evaluation Reversed

Mr. Pack followed the advice, and spent several days carefully outlining a typed report.

But the day that he planned to submit it, his supervisor informed him it was time for his first evaluation. The pastor said the young assistant had been “performing well,” and “had delivered a good split-sermon (on the Feast of Trumpets).” He added that ordination would probably be in about six months, around the Feast of Unleavened Bread (1972).

Mr. Pack was dumbfounded. With the report in hand, he hesitantly said, “I have something I need to give you.”

The minister read the list of concerns, including a typed list of the 30 households who had been waiting for visits, and how long each had been waiting.

Now the minister was dumbfounded. He immediately telephoned the Director of Church Administration.

Instead of addressing the concerns in the report, the CAD Director completely—and blindly—backed the pastor. The minister brought the couple to his home and severely corrected them just before the Day of Atonement. The young couple was so in shock they could not eat before the annual fast began at sundown.

The hardest part was that the Director of CAD simply did not care about what was happening. It was of no concern to him. The facts of the situation did not matter.

“I must admit that the minister found it very difficult to correct me. He plainly said so and I believed it. But he was under instructions from above to ‘come down hard.’ While what happened was unjust, the problem lay above his head, and that man would soon be removed by Mr. Armstrong eight months later.”

It was natural to expect things to get worse between Mr. Pack and his supervisor. Yet the uncomfortable situation was short lived. Their working relationship soon recovered and things returned to somewhat normal. This attitude reversal largely stemmed from the pastor’s history with Mr. Pack and his personal fondness toward him. The feeling was mutual.

However, complicating matters was the fact that the Packs were only paid $135 each week and were paying on a series of debts from prior to marriage. They simply had no discretionary funds left—at all!—on a salary of $7,020 per year.

Finally Visiting Brethren

The Director of CAD had instituted a policy, in force for some years, that a certain number of visits (quite high) be made each week by full-time ministers. To track this, paperwork was required to show time, length and topics covered for each visit.

As might be expected, there were certain ministers who redefined visits and cut corners to boost numbers. Some made phone calls that mysteriously became visits. Others made “popcorn visits,” including seeing widows for 10- or 15-minute periods. Through at least semi-falsified reports, certain field ministers appeared busy and productive. Pasadena could not know otherwise.

Mr. Pack’s pastor still rarely visited. However, to keep the Packs occupied, he let the young couple visit widows on their own. Finally, Mr. Pack was given a chance to support local brethren and gain experience in the field.

“This opportunity to visit widows with my wife, although at first just a few, turned out to become one of the very greatest blessings of my ministry. First, I was on fire to do the Work, and this gave me a tangible opportunity—a direct outlet—to do something. But that was only the beginning of the blessing.

“I almost immediately discovered that each visit with an older person (there were some older gentlemen on the list as well) was the entrance to a gold mine, almost literally. While these elderly brethren were always thrilled to break the monotony of their loneliness, and thanked us for coming, we always got more than we gave. Though visiting widows ‘in their affliction’ (Jms. 1:27) is ‘pure religion,’ visiting them (and widowers) who were eager to talk was pure joy.

“Sometimes every person on our schedule had baked a pie or cake for us. I can still remember days when I had to eat five pieces of one or the other—with coffee. When one is young you can do more of this than is possible later. I learned that youth hides a multitude of physical sins.

“Some ministers seemed burdened by this duty. Others did very little of such visiting, or ignored this responsibility altogether. Boy, did they miss out. This early exposure would set the tone of my visiting for decades to come. In fact, it is the biggest single reason I so miss pastoring today.

“I might add that this led me to look up all of my grandmother’s sisters, several of whom were living in and around Indianapolis, and who were in their 80s and 90s. I had met her one sister in Pasadena, Bess, but now wanted to meet more. My grandmother was one of 11 children, all of them successful, with seven girls. These ladies were such sterling people. I think my great Aunt Gertrude died at 102 (in the early 80s), and I got to visit her well into her 90s. Some of these women had cared for my father as a child because of his father’s absence. It was fun hearing stories from them about him that I could not hear from his father.

“Also, because of this experience, I remember that it hit me how I was long overdue in seeing my 79-year-old Grandmother Crowl near Green Bay, Wisconsin. My wife and I went up there after the Feast to see her (and my Uncle Dick). We were so glad that we did this because she died of cancer just four months later, in February 1972, after showing no symptoms during our visit.”

Travel Trial

In addition to making visits with his wife, Mr. Pack often did this with a local elder. However, while this was a great chance to learn from an ordained man, it also developed into a severe physical trial.

The local elder had a 1971 Plymouth Fury, a large car with an extremely sloped roofline of limited head room. Mr. Pack frequently had to cram his tall frame into the vehicle. When asked if the bench seat could tilt back a little, the elder did so grudgingly.

But the next day, Mr. Pack would have to repeat his request: “Mr. [name], could you please move the seat again?”

It was an ongoing ordeal. It was as if he had to repeatedly convince the driver that he was still 6’7.”

Mr. Pack would sit for hours in the car, cramped in an awkward, uncomfortable position, his head cocked to one side. When he returned home from visits, his wife would have to massage his neck to relax the tense, cramped muscles. In part because of this experience, he would battle neck problems for the rest of his life.

Although Mr. Pack enjoyed meeting with brethren and prospective members in their homes, traveling to and from each visit grew even more physically agonizing whenever the lead minister accompanied them. Even though the pastor and particularly the local elder were much smaller than he, neither was willing to sit in the back seat. Incredibly, this meant that Mr. Pack had to literally lie down on his back in the rear seat of the car, his legs bent and feet propped up on the window. Neither of the men seemed to care that such a tall man was in a contorted position behind them as they traveled. It may have been a certain form of “hazing” the young graduate. The trial lasted throughout the year.

In an ironic twist, the CAD Director—unaware (by choice) that the Indianapolis pastor was neglecting his duties—was considering promoting him to be a district superintendent. This was, at least partly, because the man was so adept at playing political games—a problem that, at one point, became commonplace in the Church. Men were often awarded positions of leadership due to political savvy, rather than personal commitment to serving the brethren or their drive to teach the truth.

This would be a lesson learned repeatedly throughout Mr. Pack’s training in the ministry.

“Understand that the man I worked for was simply a person who did not want to be in the ministry. A few years later, he walked out of the ministry and out of the Church, not going with another group. He and his wife certainly never wanted to hurt anybody. But when he left the Church, it gave meaning—brought clarity—to all that we had experienced in his area.

“This said, unlike so many others, it would be easy to enjoy his company today if the occasion ever arose. I would love to see him again.”

Canoe Trip Turns Dangerous

It was April 1972. Almost a full year had passed since the Packs had arrived in Indianapolis. Mr. Pack and an elder in the area decided to take a canoe trip on a creek west of Indianapolis. Despite a cold, rainy day, both men enjoyed the experience.

A week later, Mr. Pack, two ministers, and four other men decided to take a longer, more adventurous trip down the Whitewater River—the swiftest in the state. While the Whitewater is often very calm in the summer, during times of heavy rain it is dangerous due to runoff from the steep hills of Southeastern Indiana. None understood this.

Despite another rainy, windy day, the group launched three canoes. They were off to a great start as they traveled the narrow part of the river, perhaps 20 to 25 miles upstream from the Ohio River.

Starting early, and after paddling all morning, the group stopped to eat lunch on an embankment. Forty minutes later, they went back, only to discover that the river had risen 12 inches! The men could now almost step laterally into their canoes.

The men continued their journey, not recognizing the danger. The water rose quickly, and the group realized too late how badly they had miscalculated.

The section of water they traveled joined the Great Miami River farther downstream in a floodplain. The men had no idea that the Great Miami had now swelled to two-and-a-half-miles wide—the result of some of the worst flooding in the Whitewater’s history.

As the men progressed, the river became swifter and began overflowing its banks. One man lost his hat to a gust of wind. As he reached to retrieve the hat, his canoe tipped. Moments later, the largest canoe, holding three men, rounded the corner and headed toward the capsized boat. Trying to help, their canoe also flipped!

The final canoe capsized soon afterward, and all seven men, being swept by the roaring torrent, gripped their overturned canoes in the cold water.

“We absolutely could not get out of the river. We could not get over to the bank. Although the sun had come out and we all had life jackets on, we started to get a little worried. But as we passed under a bridge where our wives were standing to watch us pass, we were all waving so they wouldn’t become alarmed. My wife was six months pregnant at the time, and we did not want to scare the ladies, so we continued to wave as we shot by. They waved back, smiling. We had no idea how close the Great Miami was ahead of us.”

The men drew near the bank several times, but the current was too swift to get out. For 45 minutes, they fought the current and freezing water, battling logs and debris around them as the river continued to swell.

Finally, the group rounded a bend and came across a gravel bar. Mr. Pack happened to be on the inside of the river as it took a sharp dogleg. Even though he was still fighting the powerful current, he finally felt the ground underneath. He anchored his feet firmly and yelled to the rest of the group, “Put your feet down!”

He and the other rider in his canoe dug their feet into the ground and held on. They managed to climb up the bank and even save their canoe.

Still helpless against the current, the other men were propelled down river. Two of the men sailed into several downed trees and were able to grab overhanging branches. They were forced to let go of their canoe, only to watch it smash into a bridge abutment just beyond them.

The other two men finally managed to get out with their canoe further down river. All the men were safe. They recognized that God had delivered them.

“The Bible speaks about the fact that we have angels who protect us. It is likely that at least some if not all of us were literally delivered from death on that day. I will never forget April 16, 1972. It was a moment ending with greatly increased faith when it could have been the story of seven tragic deaths.”

Fishing!—and Hunting?

It should be obvious that Mr. Pack’s experiences with water were not all bad (remember, he was a swimmer), and neither was the year in Indianapolis “all bad.” There was some fishing. No story of his life would be complete without explaining his love for fishing.

“I love fishing, and always have. It started when I was young, when my father surprised his three children with (bamboo) cane poles. I recall the excitement of my first trip to St. Mary’s lake in northwestern Ohio to fish off a dock at about age eight with my new ‘cane pole.’ I initially had a little trouble with the ‘put on the worm’ part, but I soon mastered this because I loved watching my bobber move—and disappear—when a bluegill stopped playing with it, and bit. I learned early that they had ‘soft mouths’ and that I had to be a good ‘fisher of fish’ if I were going to enjoy the good taste of bluegills.

“I have fished in ponds, rivers, quarries, lakes, including several of the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. And I have fished from banks, docks, bridges, rowboats and big vessels.

“I have fly fished and gone ice fishing in Wisconsin in duck ponds on the Mississippi River. The last time I was able to do this, in early 1974, I recall catching 75 crappies. They were biting so fast I sometimes pulled two from the water at the same time. I had to clean all of them that night.

“I have caught northern pike, walleye, lake trout, Chinook salmon, bluegills, perch, smallmouth, largemouth and sea bass, catfish (I am sorry to report)—and even an octopus (I am also sorry to report), the latter in the Gulf of Mexico when I was eight years old.

“Of course, later, I took my three children just as my dad took his three children with him. I recall that the last time we did this was at the Feast when we went shark fishing out in the Atlantic at night (I would not have eaten it if we had caught one—but we got skunked!).

“So much fishing was in fact very beneficial to my ministry. I might first add that one benefit was that it helped permit me to think during the difficult Indianapolis experience. But I have truly learned what Jesus meant telling His disciples, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ People are like fish. They are all different. It could be said that some have ‘mouths’ like great northern pike, and others are more like bluegills, meaning some are easier to hook and hold, and others can have the hook torn from their mouths very easily. Baits have to be changed according to depth, temperature of water and time of year. There are so many lessons connected to fishing.

“I was not much of a hunter—that’s for sure. Not unless you count using a BB gun for a short while, shooting birds—until my dad took it away because he was a birdwatcher. He felt it was better watching them alive than dead. However, I have shot many rifles, shotguns and pistols, and did go skeet shooting once.

“I can only wonder how many times I have thrown a line into the water. I wish I still could.”

Second WCG Austerity Year

The summer of 1972 came. The U.S. economy had sunk into a recession. The Church’s income, which depended upon tithes, offerings and donations, was naturally directly affected, leading to a second year of austerity just two years after the last one. All departments were told that they must make cuts. This meant that a number of recently hired ministerial assistants also were to be laid off.

But rather than use a more practical guide to who was qualified and who was not, or who was necessary to keep and who was not, the Director of Church Administration made an arbitrary ruling to lay off one man from each of the 16 districts across the United States. His decision did not take into account that there might be more than one less-qualified man in one district, and none in this category in another.

The CAD Director made a special decision regarding Mr. and Mrs. Pack. He privately said to his successor that “Dave and Shirley Pack are family to me. I do not want to be accused of politics for keeping them when others are scheduled to be let go.”

Fearing charges of nepotism, the Director decided to lay off the Packs. In effect, he made a political decision to avoid the appearance of playing politics—incredible! In fact, he was being removed after 11 years of harsh leadership over the United States and international ministry. At least it could be said that Mr. Pack losing his job unjustly was among his very last acts in office. His oppressive rule was over.

“It is important to know that my boss in Indianapolis gave me opportunities to learn and grow. While I did not have many opportunities to speak, I did participate in a variety of activities, including such things as finding a church hall for a new congregation that started in Muncie, Indiana the very week before I was let go. I recall giving the first sermonette to that congregation.

“But it is most important to recognize that most of my learning and development in this first assignment came by observation. I discovered that the ability—and necessity!—to observe what was going on around me was the single most vital element of my training. I learned to refer to this ‘coursework’ as ‘Observation 101.’ Everywhere I looked there was something to learn—the way assignments by deacons and elders were carried out, the way a Spokesman Club was handled, how counseling was offered in regard to different needs and problems, the smooth flow of Sabbath services, how Passover was prepared for, and simply the general way that so many things were done—or not done.

“Because there was little or no active teaching going on with my training, such observation was necessary. I also learned that there is a second course called ‘Observation 202.’ This consists of observing things that are NOT being done, areas where things should be taking place, but are either being neglected or ignored. I learned to think carefully about what I would do someday in my own pastorate, given the opportunity.

“Nothing from this first year in the field would be as important to the entire rest of my ministry as having learned to daily apply these two ‘courses.’ The book will certainly speak more about this.”

Mr. Pack’s salary was raised to $145 per week, but this was just three weeks before he was let go. Now jobless, and bills mounting, the Pack household instantly faced a cold financial reality. Both Mr. Pack and his wife had college bills remaining, and their car loan still had a balance on it. There were other debts from before marriage that also still had payments to be made.

In addition, the Packs were expecting their first child in just one week…

More to the Story

More would be learned later about the outgoing CAD Director’s need to protect himself from any charges of nepotism. The picture is not pretty, but it completes a darker story.

“While the injustice to me was great, because I was married and had a child three weeks away, the injustice extended to my younger brother who had also been sent to the field in January of 1972. He went out as a junior student assigned for one year to the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area. He was one of three students sent out that year, and it was something that was done with certain men to give them extra experience. It was routine.

“Incredibly, my brother was laid off at the same time I was. This was unprecedented. First, the other two junior students were not laid off, and yet I was. So this was its own terrible injustice. But my brother’s lay-off could be seen as its own separate travesty. He was laid off so the same Church Administration Director would not look like he had protected even an extended family member of mine. What this caused for my brother is best understood in his own words. Here is his painful account:”

“Two to three junior students were sent out each year from the college as interns for a year of ministerial training in January of their junior year. They would then come back in January a year later and pick up as a second semester junior. The outgoing CAD director laid me off in the summer of 1972, after only six months in the field. The timing of this lay-off blew up my college career. When I came back to Pasadena, I was not in either class, junior or senior. So there was always the question of what class I was in, and what year I graduated.

“I went to the Registrar and asked for my expected credits for my internship. This would have given me enough credits to be in the senior class. For the first time in the history of the college, I was turned down and given no credit for my field internship. I could not advance to the next class. I could not even graduate and walk the line with my class of 1973 in the spring, alongside my wife-to-be.

“The summer of 1973 came and I still had another semester of college left. I attended that fall, worked in Mailing, then was sent to the field in spring of 1974, in May—a full year after all of my classmates had graduated and I still had not.

“I distinctly remember a lady coming up to me in Binghamton, New York, asking why she could not find my name in the Envoy. It was because I had not technically graduated from Ambassador College when I was sent to the field ministry. So I actually had to take some kind of college aptitude test and send the results into the Ambassador Registrar. I was finally put on the list to graduate and I did in the spring of 1975, two years after I would have. My picture was never in an Envoy. They sent me a diploma in the mail.

“All through my adult life, I had to answer the questions, ‘When did you graduate?’ ‘Why didn’t you graduate with your class?’ ‘Where is your picture? I can never find you in the Envoy.’ Members wanted to look back and see their minister’s picture and see what he looked like as a graduating student. I could never explain this to people logically.

“The only consolation I received was that two months after I was laid off, in late August, upon flying into LAX from the Summer Education Program, in the summer of 1972, the man who had done this to my brother and me, incredibly, was the one awaiting me at the airport. I realized there was some justice, because this ‘senior evangelist’ who loved to describe himself as ‘third in the Work’ had been justly reduced to student airport runs. Sadly, this humiliation and subsequent ones always failed to produce the fruit of humility in this man.”

Mr. Pack had certain other feelings that would come later about this.

“Over time, I sought to forgive the man for what he did to me. It was only much later that I understood the truly awful way he had crushed my brother to protect himself. Proof that I forgave him is I followed him into the Global Church of God many years later, even willing to believe that Mr. Armstrong’s very strong warning to me—that he was not converted—in fact he was stronger than this—was incorrect. I was to learn bitterly that some leopards never change their spots. Given opportunity, some will crush people for no reason if it will buy them five minutes of favor with anyone. I will never stop praying for the thousands trapped under him.”

Chapter Fourteen – In Milwaukee

Facing stark financial circumstances, Mr. Pack did the only thing he could: humbly ask his parents for help. Ran and Jane Pack understood the situation and temporarily took in their son and new daughter-in-law while they awaited the birth of their first child.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pack, who was naturally deeply wounded over what had happened, swallowed his pride and tried to repay his parents’ generosity in the only way he could—by painting their home.

This less than triumphant return to his hometown was humbling beyond what he could have imagined. As the young man painted portions of his parents’ house, he could not help but wonder what had gone wrong.

Childbirth Trial

Three weeks later—at two full weeks late—Mrs. Pack awoke her husband at 2:30 in the morning. Her water had finally broken!

They hurried to get dressed, and Mr. Pack rushed his wife to the hospital in nearby Bluffton. As with any father awaiting the birth of his firstborn, Mr. Pack was excited. He wanted to do everything he could to help the delivery process. From the hospital waiting room, the anxious father-to-be filled the time and tried to support his wife by scribbling down the minutes between her contractions on the back of an envelope. As the contractions (which lasted for hours) increased, staff took Mrs. Pack into the delivery room.

Soon after, on July 20, 1972, Randall David Pack was born.

The birth went well, except for the fact that it took so long. It did bring a 10 lbs. 2 1/2 oz. baby. However, the doctor was in such a hurry to wrap up the delivery that he tried to rush the process by pulling on the umbilical cord—but the placenta (which normally sloughs off soon after birth, via a few additional contractions) did not appear. Within minutes, the new mother began to hemorrhage!

Having never witnessed childbirth, Mr. Pack was not fully aware of the birthing procedure, neither did he at first realize the frailty and extreme danger of his wife’s post-delivery condition.

Immediately, Mr. Pack excitedly held up their newborn son for his wife to see and then placed him on her chest. By then, Mrs. Pack’s blood pressure was so dangerously low that she could not physically lift her hands to hold the baby. As she mustered a weak half-smile, the doctor pulled Mr. Pack outside the room. In minutes, the new parents went from the special joy of seeing their baby boy for the first time to the realization that Mrs. Pack’s life was in real danger.

The doctor was visibly upset with himself for his miscalculated attempt to force the situation, and apologized profusely. He then said, “Mr. Pack, I need to give your wife an IV.”

Mr. Pack was incredulous, but the doctor insisted.

“Look, I’ve got to give her an IV right now,” the physician said, “or there is a ‘50-50’ chance she will not make it!”

Mrs. Pack was losing a tremendous amount of blood—and fast!

Thinking the doctor was referring to an IV of saline solution, as is typically done in most hospitals, the new father agreed to the procedure. But Mrs. Pack, in retrospect, remembered the doctor giving her an IV of blood. Unaware of this at the time, the Packs realized they had accidentally permitted a blood transfusion, something they would never have knowingly done.

Mr. Pack understood his wife was precariously close to death. Would God heal her?

She came through the ordeal, and much faster than was thought possible. Although she had lost her ability to produce milk for the baby, Mrs. Pack had survived and begun recovery before being released two days later to return home to Lima.

“This was an unbelievable moment for a brand new 23-year-old father. I had a son! Yet it was mixed with my wife almost dying. I was stupefied. Looking back, I realize that I was also somewhat numb from lack of sleep. So was my wife. But God had brought us through.”

To Milwaukee

Still jobless, and now with a newborn baby to feed and clothe, Mr. Pack mulled his limited options. Again being forced to humble himself, he considered employment alternatives and where the family should live.

The couple agreed that Milwaukee was their best option. Being in close proximity to her parents would help Mrs. Pack and the newborn, allowing Mr. Pack to focus on finding employment. The next step was to call his still relatively new in-laws and awkwardly ask for physical assistance with the new baby if they moved to Milwaukee.

The Ochs understood their son-in-law’s predicament came through no fault of their own, and said, “Of course you can come!”

The thought of being able to see their youngest daughter and her new husband, and the new grandchild, on a regular basis thrilled the grandparents.

Mrs. Pack’s older sister and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Carl McNair, generously took the time to travel out of their way from Atlanta, Georgia, to pick up the mother and new son. Loading the back of their station wagon with just a handful of possessions, Mrs. Pack lay down in the back with her baby, surrounded by her five nieces and nephews, for the 340-mile trip to Milwaukee.

After seeing his wife and baby son safely settled, Mr. Pack departed for Indianapolis, where his brother-in-law was to meet him to retrieve the family’s furniture and personal belongings, which they would store in the garage of Mrs. Pack’s uncle, in Milwaukee.

For several weeks, the young family lived in an extra room in the Ochs’ home while Mr. Pack searched for employment. Finding a job was no easy task in 1972’s poor economy.

Jobless, no source of income to sustain his new family, and living with his in-laws, these conditions were far from what Mr. Pack had envisioned when starting a family. It seemed things could not get worse.

During this time, another harsh reality hit Mr. Pack: his own seeming lack of importance in God’s Work.

It was a lesson he would never forget—and would later teach others. This applied to his current situation. Mr. Pack realized that when he was removed from the ministry, his absence left no discernible mark. It impressed upon him throughout the rest of his life that no one is irreplaceable in God’s Work.

“When you pull your finger out of a bucket of water the rest of the water in the bucket immediately fills in the space. Afterwards there is no sign that your finger was ever there, or even that the level of the water dropped. I learned that God’s Work could function quite nicely without us.”

Lessons from Milwaukee’s “Lawrence Welk”

Mr. Pack appreciated and benefited greatly from the experience of living near the Ochs family. For someone who grew up in a relatively small family, it was quite a change to marry into the German-American culture of the Ochs. And, having come from Lima (population: perhaps 75,000) it was also quite a change to wed a “big city girl” who had grown up in a metropolitan area of a million and a half people.

Mr. Pack developed a strong bond with his in-laws, especially with his wife’s father. Whether in public or at a Church function, Peter Ochs “worked the whole crowd” talking and laughing with people. Even before he entered the Church, when he performed at the Jefferson Hall in downtown Milwaukee, Peter always took time to make sure everyone enjoyed themselves.

“This wonderful man turned out to be the ultimate father-in-law. It is almost unfair to others that I got the extraordinary blessing that was this man’s particular set of strengths from which to learn. I felt very blessed to be in a position to build a close relationship with him. I have never met anyone like him, and am quite certain I will not in the future.”

Mr. Ochs often said the following about those singing in his festival choirs, whenever critics were judgmental and self-righteous toward those they perceived to have less than perfect voices: “If only the best birds sang, the woods would be a dull place.”

Regarding his father-in-law’s trips to Germany, Mr. Pack said,

“He played big, powerful music that electrified and elevated people. They would literally hang out of the windows as he marched down the street, excited to see an American German visiting their country and doing things that Germans no longer did, but used to do all the time.”

Even though he was a respected musician, Peter was neither a formally educated man nor an officially trained music educator. At times, formally trained music educators, or “small mouths” (as Mr. Ochs referred to them), looked down on him because he did not want to play their kind of music. Sadly, so did some (a relative few) in the Church.

Because of his reputation for playing music that appealed to large crowds, he and the Conntinentals were invited to be the official representatives of the United States at the Munich Olympics in 1972. However, due to an ill-advised decision by a district superintendent minister, he was not permitted to make the trip.

Mrs. Pack’s father adhered to a strict code of ethics and morality, and sought to obey God and to teach the difference between right and wrong as he understood it.

Wise, practical, fun-loving and full of common sense, Peter Ochs became one of the most influential men in Mr. Pack’s life. Peter’s kindness, generosity and personal example left a lasting impression upon the young man, driving Mr. Pack throughout his ministry to always focus on making people feel included.

“During this time in Milwaukee, I was able to observe my father-in-law in regard to two big endeavors that he organized and led within the two large Milwaukee congregations: all matters pertaining to special music, and large-scale fundraising through fruit and candy sales. By observing his extraordinary organizational skills, my pastorates would be able ever after to enjoy the same kind of positive results—results that led to $10,000, $20,000 and $30,000 raised in fundraising in the 1980s every year through these very same projects, as well as beef sausage sales that we undertook in Buffalo.

“My father-in-law would also later come to each of my areas and put on a choir seminar with the local leaders. He would teach them how to create a more effective choir with broader participation. He also showed us how to incorporate brass and other instrumentation into the sound.”

Treated Well

There were other happy elements of the year in Milwaukee. The Packs were very involved in the young adult group. Because there were almost 800 people in the congregation by 1972, this was a large group with which to fellowship. Mr. Pack was naturally given opportunity to help organize certain activities. There were elements of organization which were learned. Mr. Pack also played on the men’s basketball team.

“But there was other training that was offered to me. It would turn out not to be a year where I was left out of opportunities to still grow toward a future role in the ministry. The pastor invited me over to his home to play cards on occasion. He and his wife were very encouraging in going out of their way to include us. He also instructed that I have the opportunity to visit on occasion with the associate pastor. And I did make a certain number of visits during that year.”

Draft Board Troubles

Once Mr. Pack was officially laid off, Church Headquarters by law had to notify the U.S. draft board that he was no longer employed as a minister and was no longer under “4-D” status—meaning he became eligible to be drafted to fight in the Vietnam War.

Mr. Pack soon received a letter notifying him that he had been moved up to “1-A” status, with instructions to soon report to the military base in Columbus, Ohio, for a physical examination.

Of course, Mr. Pack did not intend to violate the laws of God, and held firm to his conscientious objector position. His predicament was that, in the best case scenario, the mandatory alternative to combat training was entering a government-sponsored work program. This typically consisted of two years of laboring on a dairy farm, or something similar, with little pay.

First beseeching God, Mr. Pack did everything possible within the law to avoid military service. If it were determined that he had to report for duty, he was set to refuse, knowing this could result in his being sent to prison, as had happened with some.

The young father heard that if a draftee measured beyond a certain height at the physical, the board would refuse him. Hoping to be considered too tall, he devised a plan to “lengthen” himself before reporting for his physical in Columbus. He wanted to stall in every way possible to give God time to intervene.

The morning of his physical, Mr. Pack stayed in bed for as long as he could stand it to allow the discs in his back to expand so he could be measured at maximum height. Standing as straight as possible, he measured at, but not over, the exact limit of 6’8”—a full inch taller than he had ever been previously measured.

In the meantime, Mr. Pack prepared a paper defending his position as a conscientious objector. He drove back to Lima and, accompanied by his wife and father, appeared before the draft board.

It turned out that several of the men on the board were fellow members of the Shawnee Country Club and knew Ran was a dedicated World War II veteran who would not back his son if he were not sincere. Two of the men were also readers of The Plain Truth. The board members politely asked Mr. Pack about the magazine.

After he answered all the board’s questions, they began to determine how they could give him conscientious objector status while not forcing him to report for mandatory work duty, since his wife had just given birth.

The board members, after a short deliberation, approved Mr. Pack’s status, perhaps partly due to his borderline height at 6’8”—and because his father was their friend. The men casually said, “Forget it.”

To Mr. Pack, it was evident God had intervened on his behalf. (The draft board had even, in sympathy, questioned the circumstances behind the young man’s layoff.)

The national draft ended sometime shortly after the meeting, with the end of the Vietnam War. It was the last time that Mr. Pack ever had to be concerned about his status as a conscientious objector. But he could also more effectively counsel others facing problems with the military.

Finally—A Job!

Though ecstatic that God had delivered him, there was no time to celebrate. Instead, Mr. Pack immediately returned to job hunting in Milwaukee.

The young man was referred to a businessman attending the local congregation, who was co-owner and vice-president of a pipe company; his brother was also a co-owner and president.

Mr. Pack was hired as an “inside pipe salesman” (despite having never worked in sales and knowing nothing about pipes) because the vice-president was on the Ambassador College Board of Directors, and wanted to help the AC graduate. Mr. Pack recalled this man as having been very generous and helpful at a time of great need. He brought employment “salvation.”

The position enabled the Packs to move out of the Ochs’ tiny spare room and into a small apartment on the north side of the city.

It became evident that, although he clearly was not a pipe salesman, Mr. Pack possessed promising leadership capabilities. The vice-president informed him soon after he was hired that “It is our plan to make you the office manager in time.”

With high hopes about the potential promotion, the Packs attended the Feast at Wisconsin Dells. There they met a district superintendent in Western Canada. The man made it clear that he wanted to rehire Mr. Pack into God’s Work as soon as possible, only this time as his own ministerial assistant.

The Packs returned home full of optimism, having enjoyed a wonderful Feast. Though excited about the possibility of soon re-entering the ministry, Mr. Pack still prepared for the promised promotion back in Milwaukee.

However, a longtime employee of the company, who had been recently disfellowshipped from the Church, was upset that Mr. Pack was allowed to take time off to observe the Feast. He complained to the company president, a non-member. Though the disgruntled employee’s concerns had nothing to do with the young man’s work performance, the president did not want Church issues affecting his business. Since Mr. Pack was the newer of the two employees, he was let go to avoid any potential problems. It was probably for the best, because Mr. Pack has said he “was not very good at the job.”

Call to Pasadena

Next, Mr. Pack called the new Director of Church Administration to follow up on the possibility of being hired into the Canadian ministry.

“Dave, we do not think that you are a good fit for Canada,” he was told. “The openings there are mostly in the smaller, western prairie congregations. Being from the United States, we think you are more naturally suited for the United States ministry. Be patient. Your time will eventually come.”

He continued, “Just let a little time pass. Even though I know you were unjustly laid off, it will not look good to immediately hire you back and overrule the previous decision (made by the man whom he had replaced four months earlier). Just hang in there. We will get back to you in the spring. I give you my word.” (It was in this conversation that the man reported his predecessor’s rationale for letting the Packs go “because they were family.”)

Again, more politics, but at least a kindly, encouraging response had been given.

Finding a New Job

But spring was a long way off. The freezing Milwaukee winter was fast approaching and Mr. Pack was back where he started, with limited job opportunities in a depressed economy.

He returned to interviewing and applying for jobs, determined to find a way to support his family.

One day he walked into the office of the owner of Dunhill Personnel Services and interviewed for the position of an employment counselor. After the interview, the man said, “Well, thank you very much for coming. We’ll get back to you.”

He then opened the door to show the young man out.

Determined, Mr. Pack decided he was not going to let the chance slip away. He had to find a job to feed his young family.

He thought back to a story his father had told long ago: Once during a job interview, Ran Pack leaned across the desk, looked the owner of a company in the eye, and said, “If you hire me, all I’m going to do is make you money.”

Stunned by the applicant’s unbelievable confidence, the man hired him on the spot. Ran Pack went on to be the company’s best salesman for 16 of the 19 years he was in its employ.

Mr. Pack had nothing to lose. He summoned the boldness his father had shown, turned around in his chair, looked the interviewer in the eye, and said, “Well, I can do this job, and if you want someone who is going to make you money, you should hire me!”

The audaciousness of the statement caught the man off guard. He immediately shut the door, returned to his desk, and sat back down.

“Let’s talk some more when I have time,” he said. “You should return for a second visit. I want you to meet some people in the office.”

The time was left unclear.

Very Last Dime

Before this job prospect arose, the Packs were struggling to endure the hardest financial period of their lives. And adding to their difficulties, it was Mr. Pack’s third tithe year, beginning after the Feast. As instructed in the Bible, every third year in a seven-year-cycle, God requires His people to pay 10 percent of their gross income to assist widows and orphans in the Church.

The Packs would go on to diligently pay from what little they had—not discovering until later, when they were forced to ask the Church for one-time assistance, that they would not have been required to pay third tithe due to their dire financial condition.

Sitting in their apartment that cold November night, Mr. and Mrs. Pack took inventory of their circumstances: The car’s heater was broken—there was barely any gas in the tank—they had no food—and their four-month-old baby boy was crying from hunger pains, yet they had nothing to feed him.

With his hungry baby wailing in the background, and not a penny in the bank, Mr. Pack reached into his pocket and pulled out his very last dime. As he sat at the kitchen table, he held the 10 cent coin up to the light and prayed with his wife, “Father, I’ve got one dime and my baby is hungry! What do we do? Please provide something for our child.”

It was a sobering moment. The Packs were at a crossroads that was testing their faith to the limit. They resolved to trust God to provide for their needs as He had done in the past—no matter what. They prayed that God would take care of them, and reaffirmed that they would never compromise His Law.


Within minutes, Mrs. Pack’s father called. A music student had requested a flute lesson and the regular teacher was unavailable. Peter Ochs wanted to know if his daughter was available to teach a lesson. (Rarely, if ever, did students make requests like this on such short notice.) To Mrs. Pack’s delight, she taught two lessons that evening, earning seven dollars!—enough money to buy milk for the baby.

Their phone rang the next morning.

“Where are you?” asked the owner of Dunhill Personnel Services. Mr. Pack had not understood that the “suggestion” to return to their office was actually a firm appointment for the day following. He immediately rushed out and drove to the second interview, and was offered a job—to begin the next day.

In just 24 hours, the Packs’ financial circumstances changed drastically, no doubt through divine intervention. They were learning that God often tests a Christian’s faith, hoping he will succeed, while the devil tempts one, hoping he will abandon it. In this case, their faith almost seemed tested beyond what they could bear—yet the situation affirmed that God always delivers, no matter how dark circumstances may appear to be.

But the story—and God’s miracles—continued.

And More

Mr. Pack reported to his new job the next day, wearing only a light coat for protection from the bitter Milwaukee weather. During his four years in Southern California, he never had the need (or the money) for a winter coat. And he could not yet afford to buy one during his year in Indianapolis.

When the new manager saw this, he asked, “Don’t you have a warmer coat? You’re not in California anymore!”

The new employee explained he did not have the money to purchase anything else.

The manager replied, “This is Milwaukee, Wisconsin! It’s November and it’s snowing outside! I will advance you your first month’s salary of $1,000 so you can buy a decent coat.”

Mr. Pack went home, picked up his wife and went shopping to purchase what would be an extra long, warm navy overcoat, lined in red, white and blue plaid. It hangs in his closet today as a reminder that God always provides during times of need. He still periodically wears it, over 36 years later, to remind himself of this 24-hour period of his life. He has remarked, “I will never throw it away.”

The Packs’ growing faith and patient endurance in waiting on God was starting to pay off.

“The Bible says four separate times that ‘the just shall live by his faith.’ This became true for my wife and I at a level that few ever get to experience. When you have nothing, and a near blizzard of blessings suddenly rips you right out of a dark hole into the sunshine, because you kept your eye on God’s promises, it greatly adds to whatever faith you had.”

Nonetheless, their lives did not suddenly become easy. After paying three tithes on the gross income ($300) and having about another $200 in taxes deducted from his monthly salary, only about $500 was left each month for rent, utilities food, gas, clothing, haircuts, loan repayment—and everything else. But Mrs. Pack’s continued teaching of flute lessons helped make it work.

“By two months later of course the heater on our car was fixed. In January we went back to Indianapolis to show my former pastor our new baby boy. Just as we left to return home the heater broke again. There was no place open on Sunday night to fix the heater. We had to drive the rest of the five-hour-trip with a six-month-old baby in zero degree weather with no heat. It was absolutely bitter cold, and we were doing all in our power to prevent our child—and ourselves—from getting pneumonia. We would periodically open the dashboard vent just to try to get a little engine heat in. We told ourselves it was working. The next day it was fixed. What a trial!”

Promotion that “Never Came”

Mr. Pack’s new position involved teaching people how to properly search for jobs and conduct effective interviews. He was paid entirely based on how many people he could successfully “place.” Although confident, largely due to the priceless leadership training he had received at Ambassador, his job depended on his ability to instill confidence in others so that they could interview well—and be hired! Mr. Pack’s on-the-job training provided him valuable experience in training and motivating others. He would be able to use it many times later to help brethren successfully find employment.

As the counselor for the consumer products division, he worked with several large companies, including Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson. He also worked with various insurance companies, which helped to further broaden his business experience.

“My wife and I had a routine. We had one car. We lived quite a ways from downtown, and she would have to take me to work and pick me up. Her parents’ music store was on the way. Her mother would be waiting at the curb to pick up our son every day as we passed on the way to work.”

Mr. Pack became effective enough in his position in such a short amount of time that corporate recruiters with whom he was trying to place employees several times attempted to recruit him. However, since all wanted him to move from Milwaukee, he turned down their job offers, as he still hoped to be rehired into the ministry that spring.

After six months with Dunhill, the man who had hired him called the young man to his office. He explained that Mr. Pack was doing such a fine job that he would shortly be promoted to the position of training manager over all new employees (in a relatively good-sized company)—quite a step up for a man still in his early twenties.

Back into the Ministry

The very next day another surprise came: a phone call inviting Mr. Pack to return to the full-time ministry! And the following day, June 23, 1973, he was rehired into the Work of God—exactly one year to the day since he had been laid off.

Those months of trial, uncertainty and struggling to make ends meet were firmly etched into the minds of Mr. and Mrs. Pack. They learned firsthand lessons of faithful endurance, from which they could later teach brethren as they encountered their own tests and setbacks.

The Packs would later draw strength from the memory of their experiences whenever seemingly insurmountable obstacles arose.

“Our year in Milwaukee was far from a year of lost cause in growth toward the ministry, and this was about to become evident. In fact, I have often looked at the year in Milwaukee as the single most valuable year in my training—by far.

“Most ministers never got to do what I did—and I do mean got to do, not had to do. I have mentioned in my books to the splinters how ministers did not have to experience—meaning suffer—the same kinds of things as did others on a routine basis. If I may put it this way, I am very glad the Director of CAD was so concerned about himself that he would step on me. Otherwise, I could never have truly learned how brethren must live.

“This year put me in a position for the rest of my life to understand certain trials that God’s people would face in a way that other ministers would simply never be able to know in the same way—losing a job for keeping God’s Feast, paying third tithe, struggling to find a job, the office environment of a typical workplace in this world (I saw two), battling a draft board, persecution on the job, and in my case from an ex-member, the need to demonstrate faith during extreme financial difficulties, the near death of my wife in childbirth, and so much more. It opened up the reality of life in the trenches where God’s people all lived.

“By every account, Milwaukee was an extraordinary year in my life.”

Chapter Fifteen – Rockford—Back in the Ministry

The unbelievable year of trials, obstacles and learning experiences in Milwaukee was finally over, and Mr. Pack was hired back into the ministry. After being forced to learn many aspects of patience, the rehired ministerial assistant was eager to return to what he was called and trained to do.

Midwestern City

The field ministry was undergoing a restructuring in 1973, and, after careful consideration, the new Regional Director (RD) in Chicago requested Mr. Pack for an assignment in Rockford, Illinois. This was, in a sense, a significant promotion that sent the young ministerial assistant beyond where he would have been had he not been laid off.

Mr. Don Waterhouse, the previous pastor of the North Chicago/Rockford circuit, had not desired to live in the crowded metropolis of Chicago. Instead, he had chosen to reside 90 miles to the west in Rockford, a smaller city with a small congregation at the other end of his circuit. This was an unusual decision since most senior pastors who led more than one congregation in their pastorate chose to live in the city with the largest number of brethren. But Rockford was a less expensive place to live. (Chicago was an enormous area divided into four congregations under separate pastors, with Rockford the fifth “satellite church” attached to the Chicago Northwest congregation. There were 150 brethren in Rockford, while North Chicago had about 350.)

The Packs moved in one week to an apartment in the east side of Rockford. This permitted Mr. Pack to immediately “jump in” and benefit from the outgoing minister before he was gone in 30 days. Don Waterhouse was very kind to Mr. Pack and showed him the ropes.

One month after Mr. Pack moved to Rockford, Mr. Waterhouse was transferred to a new assignment. The pastor replacing him, Mr. Pack’s new supervisor, chose to live in Chicago. There were also three additional men coming to Chicago, including the “RD,” his assistant and another associate pastor, all to the Northwest church.

There was already another full-time local elder in the Northwest congregation, a local man dating to the mid-1950s in the Church who had never been to Ambassador College. He quickly, but quietly, developed resentment regarding the fact that four new men were coming into Chicago, all to be over him, and a fifth was going to Rockford, with the obvious meaning being that his duties would be significantly diminished. But, when the Packs arrived, the Rockford area had only one deacon and one deaconess, the man’s wife.

“You will spend the majority of your time in Rockford,” the incoming minister told him, “and I or another man will come out to give most of the sermons. Headquarters is moving toward ‘one man, one church,’ so I will primarily work in Chicago, with you out here.”

The Rockford brethren received the ministerial assistant and his wife almost as they would a resident pastor, partly because they had become accustomed to having the previous pastor reside among them, and partly because Mr. Pack rarely traveled to Chicago and the pastor rarely came to Rockford. Most of the visiting load, as well as conducting Bible Studies and helping to coordinate socials, and certain other duties fell on the young couple.

Within weeks, Mr. Pack had gone from teaching people how to interview for jobs to virtually pastoring a congregation.

Unexpected Help

Despite being an unordained young man at age 24, Mr. Pack was now largely—and suddenly—“on his own” in the ministry. Rockford was his first real opportunity to learn and grow with some independence as a speaker, leader and counselor. He occasionally gave sermons or split sermons—and welcomed the challenge.

After being catapulted into this new quasi-“pastorate,” the Packs were excited, but a little overwhelmed. Much opportunity was coming at them.

Shortly after relocating and getting familiar with the Rockford brethren, Mr. Pack was introduced to a 42-year-old deacon, who previously had been attending services in Peoria, Illinois. Mr. Don Morse lived in Rock Falls, on Morris Street, and had been in God’s Church for 17 years.

Because Mr. Pack was a ministerial assistant, he was technically “in charge.” Yet Mr. Morse had been a deacon for eight years, and was ordained before Mr. Pack read his first Plain Truth. Mr. Morse, a veteran of the Korean War, was also an accomplished carpenter. In the young man’s eyes, this seasoned veteran of the Church was a welcome sight—a practical, common sense man with a long history in the Church that would present much from which he could learn.

Since there were no local church elders serving in Rockford’s small farming community, Mr. Pack took Mr. Morse on many ministerial visits. Because the older man was a self-employed builder, his flexible schedule allowed him to always be available to accompany Mr. Pack. They would pick locations to meet and then visit all the people in that area.

The arrangement also worked out wonderfully since Mrs. Pack was not always able to go visiting with her husband. She was home taking care of their son, with another baby soon on the way. Her second “due date” would be 11 months into the assignment.

The ministerial assistant and deacon drove many miles together, cutting across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, counseling with members, and visiting and baptizing potential members.

On their trips, the men told stories to pass the time. Mr. Morse was a storyteller extraordinaire, and Mr. Pack eagerly listened to him relate his experiences. The two developed a unique bond that became a wonderful friendship that would last over 35 years. (In fact, Mr. Pack was still enjoying Mr. Morse’s stories literally just hours before his death, on January 12, 2009.) The friends came through tremendous adversity and many trials, some sore. While the assistant could not have understood it at the time, the arrival of this older veteran of God’s Church was a tremendous help to the young man’s early ministry.

Spokesman Club Director

Mr. Pack was soon called on to actually direct the local Spokesman Club, the field version of Ambassador Club. Most congregations had at least one Club, in which members learned to “think on their feet” in giving impromptu answers during Table Topics sessions, to deliver speeches, give helpful evaluations, and develop as leaders while they saw the government of God in action. Though Mr. Pack had never before directed, or even been an assistant director of one of these speech clubs, he was suddenly very grateful to have served in several offices within Ambassador Club. He also appreciated Mr. Morse being there to unofficially assist.

Before he came to Rockford, the Worldwide Church of God made a change that had slight implications on Mr. Pack’s new assignment. Until 1973, new hires were called “ministerial assistants.” However, the new Director of the Church Administration Department (CAD) changed the title to “ministerial trainee”—without Mr. Armstrong’s knowledge. While this administrative change seemed inconsequential to almost everyone, it carried wide implications in Mr. Pack’s (and others’) ministry:

“At the time, I remember the new title ‘trainee’ solidified a demeaning stereotype in many ministers’ minds that the assistants they were assigned existed solely for the personal benefit of the pastor, not for the needs of the local congregation.

“This change also suggested that adult young men with four marvelous years of Ambassador College experience were still ‘in training-pants.’ This simple name change was an example of so many other seemingly small administrative changes that had a cumulative negative effect. Being a ‘trainee’ sounded very different than did being an ‘assistant,’ and the brethren felt the difference.

“The change reminded me of the menial, non-Church-related tasks that I was asked to do in Indianapolis instead of serving the local brethren and learning vital skills that would lead toward ordination and future service of God’s flock as a Church pastor. We are all trainees of a sort, so this means no one need be called one.”

In the Background

Further complications arose when an older local elder in Chicago, as well as a deacon in Rockford (not Mr. Morse) and a couple of brethren close to the deacon, perceived Mr. Pack as acting like an associate pastor (a role always held by an ordained elder, and sometimes full ministers), or even more like an outright pastor in the Rockford congregation. Some setup is necessary.

Though only an unordained assistant, the time spent in Rockford was completely different from his assignment in Indianapolis. The good-sized Illinois farming community offered a wealth of experience he used to expand and develop tangible organizational skills, to employ a set weekly schedule, and to utilize his education. Most importantly, he regularly conducted long days visiting the brethren—every member of the congregation more than once, plus prospective members. Above everything, Mr. Pack found that he loved to visit and talk with people.

As a result, a phenomenal growth appeared: In just 18 months, the local congregation grew from an average attendance of 150 people each Sabbath, to an average of 225, and sometimes close to 240! Rockford became the fastest-growing congregation in the Worldwide Church of God, and this during the early liberal years, when most congregations were either not growing any longer or were already declining in size. The four ministers in Chicago Northwest were seeing no growth.

Mr. and Mrs. Pack’s second son, Robert William (Robby), was born on May 18, 1974. This baby was only 9 lbs. 8 oz.!

“We now had our second son. If it could be said that the first looked more like me, our second baby was an obvious clone of his Grandfather Ochs—almost from birth forward. We were tremendously excited to have another little boy so close in age to our first son. We had been preparing Randy for another arrival. I will never forget how this excited 22-month-old was a little confused—and frustrated—when we brought home a brother with whom he could not immediately play. But the boys would soon enough become the best of friends. Until they grew up, I could not envision my sons in my mind without seeing them together.”

1974 Rebellion

The size of the Rockford pastorate continued to grow, yet it was evident that a “wind of discontent” was slowly sweeping through the Church. To some degree, this coincided with the appointment of a new CAD Director. But there were other factors.

A growing number of ministers and leaders in the Church, in part led by the CAD Director and Garner Ted Armstrong, began changing certain long-held doctrines and Church traditions. They and other like-minded men opened up “all doctrine for examination” and, taking a more “open-minded” view, began to overtly liberalize the Church in many areas.

Mr. Pack, who gradually noticed this liberal trend, was more than surprised to learn that some in the ministry held different doctrinal views from Mr. Armstrong. Never before had this been seen on a scale greater than one minister here or one there who deviated from the Pastor General’s teachings. This was new.

Mr. Pack came to understand why certain ministers held a skewed outlook on doctrine—they had been quietly holding different doctrines for some time! Though they did not necessarily agree with each other on all the details, these men began to “find each other”—and their “watering down” of certain truths gave a welcomed new “freedom” that even then many members seemed only too willing to accept and enjoy.

In addition, these self-deceived men naturally found themselves disgruntled with Mr. Herbert Armstrong. They began to question his authority, the role of Church government, and the way the Pastor General led the Church, Work and even the colleges. This was in direct violation of what the Church had understood for over two decades regarding God’s government.

To make matters worse, it was common knowledge that Garner Ted Armstrong had been engaging in various forms of grave and repeated personal misconduct. This hypocrisy at such a high level led to further criticism of Church leadership. Of course, many ministers found fault with how they perceived Ted’s behavior was being handled.

Whether they knew it or not, questioning authority on even small issues is a slippery slope. If a leader is willing to question Church government on a small decision, what would stop him from doing so on a larger scale?

Unbeknownst to the Pastor General, these murmuring ministers slowly added to their number through quiet recruiting—looking for more “loose bricks,” because misery—and insurrection—loves company. This behind-the-scenes movement was growing toward outright rebellion. The quiet uprising gained momentum and eventually erupted Church-wide in February 1974. A small group of senior leaders departed and formed a new organization. Initially led by the CAD Director, with most of the regional directors following, more than 3,000 members departed from the Worldwide Church of God in a matter of days. Some entire congregations, depending upon the position of the pastor, were almost wiped out because their ministers “puked” (the term commonly used to describe their actions) on them with supposed “inside facts of what’s happening” on top of liberal doctrine.

The plain goal was to make a case that “Mr. Armstrong is running this thing all wrong.”

The rebellious regional directors had quietly lumped ministers (and to a degree brethren) in their regions into two groups: “the Protestants”—those who wanted to reform (“grow”) and leave behind the Church and Mr. Armstrong—and “the Catholics”—those who were said to be “blindly following Mr. Armstrong.” These senior leaders derisively labeled anyone (these were the terms) who chose to loyally follow Church government under God’s apostle, claiming such brethren were non-progressive, closed-minded “Armstrong-worshippers.” (This term would return 20 years later, when even worse doctrinal changes occurred in the Worldwide Church of God, and in the organizations that later splintered from it.)

Though these men’s actions and claims were shocking, Mr. Pack was not privy to, or in any way included in, the secret craft and planning that was underway. Even his brothers-in-law told him little, and perhaps knew little themselves. Instead of approaching Mr. Armstrong directly, these men quietly publicized rumors and the conduct of Ted Armstrong in an attempt to embarrass the Church and its Pastor General.

Caught in Crossfire

The young ministerial assistant was caught in the crossfire of a power struggle right in the Chicago area—and his extended family fell on both sides of the division.

On one side, one of Mrs. Pack’s sisters was married to a man whose older brother was near the heart of the rebellion. On the other side, Mrs. Pack’s other sister was married to the brother-in-law of Roderick Meredith, the previous CAD Director. Effectively, Mr. Pack’s two brothers-in-law were directly connected to the two men who had just changed positions at the top, directly under Mr. Armstrong.

These were difficult times!

Another reason Mr. Pack found himself in the midst of the confusion is because the RD in Chicago was among those who were the first to leave the Church. The pastor, new associate pastor and the RD’s assistant pastor only decided to remain in the WCG at the last moment.

After this schism, the Church went through another period of reorganization, and all the men whom Mr. Pack worked beside in the Chicago/Rockford area were either transferred or left the Church.

An older, soft-spoken and kindly minister replaced the defecting leader in Chicago. This man had been Mrs. Pack’s childhood minister in Milwaukee as early as 1959, and had actually lived in the upstairs apartment above her parent’s home. He was a welcome sight.

Upon taking over his new assignment, the new pastor informed Mr. Pack he could not yet ordain him a local elder, since all ordinations worldwide had been frozen—a period that would last from April to December 1974.

However, his new supervisor did expand the young man’s authority, telling him, “You can conduct Bible studies, baptize people, even lay hands on, and anoint with cloths that I will send you in this interim period until Headquarters permits ordinations again.”

Miracle Like None Other

Everyone has moments when they have wondered if God delivered him. On some occasions one can be certain.

“A lot of brethren in the Rockford congregation lived along the big, wide Rock River, which ran through Rockford, and then southwest for at least 100 miles until it emptied into the Mississippi River. It was a long, beautiful drive, and I looked forward to every time I could do it.

“Early one morning I took off to visit, heading down Highway 2. There were stretches of road where on the right side was a steep embankment, and on the left side was a long, sharp drop-off down to the river’s edge, and a guardrail. The traffic would often back up in this area because it was a two-lane highway—and there were really no shoulders in this stretch of the road.

“A young man’s negligence and impatience almost got him killed. I pulled out to pass from behind a truck that was blocking my view, and realized immediately that I could not clear the truck and return to my lane in time. I had not seen a pick-up truck barreling toward me. I tried to slow back into the spot just vacated, but a Cadillac had filled in behind me.

“There was absolutely nothing I could do—I could not go left or right. No time remaining, the truck would now hit me head on—except nothing happened. As it reached me, both of us going about 60 mph, it simply passed right through my vehicle. One moment it was in front of my hood, the next it was in my rearview mirror.

“My life had been spared by divine intervention! I have never doubted what happened that day in 1974. I only wonder if anyone else involved was aware as I was of what had occurred.

“Coupled with other interventions to spare my life, I am living proof that God heals and delivers, sometimes even when it is partly to protect us from ourselves.”

Greater Responsibility

When it came time to baptize prospective members, Mr. Pack learned he did not need to be ordained to perform this ceremony. As long as an unordained man submitted to God’s government in the Church and carefully followed the instruction and guidance of the minister in charge, baptisms could be performed.

The inexperienced ministerial assistant had not thought through until then that Mr. Armstrong, in the 1950s, had authorized older Ambassador students who were unordained, but who were in training for the ministry, to perform baptisms on the summer “baptizing tours.”

The young man’s Rockford assignment soon led to delivering sermons. In one of these first longer messages, “Learning to Become People, People,” he taught the congregation how to be fellow helpers, heirs and laborers in God’s Work. He examined places in the Bible where the Greek word phalage, or “fellow” (meaning “companions of equal rank or service”), was used, and explained how this differed from ranks in the government of God.

It was also in Rockford that Mr. Pack first anointed someone, using one of several anointed cloths that would regularly be given to him by the pastor.

The ministerial assistant patiently waited for Headquarters to approve his ordination, using the time to learn under his new mentor. But this man was not happy to have been transferred to the large city of Chicago—for the second time—and only very little involved himself in offering any real training. He explained that he “was tired.”

When the ordination freeze was finally over, Mr. Pack was scheduled to be ordained when a visiting Headquarters minister would be in town.

Childish Resentment

Finding it difficult to submit to the authority of such a young man from the beginning, and resenting him for conducting visits with Don Morse, new to the area, the other deacon in Rockford followed the lead of the longtime elder in Chicago. He set out to help stop Mr. Pack’s ordination, and the matter culminated the day it was to take place. These two leaders erroneously grouped Mr. Pack with the local liberals who had just left the Church. The deacon and elder’s resentful attitude grew over a period of many months, particularly as they saw the ministerial assistant receive even more responsibility after the new pastor arrived in April.

The day before Mr. Pack’s ordination, the group made their move—in effect, accusing him of “guilt by association”! How ironic. This is the only time Mr. Pack’s name has ever been linked to the word “LIBERAL!” In fact, it was he who had called Headquarters warning that a rebellion was brewing in Chicago. At the same time, he had been in touch with his brothers-in-law regarding the matter. It made no sense that Mr. Pack would, after being rehired into God’s ministry, somehow plan to almost immediately take himself right back out of it—and the Church!—to follow men he knew were off track in doctrine, tradition and conduct.

The accusation was ridiculous.

Mr. Pack was called to a Chicago hotel, where, alongside the minister from Headquarters, he was required to sit and listen to their charges, as a number of others sat as witnesses to the proceeding.

The deacon and elder falsely accused Mr. Pack of conspiring with the liberals in Chicago. This was despite the fact that he had nothing to do with what they had been planning. They had not one shred of evidence other than their “feelings,” and what they just “knew” had to have been going on. But when it was explained to them, they could not see that they had no evidence, and thus no case. The facts actually pointed directly the other way.

This would not be the last time charges were leveled against Mr. Pack in an almost tribunal atmosphere and setting. This event was a preview of things to come—twice more 20 years later. Looking back, it indicates that God already had His hand on him in a remarkable way. While the devil was desperately trying to attack Mr. Pack, like Satan’s attempts to destroy Job, God never seemed to let these false accusers completely get rid of the object of their hatred. (Not long after, the deacon was reported to have left the Church and to have opened a restaurant on the Sabbath. The local elder died a little later.)

This was a difficult time in the Church as a whole. The Headquarters representative wisely chose to halt Mr. Pack’s ordination until things quieted down. A reassignment to Cincinnati, Ohio, now even looked better, he told the couple.

“It is good that you are leaving the area for a variety of reasons,” the leader assured him. “The biggest one is that it will be best for you to have a fresh start. We will soon ordain you in Cincinnati. However, we have to wait until you are there a few months so you can get settled in.”

Chapter Sixteen – Cincinnati—Learning More

Mr. Pack valued the experience that he had gained in Rockford, but he looked forward to putting the controversy there behind him. It was difficult for the Packs to say goodbye to brethren to whom they had grown very close, especially to Mr. Morse. Thankfully, this would not be the last time these two men would see each other.

There were also certain other families that they would miss, families of similar age who also had small children.

Now the family was moving to its fourth city in three and a half years. It looked like this might be a little longer assignment—but perhaps the last one before becoming a pastor, and then going on to a longer assignment, usually seven to nine years, which is what pastors were told they could expect. Assistants usually had one, two or rarely three shorter assignments before such a promotion.

The Packs arrival in Cincinnati was inauspicious. They drove from Rockford in their used black Lincoln. Just as they entered the edge of the city, coming down an “on ramp,” they encountered something they had not experienced, right as they should be entering and merging into an expressway—a stop sign!

They ran into the back of a stopped vehicle. It would be some weeks before the hood of his car could be opened, because it was stuck shut, and the couple was not yet able to afford to get it fixed. However, they were able to quickly find a house to rent.

Stable Pastor

Mr. Pack was reassigned to the Cincinnati area because the associate pastor (and later the ministerial assistant) there had recently fallen away. The pastor, Mr. Jim Reyer, had remained faithful. His strength of leadership was the reason that only a few left the Church following either these men or other liberals during the rebellion of early 1974.

Mr. Pack credits much of his ministerial development to Mr. Reyer, whom he describes as the minister most influential—by far—in his training.

“Mr. Reyer was perhaps the wisest minister I directly worked for in all of my ministerial training. Probably no one else is even a close second. I still consider him one of the best teachers and examples of practical wisdom and common sense when it came to understanding human nature, dealing with brethren and understanding demon possession. Also, there was not a cowardly bone in his body. No one was in doubt of his character or courage. This man was a study in rugged individualism.

“Sadly, there was serious tension between the pastors in the area. One of them had been a regional director until the rebellion of just 10 months earlier. Mr. Reyer had stood his ground, loyal to the Church. It was evident from the moment I arrived, however, that there was an uneasy truce in the air. The third pastor was a quiet personality, who somewhat mitigated the atmosphere. We would go on to be good friends for many years, until circumstances would dramatically change.”

Multi-church City

Cincinnati’s four-congregation area was an unusual opportunity to solidify one’s ministerial and administrative foundations. Working with the Cincinnati North (325 brethren) and West (250) congregations provided a second opportunity to serve in a large metropolitan area, but this time one that had four different congregations, totaling between 1,200 and 1,300 people.

A visit from Mr. Armstrong would boost attendance to as many as 5,000 people, with brethren from congregations in Ohio (Columbus, Dayton and Portsmouth) Indiana (Indianapolis and Columbus) and Kentucky (Louisville and Lexington).

The people in Cincinnati were very different from those in Rockford and southern Wisconsin. Over 60 percent of people in the greater Cincinnati area had roots in eastern Kentucky. For those who know that area, this speaks for itself. Some of the brethren exhibited more “ornery” or “cantankerous” attitudes than usual. Of course many were very nice people. Obviously, the area reflected that a rebellion had recently taken place throughout the Church. But the pastor’s strength had kept many feelings “under wraps.”

“Jim Reyer understood human nature like few I have known. He also had extraordinary discernment of people’s attitudes. He used to talk about ‘hitting into human nature’ through sermons and Church Bible studies. This man understood that certain kinds of more direct messages about vanity, jealousy, resentment, envy, pride, and so forth, would bring feelings to the surface in the congregation that might otherwise stay hidden. He felt it was his duty to speak fairly bluntly on a regular basis.

“This is perhaps where Mr. Reyer showed his greatest courage as a minister. He absolutely never feared in sermons to say what the people needed to hear in lieu of what they may have wanted to hear. In this regard, he had people who would die for him—and others who wanted him to die.

“Mr. Armstrong very much understood you have to speak to human nature—and when you do, plenty of it can surface in the congregation. It did periodically come out in Cincinnati, that’s for sure. The pastor on the other side of town could not have been more opposite in style—nothing but encouraging messages, ever—hence some of the tension I mentioned. I tried to learn what I could about how to avoid meddling in strife that belonged to others.

“Mr. Reyer was very similar to my father. I am convinced that God sent me to work under him so that I would receive what would almost be a ‘second witness’ to my father’s example. Just 26 when I arrived, with Mr. Reyer in his early 40s, he confirmed in my training and understanding how leadership is always willing to take a stand in difficult moments, no matter the personal price one might have to pay.”

Closer Supervision

The new assignment did come with less personal freedom, however. With the pastor only 15 minutes away—not 90 miles—there were naturally fewer opportunities to lead and organize for the ministerial assistant. In a way, Cincinnati would have been an ideal place for any young just-out-of-college assistant to start his ministerial learning process. Rockford would then have been a perfect assignment to follow, not precede, Cincinnati.

Nonetheless, Cincinnati and its four congregations were a beehive of activity, providing various unique training experiences. It allowed for growth in several new ways, such as planning, organizing and helping to oversee larger family weekends, including sports tournaments and other large-scale events.

The teenage girls volleyball team was quite good. They won district and regional tournaments, which opened up the opportunity for them to go to the national tournament in Big Sandy, Texas. This led to the first bus trip—over 800 miles—that the Packs would take with a group of parents and teenagers. The girls won second in the tournament.

Cincinnati was also a great opportunity for Mrs. Pack to learn and grow as a potential minister’s wife. Supporting her husband’s responsibilities, she learned to balance assisting the brethren with managing a family of two small boys. The older Reyer children were wonderful to the boys, as were the senior Reyers. Mrs. Reyer was a terrific person—and a terrific example to Mrs. Pack and the other women.

Basketball with the Bengals

Cincinnati was the first of several times Mr. Pack engaged a professional football team to play the local Church basketball team as a fundraiser. Meeting costs for the trip to the Big Sandy tournament was the catalyst for the idea.

“We had to make a significant amount of money for the parents and teenagers to rent a bus for the trip to Big Sandy. It occurred to me that we could contact the Cincinnati Bengals, the local professional football team, to arrange a game with their traveling basketball team. We had to pay them $600, plus cover the gym rental fee, and the rest of the profits were ours.

“After Mr. Reyer approved the idea—he loved basketball—I organized the evening. I had been playing some basketball at the local YMCA and had met several players with a little professional experience. The Bengal team had a record of 49-1, and I was concerned that we would get crushed. One man I knew had played a year with the Boston Celtics, the other had played a year with the Houston Mavericks, a team in the old American Basketball Association. A third man was the younger brother of the former center of the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings). They all agreed to play.

“I rented a large gym and invited all of the local churches in the area, including Dayton, to come to the Saturday night game. We encouraged brethren to have their friends come to the event. The turnout was terrific and we made more than enough money. And it was a hit with the relatives of Church members. We won the game, the only other that the Bengals would lose that winter.

“I would later do this two more times in Buffalo, New York, each time with the Buffalo Bills traveling basketball team. On these later occasions we would have halftime entertainment, plus a drawing for an autographed football—one time my oldest son was the winner. I believe that we still have the ball.

“This activity was an interesting fundraising and business experience for me, and the Church really benefitted as well. To pull it off in a professional fashion was important, and we did.”

Unusual Response

Whenever the North and West congregations combined for Sabbath services, the speaker would address as many as 500 to 600 brethren. Attendance rose to more than 2,000 when the Dayton brethren were included during Holy Day services. At one service, Mr. Pack delivered his first sermon before an audience of thousands. The now 27-year-old minister found preaching to so many brethren a very exciting and inspiring experience. In the end, he learned it was almost easier to speak to a larger crowd than a smaller one.

An unusual moment occurred when the sermon finished: As he walked away from the lectern, all two thousand people applauded. Clapping after a sermon was uncommon in the Worldwide Church of God; in fact, it was eventually banned by Mr. Armstrong because he felt it unseemly and wrong to clap for messages presented by God’s ministers. Looking back, Mr. Pack acknowledged the decision made perfect sense. (In the latter years of his ministry, Mr. Armstrong’s appearance on stage, not his message, would sometimes bring a spontaneous response that everyone understood was an exception to the rule.)

“This clapping was a product of the liberal years. It seemed strange to me when it happened, because it was still rare to that point. But I recall a curious mixed feeling of being honored by it, while at the same time wondering if it should have happened.”

As time passed, Mr. Reyer realized that, based on Mr. Pack’s capabilities as a speaker and servant to the brethren, an injustice had been committed in his previous assignment. The pastor was very encouraging and worked toward correcting what had happened.

Mr. Pack was ordained a local elder on the Feast of Trumpets, September 6, 1975, eight months after relocating to Cincinnati. His brother was ordained the same day to local elder.

The Spirit World

Mr. Pack experienced in Cincinnati the first installment of what would be another unique training opportunity that most young ministers seldom faced: confronting the frightening reality of the spirit world and demonic possession.

One day while visiting with Mr. Reyer, the pastor was leading a counseling session with a married woman, whose four young daughters were playing quietly in a nearby room.

At a certain moment in the visit, Mr. Reyer saw something strange in the look on her face. His assistant, inexperienced in such matters, listened intently, not discerning anything out of the ordinary.

Suddenly, the pastor looked the woman in the eyes and declared, “You’re a spirit, aren’t you? You are a foul, unclean spirit!”

Her demeanor changed instantly—she snarled at the men like a wild dog bearing its fangs, her 10 fingernails literally raised and pointing toward Mr. Reyer.

He said, “We have to leave right now. We need to go home and fast about this.”

Mr. Pack left the house in disbelief.

The pastor called Mr. Frank McCrady, the minister from Chicago who had trained him years earlier. This man was generally recognized among the ministry as the one with the most years of experience and most discernment with people troubled by demons. From these two trained and experienced men, Mr. Pack learned firsthand about dealing with the spirit world, lessons and experience that would be important training for his later ministry.

Several days after their encounter, Mr. Reyer and Mr. Pack met with the troubled husband and wife in the living room of the Packs’ home on the north side of Cincinnati. Just before Mr. Reyer commanded the spirit to stop troubling the woman, she began a high-pitched shriek that Mr. Pack described as “a screaming hawk diving on prey.”

Moments later, she shot up from her chair and seized her husband, locking her fingers around his throat in a death grip while taking him to the floor. Mr. Reyer grabbed one of her arms and Mr. Pack the other. At 6’3,” the pastor was a powerful man. Both he and the younger minister were in top physical condition—yet they struggled with the small woman.

While pulling the woman off her husband, Mr. Reyer had commanded, “In the name of Jesus Christ, come out!”

The evil spirit obeyed Christ’s authority immediately, and departed from the woman—and only then were these two strong men able to now easily lift her fingers from her husband’s throat.

She immediately dropped to the carpet as if dead. The men stared as she slowly started to move. As Mr. Reyer lifted her up, she said, “Oh, thank you so much.”

“How long has that spirit been in you?” he asked.

“Since I was seven years old.”

Mr. Pack stood amazed at the event he had just witnessed. This was a ministry-changing experience. The reality of the power and evil of the spirit world was forever seared into his mind. This training would be needed in the future.

Heart of a Shepherd

Mr. Pack was 27 at the time he would leave Cincinnati. Certain things had “jelled” in his mind by this time. Training under Mr. Reyer had been the catalyst.

“As I continued to visit in an environment where people could be somewhat more difficult to work with, I had to learn to ease in and out of subjects, to set the table, relax and draw out people in a soft manner, if I were to have any chance of helping them. I learned more not just to crash through the door of a subject, but rather to gently play on the edge of it, until a mind was more ready to receive help.

“Every effective minister must develop the ‘heart of a shepherd.’ Without it, all is lost. A man has no chance to effectively work with and lead people if he does not think like a loving shepherd working with sheep, and being willing to lay down his life for them (John 10:1-15). This means he must be willing to battle wolves to the death because he loves God’s people (John 21:15-17).

“He must understand that he is there to serve them and not be served, as so many men never seemed to learn. Mrs. Pack and I would actually be criticized on a few occasions because, as it was sometimes put, ‘You won’t let people do things for you.’ Of course, there were a certain very few exceptions to this, but overall it was true. We would not permit people to pick up our raw milk at the farm, or natural honey, or do our errands and shopping for us. God’s people are generally very giving, and it would have been easy to take advantage of them. They have been taught to give and to serve, and many ministers saw this and treated them as a resource for their own use.

“In the end, when you do this, you certainly get much more than you give. And believe me, I saw this happen time and again through the years. We never left an assignment where we did not feel we got more than we gave, and usually by far. In that sense, ministers reap what they sow. We surely did reap in this way.

“When it came to really understanding the heart of a shepherd, Cincinnati was truly the turning point. I learned much there of ‘being all things to all people to gain the more.’”

Colossal, Worldwide Organization

At this point, the biography requires an extensive inset, most of it in Mr. Pack’s words (from his book explaining the government of God). Describing the Church and its government as it existed under Mr. Armstrong’s final years, this section sets up all that would happen to Mr. Pack for the rest of his ministry prior to the beginning of The Restored Church of God. It is presented here for the context it brings to many stories that follow in the biography.

“Despite the setback of the 1974 rebellion, the Church had grown colossal in size. By 1978, there were many hundreds of ministers and approximately 100,000 brethren on six continents, two beautiful college campuses (Bricketwood had closed in 1974), and an annual income in the many millions of dollars, with assets greatly exceeding this amount. More importantly, the gospel was being preached around the world, and Mr. Armstrong, who delivered it, was becoming well-known in all parts of the globe.

“Yet the Church’s international reputation and financial stability tempted certain men who soon became motivated to seize control of it. While not the last time rebellious leaders would attempt to take over the Church, it was the first time Mr. Pack experienced it directly.

“Before examining the power struggle that occurred, it is vital to understand how influential the Worldwide Church of God had become on the world stage.

“Everything about WCG and Ambassador College in Pasadena, California—the employees, campus, and even the buildings and activities—was a study in precision and effective performance on a massive scale.

“Perhaps the most important element leading to rapid growth, sheer size, and the preaching of the true gospel to all nations was the Church’s governmental structure. In contrast to professing Christian groups, the true Church of God was led by an apostle—Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong.

“In a true representation of God’s form of government from the top down, evangelists, pastors, preaching elders, local elders, local church elders, deacons, deaconesses, and administrators at every level were appointed by (or by others under) Mr. Armstrong. The Church understood that for Jesus Christ to perform His Work on Earth, the proper structure of Church government must always be in place.

“Headquarters consisted of numerous departments, each having a well-defined purpose within the overall Church and Work. These sometimes had several sections within them, which orchestrated the day-to-day operations of the Church and colleges. Generally led by ministers or senior administrators, departments included landscaping, custodial and maintenance, carpentry, transportation and fleet, legal, business and accounting, insurance, festival, youth, editorial, a news bureau, Church administration, shipping and receiving, media production, data processing, mail processing, security, purchasing, food service (at the colleges), public relations, and even a travel agency.

“Pasadena directed and served as the example for similarly functioning regional offices and congregations around the world, and the two smaller colleges, in Big Sandy, Texas, and Bricketwood, England. In just the Los Angeles basin alone, more than 5,000 were in attendance (including students). In addition, the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation (AICF) operated from Pasadena’s Headquarters.

“Intrinsic to the regional offices was a field supervisory structure, led by Church Administration at Pasadena, which was used in the United States and every major country or group of countries. Church Administration, later called Ministerial Services, had authority over all international offices. Transfers of ministers—regional directors, pastors, associate and assistant pastors, and ministerial assistants—were directed from there. Everyone understood that this governed the smooth functioning of these offices.

“Headquarters and the international offices worked closely together to ensure that the ‘Second Commission’—feeding the flock—was always fulfilled in a way pleasing to Christ (John 21:15-17).

“Because there was one clear voice—Mr. Armstrong, through whom Christ was directly working, there was pastoral unity and precision in the congregations. ‘Maintaining decency and order’ (I Corinthians 14:40) was the norm during weekly Sabbath services, which were conducted in the same fashion throughout the world. From opening to closing prayer, the two-hour service was a picture of God’s government in action.

“This well-organized administrative hierarchy served congregations in ways that were clearly visible to every member. Each ordained man and lay member knew his place and service, including all specific duties for which he had been trained and appointed.

“Contributing directly to the unity of the Church were the annual Ministerial Conferences, held in Pasadena beginning in the mid-1950s and continuing through the decades. These updated, informed and inspired the entire ministry and ensured that everyone remained on the same page.

“In addition, highly structured speaking and leadership development programs were offered in every congregation, called Spokesman Clubs and Women’s Clubs.

“Every congregation held a broad range of periodic socials. There were picnics, formal dances, snow parties, and singles and seniors activities. There was also a wide variety of sports teams, tournaments and events sponsored by the Church, such as softball, basketball, volleyball, track meets—for adults, teens and young children. Each was designed to bring brethren closer together.

“Many of the local activities and programs described were paid for almost exclusively at the local level. This required extensive and highly organized fundraising activities, which sometimes allowed generous contributions to be sent to Headquarters so God’s Work could expand. Also, the most creative and fruitful fundraising ideas were often shared throughout the Church, and this helped to promote a feeling of harmony and unity.

“The annual Feast of Tabernacles was also directed from Headquarters, and was perhaps the greatest single event that demonstrated the efficiency, harmony, peace and strength toward which God’s government leads. This eight-day assembly took on the title of ‘largest multi-site convention of any kind in the world.’ At its zenith, the Church had more than 120 sites worldwide and was attended by anywhere from 100 people up to 15,000. The Feast became an event of legend. Local Chambers of Commerce were invariably left in wonderment at ‘those funny people from the Worldwide Church of God.’ They saw respectful, well-behaved children (another part of God’s government in action), minimal noise in hotels, cleanliness on site, happy faces in restaurants and sometimes even in massive traffic jams entering or leaving parking lots.

“The statement of one Chamber leader in Canada became an oft-mentioned quote in the Church for years: ‘How come such wonderful people have to believe such crazy doctrines?’ The Church could not make local communities appreciate its teachings, but the example of its members was observed—and extraordinary. This was attributable to God’s government at work in every Feast site.

“With the tithes and freely given offerings of supporters around the world, an immense administrative superstructure produced an incredible number of quality media programs. The World Tomorrow television program increasingly grew in popularity on a worldwide scale until it was number one in the Arbitron ratings for all religious programs in America.

“In addition, the Church’s flagship magazine, The Plain Truth, had a monthly circulation of over eight million at its zenith.

“The size and scope of the Church and all its related activities were a wonderful representation of God’s way of life. Simultaneously, however, it was also seen as a tremendous prize of wealth and power to those motivated by such things.”

Special Assignment Outside New York

In June 1976, as Mr. Armstrong continued to take the gospel to dignitaries and heads of state around the world, Church Administration implemented a change that affected the newly ordained local elder.

Because of Mr. Armstrong’s hectic traveling schedule (he was away from Headquarters about 300 days of the year), he could not closely manage the Church and ministry. Therefore, CAD initiated another structure in the field that delegated some of the elements of oversight there to senior men who would be called Area Coordinators. Mr. Reyer was transferred to Iowa, and Mr. Pack was transferred east.

Mr. Reyer recommended Mr. Pack receive his own pastorate, and CAD began looking for the most appropriate place to assign him. The associate pastor had developed a reputation as a “good organizer.” Also, even though he had not officially pastored Rockford, Headquarters had taken note the congregation had grown considerably during a short period.

The new Area Coordinator in the northeastern United States requested that the young man handle a special assignment under him in the New York/New Jersey region that was to last for one year, after which the promotion to full pastor would likely occur. The Packs were once again going to be on their own. They were to relocate to Newburgh, New York, a small town on the Hudson River, about 70 miles north of New York City.

An assignment to the state of New York and to northern New Jersey felt as though the family was being assigned to another world, one of mystery.

But it was a clear promotion…

Chapter Seventeen – Next Stop, Newburgh, New York

While the new area coordinator remained in Pasadena, with plans to move to northern New Jersey at the end of the summer, he assigned Mr. Pack the challenging responsibility of restructuring the two congregations, one at the time in northern New Jersey, in Union, and the other in southern upstate New York, Newburgh.

Two other associate pastors were sent to serve in New Jersey at the same time, but with different responsibilities. Counting the area coordinator, four ministers entering an assignment from which three others were transferring out was something that never happened before, or since.

The Newburgh congregation was comprised of roughly 95 brethren; the congregation to the south, in Union, New Jersey, had about 550. In the reorganization, both congregations were to be moved farther south, reassigning about 150 people from Union to the newly named Nanuet, New York congregation, situated on the New Jersey-New York state line. Most of the members from Union would attend in Woodbridge, New Jersey.

Immediately came the task of renting halls and organizing local deacons and elders. It was an exciting, although complicated, process, and Mr. Pack was determined to meet the challenge. He had already begun to realize that he loved organizing and developing congregations—as well as taking on difficult problems all the way through the process of solving them.

Arriving in Newburgh

In being transferred to their new assignment, the Packs did not have time to find a home before moving. They arrived in Newburgh after spending long, tiring hours of driving from Ohio, and decided to lodge in a hotel for the night.

With a U-Haul truck they had rented to transport their belongings from Cincinnati, the Pack family pulled into the parking lot of an older Howard Johnson hotel in Newburgh.

The next morning, to keep him company, Mr. Pack’s oldest son, now almost four, sat beside his father in the front seat, while Mrs. Pack followed behind in their car. As Mr. Pack pulled the truck through the parking lot, it hooked the corner of the A-frame registration office, which was surrounded by glass—and pulled loose one of the two beams that held the façade of the hotel in place.

Shattered glass landed everywhere as the two beams, which were anchored to a massive cement support block behind the building, shook the entire structure! Naturally, the man behind the registration desk was astonished as the glass enclosing the hotel entrance was suddenly destroyed, leaving him talking on the phone—now outdoors! The chaos was like a scene from a movie.

Jumping from the truck with his screaming son, a most embarrassed driver was unsure of what to do. Thankfully, no one was injured and there was insurance on the truck; the young family certainly did not have the money to pay for the damages.

But this incident was minor compared to the monumental spiritual trial the Packs would soon face.

Secret Cult—Inside the Church

The Packs stayed with a local family for 10 days until they found a home. Almost immediately, since no other ministers had yet arrived in the area, Mr. Pack received a call from a local member, who told him that her husband was involved with a thing called “personality demons.” The young elder was at first hesitant, but it was soon obvious that what she described was not a hoax, and the problem had been widespread.

After some investigating, it became clear that one of the three previous ministers transferred from the area had taught and deceived a great many into accepting a ridiculous and bizarre belief: that every human being is born possessed by a demon!—and that conversion is in fact a lifelong process of self-exorcism!

This was happening in God’s Church!

A large, but secret, group of people in the two congregations were literally on a first name basis with demons. All members of this inside-the-Church-cult believed that they each had their own “personality demon,” referred to in code as their “PD.” Individuals were taught to daily “call forth” a “good spirit” that God was said to have assigned to them from birth. This “good angel” then supposedly “helped” the person get rid of his or her “bad angel,” or “evil spirit.” These terribly misled people were actually talking to two demon spirits, with one masquerading as an angel.

The apostle Paul warned the ancient Corinthians—and all Bible students today—that “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (II Cor. 11:14). This was certainly true of the “good angel,” said to be working with each member.

Every day, the members involved would “call forth” their “bad angels” to talk and reason with them. These masquerading spirits would claim, for example, “I’m your good angel. I’m here to help”—or “I’m your bad angel. You need to get rid of me.”

The misguided people then wrote down the chilling messages and instructions from these spirits in endless notebooks as a futile attempt to “exorcise” themselves. Those thought to be members of God’s Church were actually inviting demons into their lives, thinking they were “pushing them out”!

Because the previous associate pastor had been so influential and well-liked in the congregation, he was able to persuade many to accept these demonic beliefs—and possibly lead them to what could in fact become the very possession they thought they were escaping. This minister was actually trying to cast a spirit out of his own infant son!

“Somewhere in my basement I still have a pile of full notebooks of many who were involved in this terrible activity. That such a perverse practice could enter God’s Church, and in a relatively large way, was hard to believe. For me, it was a sobering example of how determined the devil is in his desire to infiltrate the Church and cause confusion and destruction among God’s people. And the pastor knew nothing of it.

“I later found myself counseling a young man in the group, while at my house, with my wife present, who began to speak to me in seven different voices, each spirit only too happy to give me its name. I cast all of the demons out, right there in my den, and found myself very thankful for training I had received just months earlier.

“This was more training of an extraordinary nature, something one could not imagine, never mind expect to be part of his field experience. It would take its place among the many unique elements of my training that I could only later understand for their collective value.”

Finding a Home

The Packs were then forced to live in a motel room for two weeks. Though the area offered limited housing options, they finally found a home to rent. The building was owned by the Catholic Church and had been used as a residence for nuns. Before moving in, the couple spent the day moving large crucifixes and a statue strangely left behind of the “Virgin Mary” into a back room in the basement where they could be stored. No one ever came back to get these items until the family moved a year later and the nuns re-entered the home to live.

Meanwhile, the Packs discovered a “surprise” was awaiting them when unloading the U-Haul truck they had rented: some of their personal belongings had been damaged by water. When the truck had hit the Howard Johnson’s, the building had apparently opened the vehicle’s roof enough to allow rainwater to enter. For several weeks, the family’s belongings had been soaked, with many of the items ruined.

The family salvaged what they could, cleaned up the mess, and settled into their new residence.

Dressing and Keeping the Garden

Another inset belongs at this point. Recall that Ran and Jane Pack made their children work in the yard for half an hour every day. This time could be spent planting, cutting grass, edging, pruning, pulling weeds, raking leaves and generally keeping the yard neat and clean. Later, of course, Mr. Pack would have his own homes with yard(s), beginning with rented properties in every one of his assignments.

By the time the family had reached Newburgh, the Packs were in a position to work with the properties they would be renting. At this point, their two little boys were ages two and four, and were old enough to enjoy playing in the yard, raking leaves while “Daddy” worked. So the family pruned and fixed the lawn. In the next assignment, Rochester, they did the same in two more houses—and in every future assignment.

“Everybody who knows anything about me knows that I love planting and working in the lawn. I love dirt under my fingernails, and my garage has every conceivable tool known to man, beast or machine. As a matter of fact, on most Father’s Days my children would give me a new tool to use in the lawn, knowing in advance it would be a ‘winner.’

“I loved working with things that were green and that grew. What I detested as a child, I came to thoroughly enjoy as an adult.

“Everywhere we were transferred, every home we entered, I saw as our responsibility to ‘dress and keep the garden.’ I saw our family as fulfilling God’s second instruction to Adam and Eve (after ‘be fruitful and multiply’). So we sought to do this. Of course every home was different, so each required a different landscaping plan.

“It made no difference to me and to my wife that the home was not ours. It was where we lived! And I wanted it to look presentable—to look like where real Christians lived. In each case, I would approach the entire property, foursquare, and usually completely reconceive the landscaping to whatever degree the landlord would permit. Invariably, he was thrilled that we would improve the value of his home. Of course, rentals were generally in pretty rough condition to start. So the landlord understood that when we moved it would have increased the value for rental, or, in some cases, the owner would be able to sell it for more—and this did happen on more than one occasion. I thoroughly enjoyed planning a creative, beautiful look.

“But there was also simply the fact that I found this activity relaxing. I discovered at a most rewarding level that a ‘desire accomplished was sweet to the soul,’ as Solomon recorded, and that, ‘In all labor there is profit.’

“Over the years, I found something wholesome about planting and pruning. I have literally planted hundreds of trees. Of course, I have also cut down hundreds of trees with chainsaws—and by ‘other’ means. Several years ago, my brother and I ‘felled’ a tree—here is his description of what happened.”

“My brother and I were unable to dig a medium-sized tree out of the ground. We had cut many of the roots, but the tree was being obstinate. He got the idea of using a rope to just pull it out of the ground. So we wrapped the rope around us and began pulling in a kind of tug of war against the tree. We pulled and jerked and cut, all the while worrying that it could fall on us. Moments later, it happened. Two husbands almost pulled one ‘widowmaker’ out of the ground. We felled the tree, which felled my brother, who felled me. Of course, neither one of us got hurt and there was not any real danger.”

“The above story is typical of so many accounts that could be included.

“Just in my current home, I have installed almost 100 trees—occasionally moving them, taking some down, pruning others. I have also removed many dead trees, and planted perhaps as many as 100 to 125 bushes all through the woods and around my home—with hundreds more planted in other homes. It is a wonderful feeling to accomplish and achieve, with the result being a precise, beautiful product—when the whole property has been completed as it should be.

“Space would not permit me to tell of all the lessons learned that collectively have made Jesus’ instructions in places like John 15 have so much more meaning.

“During and through the apostasy, I found working in the lawn was a necessary catharsis. It relaxed me and permitted clear thinking while away from the ‘maddening crowd.’”

Experimentation with Spirit World Downplayed

Once Mr. Pack had gathered sufficient information on the “PD” cult, he contacted his area coordinator, still living at Headquarters. The man planned to immediately come to investigate.

When he arrived, Mr. Pack had been on a scheduled vacation to Milwaukee. The offending minister came with him and downplayed Mr. Pack’s report. He carefully covered up the situation and his followers did the same. The investigating area coordinator believed that the matter had been terribly exaggerated. Mr. Pack was not there to challenge the investigation with the facts.

The men left almost as quickly as they had arrived. The area coordinator later phoned Mr. Pack and suggested that the matter had been overblown.

Mr. Pack could not believe his ears—a representative from Headquarters, his future boss, believed the discovery of a large secret cult operating within God’s Church was “overblown”?!

The young minister was unsure of how to handle a matter this serious. It was another trial on top of the original trial of discovering the cult.

First, Mr. Pack was determined to get more information in preparation for his supervisor’s arrival, so he asked more questions of the brethren involved who were willing to talk. Finally, one man’s wife turned over her husband’s “personality demon” notebook.

Relying on chain of command for the solution, he called his superior back.

“I told him, ‘You are about to inherit a serious problem when you settle in the area. This whole thing was swept under the rug. I have looked into this much more, and gathered many additional facts. A truly unbelievable situation is developing in this pastorate!’”

When the area supervisor arrived, he examined the writings—irrefutable evidence that a demon-influenced cult of about 110 people had been secretly thriving among Christ’s flock! The associate pastor was immediately removed from the ministry.

Incredibly, certain brethren involved pointed to Mr. Pack as the root of the problem, saying that he was “too judgmental and harsh”! Some actually believed the young minister should have been “more understanding” of the local brethren’s “difficulties”—in other words, they thought he should tolerate demons and a form of angel worship among God’s people!

Mr. Pack recalls that the situation revealed how many who attended the Church could not possibly have been part of the Body of Christ.

“I was aware that certain opposing views and rebellious attitudes had entered the Church during the 1974 rebellion. But now, over two years later, I saw that even though thousands of brethren and scores of ministers had left, there were still men in the ministry who privately held to a host of different kinds of ideas, many of them truly bizarre.

“Starting in the 1970s, the term ‘liberal’ was used in the Worldwide Church of God. The phrase really doesn’t refer to a specific behavior or attitude, but rather encompasses a variety of different attitudes and unacceptable conduct that had entered the Church, which all had the same beginning.

“Before the liberal years, nobody ever questioned Mr. Armstrong’s authority and expected to remain in the Church. Everyone recognized that he alone was the leader of the Church. Publicly disagreeing meant openly acknowledging a decision to leave the Church. This changed in the 1970s as people began to feel more comfortable expressing their disagreement in a variety of areas.

“In the Church, the word ‘liberal’ has always been synonymous with permissive, overly tolerant, lax views toward accepted Church doctrine and members’ behavior. Unlike churches of the world that view conduct and beliefs in shades of gray, the Church of God understood that God’s Law is black and white.

“It was simply unbelievable that these kinds of things could happen in the Church of God. It was only years after that I could really understand I was seeing things that were preparing me for a role that would come much later. It was as though each new assignment was adding important training that would not normally be experienced in the ‘average pastorate’ or ‘average ministry.’”

How far had this liberal attitude infiltrated the highest levels of Church Administration? In the name of “tolerance,” it permitted the associate pastor at the heart of the “personality demon” cult to return to the ministry the following year!

Lunch with Mr. Armstrong

Several years had passed since the Packs had left Ambassador College. They had had little personal contact with Mr. Armstrong.

Living along the Hudson River, the family prepared for the annual fall Holy Days. In 1976, they and perhaps as many as 9,000 brethren attended the Feast of Tabernacles amidst the brilliant gold, orange and scarlet woodland scenery of Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania.

Here they attended a ministerial luncheon, where they had the opportunity to greet Mr. Armstrong. Mrs. Pack was excited with the possibility of once again speaking with her former “boss.”

On the day of the luncheon, the Packs walked into the hall, where almost 100 ministers and their wives were gathered to hear the Church’s senior-most leader speak. As Mr. and Mrs. Pack looked for an opening at a table, Mr. Armstrong saw them. The Pastor General was pleasantly surprised to see his former secretary; he immediately asked the young couple to sit with him so they could catch up. It had been over five years since he had seen them. His secretary was now a mother of two and the experienced wife of a minister.

At first, the invitation made the Packs slightly uncomfortable, because Mr. Armstrong asked a senior minister to move to make room for them. Mr. Pack could not help but think of Luke 14:11 and 20:46. The younger minister was not trying to exalt himself to the “best seat,” yet he had been beckoned by the Pastor General of God’s Church. The Packs considered this gesture a great honor.

“I am under no illusion that Mr. Armstrong probably spotted me merely because I was the tallest person in the crowd. It was nice that my height could be useful for something other than bumping my head more often than others.”

During the meal, Mr. Armstrong and the Packs “caught up” on the events they had experienced over the years they had not seen or spoken to each other.

50th Feast?!

Just minutes after the Pastor General had made some remarks to the ministry, Mr. Pack made an observation: “Congratulations, Mr. Armstrong. This is your 50th Feast.”

“No, it’s not, Dave,” Mr. Armstrong replied. “It’s my 49th Feast, because my first one was in 1927.”

“Sir, that’s 49 years ago,” Mr. Pack responded respectfully. “So, counting inclusively, this would be your 50th Feast.”

“I then took out a piece of paper and carefully showed Mr. Armstrong the math. It was not a hard sell. I was in the ‘unhappy’ position of having to ‘correct’ Mr. Armstrong about something I knew would inspire him—if he understood. He paused, looking inquisitively—and an excited look came across his face. ‘That’s right!’ he said. I was relieved.”

Mr. Armstrong stood up, tapped his glass to get everyone’s attention, and explained to the assembled ministry he had just come to realize that he was attending his 50th Feast, previously thinking it was his 49th.

The Packs conversed with the Pastor General for about two hours. Their chat revealed that Mr. Armstrong had been thinking about marriage, after his wife’s death in 1967. He discussed the implications of remarriage. His openness was surprising.

Mr. Pack was surprised at how lonely the older man seemed. He interacted with thousands of brethren and a host of leaders around the world—yet it was clear that, almost 10 years since the death of his wife, the elderly apostle was personally very lonely.

In a sense, this simple luncheon was the rekindling of a relationship that would become special, one that would go beyond the normal greetings and pleasantries shared with the field ministry. From this point forward, a certain bond was forged between Mr. Pack and Mr. Armstrong.

“I was noticeably struck at how lonely Mr. Armstrong was. It was evident that either his travels or his high position in the Work had left him without many who could or would talk to him about certain kinds of personal things. I had not talked to him for more than a couple minutes (at a combined service years before) since college, and yet he really opened up in this luncheon. I am absolutely convinced that his loneliness, coupled with my willingness to talk freely to him, was the avenue to all that I would learn from him over the next nine years. This single luncheon was the start.”

A Grudge Springs from Basketball

Mr. Pack enjoyed staying in top physical shape. He often participated in and coached Church-sponsored sports teams, such as both coaching and playing with the Union congregation’s basketball team.

The purposes of the Church-sponsored athletic teams, and the events surrounding them, were numerous. These weekends were a positive reason for hundreds, sometimes thousands, to gather for combined services and to socialize with brethren from surrounding congregations. The weekend events were also a chance for Christian fellowship for people of all ages.

These athletic programs generally promoted a spirit of friendly competition and sportsmanship. However, as the winds of liberalization were blowing into the areas of personal conduct in people’s lives, certain ministers began slipping into a “win at all costs” attitude.

The Church had wrongly adopted an “open door” policy for weekly services, therefore, some ministers recruited players from outside the Church, sometimes relatives of those who attended, to supply their weekend sports teams with better players. To stack an athletic team with “ringers” was something to expect in the cutthroat world of pro sports or other non-Christian environments—but not in God’s Church.

One winter weekend in January 1977, the Washington, D.C. congregation sent their men’s team to play a basketball game against the Union congregation’s team. Hundreds of spectators packed the gym to see the two “powerhouse” teams play.

With seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Union team had the ball—down one point, 101 to 102. Mr. Pack received a pass tight in the corner, spun, shot—and the ball swished through the net as time expired. Union won the game, 103 to 102.

The opposing team was suddenly visibly angry. Its members had grown accustomed to the thrill of victory, having not lost a game in several years. Incredibly, and completely out of the blue, they claimed the Union team had tilted the game against them in some way. But how? This kind of thing simply never happened in the Church in the early years. It would have been unthinkable.

They returned home, waiting for a rematch—and, it would be learned, on their terms.

Interviewed to Become Pastor

Mr. Pack was by now developing a reputation of his own as an organizer who tried to involve as many people as possible, and in as many ways as possible. Partly as a result, the newest director of the field ministry summoned him to Washington, D.C., to interview for receiving his own full pastorate. (For a short period, ministers underwent a formal interview before such a decision.)

Naturally, Mr. Pack was excited. The Director opened the interview with a smile.

“There are three area coordinators ‘fighting’ over you,” he chuckled. “That’s a nice situation to be in.” It was certainly not one that Mr. Pack was used to.

One coordinator had written Pasadena, wanting Mr. Pack to work for him as the pastor in Erie, Pennsylvania. Another requested him to pastor two congregations, probably in Iowa, but possibly two others in Wisconsin. But his current area coordinator, his immediate pastor, had already informed Mr. Pack about his own plans: “I need you to go up to where your brother Bill used to be assistant pastor, in the Rochester and Syracuse, New York congregations.” (Recall that Mr. William Pack had also been sent into the ministry.)

Mr. Pack was glad to know that it was simply a matter of which area coordinator would “win the day,” not whether he would be promoted. Unlike so many other moments at crossroads in his life, this one was exhilarating.

His supervisor offered the young minister the opportunity to express where he would like to go. Without any reservations, Mr. Pack chose upstate New York.


Weeks later, the losing team challenged Union to a rematch, this time in their area. The now Woodbridge team traveled to Washington, D.C., for another game. Though the attitudes of the opposing players were out of line in the previous game, Mr. Pack, who enjoyed a healthy rivalry, looked forward to the rematch.

Upon arriving, one of the first things the Union team noticed was that all of the referees were hand-selected members from the local Church. This signaled a problem, as it was common practice to hire experienced outside referees for Church games. This was done to ensure the level of quality that had long been stressed in the Church, and to promote a spirit of fair competition. Even Ambassador College always used outside referees for intramural games.

Worse, one of the referees was a woman, which was contrary to Church policy, in regard to men’s games. Mr. Pack, an ordained elder and the Union team’s coach, approached the woman prior to the game and politely asked, “Now, I understand you are a member of the local Church. Is that right? It is my understanding that you (also because she was a woman) cannot referee this game.”

“Technical Foul!” the woman cried.

“Technical…? I’m a minister, not just the coach, and I’m stating a policy!”

This was not a basketball matter—it was a matter of Church authority, of which the very liberal local minister was apparently “confused”—or had decided that God’s standards were not as important as winning the rematch—now also using “ringer” referees. It was obvious that the pastor had instructed her in what to do.

The woman was undeterred. What should be done? There were hundreds of people sitting in the stands, and two teams were moving to center court.

Mr. Pack gathered his team before the game started, and warned, “All right guys, look out! This could turn very ugly.”

Little could anyone know…

Late in the closely contested game, one of the Washington players—who weighed almost 250 pounds—lifted another associate pastor from Woodbridge (a much smaller man) off the floor, literally turned him upside-down and smashed his head into the wooden floor!

Minister Assaulted!

The referees did nothing! Yet Mr. Pack as a minister had drawn a technical foul for trying to maintain Church policy from the same referees. And there was no response from the other players—or even from their ministers, including the senior pastor, the man who would later lead the entire ministry under Mr. Armstrong’s successor.

Outraged, Mr. Pack complained to the “pastor”—who was playing in the game! He said the player’s actions—a physical assault!—were completely wrong and that there should be consequences—immediate and severe!—for such behavior. It was clearly in opposition to the most basic elements of Christianity! The man should have been instantly off the team, put out of the gym and out of the Church (and been arrested)—and he did not even receive a foul or technical foul. But Mr. Pack did for following Church policy.

“Make no mistake. I am a competitive person. As my sports background would indicate, I certainly play to win. But this was the single most outrageous thing I had ever seen, or ever would, with one possible later exception, in an athletic setting within God’s Church. Incredibly, the pastor turned away and did absolutely nothing. What I was witnessing simply could not have happened—it was literally ‘an impossible event’ in God’s Church. And yet the pastor, known the world over as a consummate politician, did nothing. Actually, he did do some things later—but they were worse…”

Mr. Pack’s brother, also a minister, happened to be in the stands, witnessing the event. He related this:

“I was also in Washington, D.C., being interviewed to be a pastor. Therefore, I was present at the basketball rematch. I distinctly remember the event. I remember the female referee and seeing my brother go over and talk to her...and the unbelievable poor sportsmanship of a partisan referee, as well as the general hostility of the home crowd.

“I just remember all that, and probably all I can say in addition to what my brother has said is that I confirm all the facts of the account. There is no exaggeration.”

After the game, which Union lost, some of its players were still dumbfounded that a high-ranking minister failed to address the incident. Neither did any of his elders or leaders speak up.

One New Jersey player pleaded with Mr. Pack: “This is unbelievable! We just witnessed an assault on a minister! What do we do?”

With Mr. Pack well aware that the opposing pastor stood within earshot, he reassured his players. “Don’t have any doubt about this,” he said. “What was tolerated was outrageous. No minister of God should ever allow that!

Unbeknownst to Mr. Pack, instead of addressing the situation with him directly, the offending minister called the Director of CAD—for the purpose of spinning events against Mr. Pack. The pastor—for the sole purpose of protecting himself—chose to get out front of the incident and turned it into a politically driven false accusation against a man’s character because he had taken a stand the other man was too cowardly to address. Holding a grudge, thinking he could get away with it, he conveyed a skewed version of the incident, and then charged that Mr. Pack was not ready to be a pastor.

Now insult to injury!

Mr. Pack had enjoyed a wonderfully positive interview. The Director had formed a positive impression of the young minister. Yet he was taken aback.

The Director then called Mr. Pack’s area coordinator wondering more about what had happened, and reported that the senior pastor wanted to stop his promotion. The Director enjoyed a close relationship with the senior pastor.

Mr. Pack was called by his superior, who then called the minister who reconfirmed the assault, as did the other players. With the facts confirmed, the area coordinator told Mr. Pack that the senior pastor would be calling him to apologize and to settle the matter, and that of course his promotion would not be affected.

Mr. Pack waited for a phone call that never came—so he called his accuser.

“I understand you have something to say to me, but can’t bring yourself to say it. So I decided to call you.”

“Well,” the man mumbled, “I just thought things could have been a little different.”

With that, he refused to address the matter directly, leaving it unresolved.

Such is the way of political climbers, who do not take a stand or deal with problems, preferring to hold grudges and wait for a chance to “get even”—an attitude that should never be evidenced in men who have the Spirit of God, let alone ministers. This man’s actions, for years after, demonstrated how some who have wronged others find a way to remember themselves as the one having been wronged. But then “the heart is deceitful above all things.” (This senior pastor would return to persecute Mr. Pack for over 20 more years. But then this is the man whom Mr. Tkach handpicked as the one to inform and sell the entire Church that he was an apostle.)


Shortly after the unresolved conversation, Mr. Pack’s next assignment was confirmed: pastor of the Rochester and Syracuse congregations.

“The part of my training under other men in the field was now over, other than when I was later demoted. I had worked to this point under seven different men (two more would come in the late 1980s)—and these men were very diverse in style, strengths and weaknesses, experience, age, and other things. They had all come to where they were through different paths. But some had experienced very little training to arrive at the point of becoming pastors.

“There was the case of one man I served under whose path to promotion could only be described as a ‘skyrocket in flight.’ He was ordained right after graduation at age 21 and was already Pastor-rank by 25, before being made a regional director at just 28 years old. None of this kind of thing was really the fault of such men. It was due to an entrenched system of politics, nepotism and rewards, unknown to Mr. Armstrong.

“Of course, I did not fully see this for what it was at the time. Coming to such conclusions was another of those things that was ‘unthinkable’ until later. The process toward promotion had once been much faster than the man I referenced here. Mr. Armstrong was learning to generally slow the ascent of men out of college. But he had no knowledge of a systematic method under each CAD Director of almost routinely putting certain of their favorite men on a ‘fast track’ to high office or much higher office.

“It is certainly obvious, and I am most glad, that I was never put on any such ‘fast track.’ It ruined so many men, and it might have ruined me as well.”

Transfer and promotion to being a full pastor meant also being raised in rank to Preaching Elder, meaning one becomes a full minister with all vested authority as such. This happened the Sabbath after Pentecost, on May 28, 1977.

Chapter Eighteen – On to Rochester and Syracuse

Mr. Pack looked forward to arriving in his new assignment—as a full pastor, and of two congregations in such a beautiful and scenic area of the country. He was convinced Upstate New York would be a wonderful environment for raising his family and creating lasting memories.

However, as with any congregation, his new pastorate had its share of problems. In fact, there were a number of serious problems that needed to be addressed right away. The Rochester and Syracuse congregations once held more than 200 members who had departed during the Church’s liberal years, many at the time of the February 1974 rebellion. Certain leaders and ministers, including the former supervisor of Mr. Pack’s brother, the pastor now being replaced, were the source of numerous problems.

On his first Sabbath in the area, Mr. Pack sat in the audience and listened to the outgoing pastor deliver his farewell sermon—which turned out to be the last day the man ever attended services.

“The previous pastor walked out and never looked back—and with his departure, I inherited an absolute mess. What I would experience in the first year of what should have been an established pastorate we will just describe as ‘unexpected.’

“Through five consecutive areas, beginning with Rockford, my assignments involved interacting with ministers who had either been suspended, fired or had quit their positions. There were no exceptions. Rochester-Syracuse was number four.

“Each time, I inherited chaotic circumstances: Even before I could arrive at a new assignment, a sizeable portion of members would have already left the Church—the remaining brethren were invariably confused and divided—disorganization was prevalent—heresy was openly tolerated—corrupt conduct and vile practices were committed by both members and ministers, as well as teenagers—and a general lack of respect for authority existed.

“These conditions would be awaiting me in all of my new pastorates.”

This would be another assignment of many lessons—and much preparation for the future. But it would also be a place of wonderful happiness and production.

Liberal, Lax and Loose

The Pack family settled in the Rochester suburb of Penfield, where they enjoyed living in the western part of the state. They explored its vast scenic region, visiting the Finger Lakes, the Adirondack Mountains, the Great Lakes, southern Ontario, and hiking through perhaps 80 percent of New York’s state parks.

The Rochester-Syracuse area was a great environment for the Packs to rear growing boys, now ages three and five.

Mr. Pack promptly focused on his primary task: redirecting all aspects of both congregations. The previous pastor had failed to administer almost any form of right government, and had exhibited little or no doctrinal understanding.

The first change: quietly ending the “open door” policy—a direct violation of Mr. Armstrong’s instructions! This deviation from protocol had liberalized Sabbath services and Church activities. Standards of decency, order, quality, excellence, Sabbath attendance and proper organization had been thrown out the window and replaced with chaos, confusion, division and a “come as you are” mentality.

In both the Rochester and Syracuse congregations, many members came to Sabbath services wearing inappropriate attire. Instead of coming before God wearing their best clothes, and according to established Church tradition (II Thes. 2:15; 3:6), most men wore open-necked shirts rather than ties; women wore slacks and pantsuits rather than appropriate-length dresses. In many cases, women wore their hair much too short, while a couple men had shoulder-length hair, or what Mr. Pack called “the Prince Valiant look.” Others simply wore it too long.

Many lay members had been on a first name basis with their previous pastor—again, contrary to what Mr. Armstrong taught—showing no respect for the office or authority of the ministry.

Only a small group bothered to attend the limited number of the congregation’s social events.

Nothing, including services, started on time.

Foul language and filthy jokes were commonplace among brethren.

Of course, many celebrated birthdays and skipped services to attend weddings and family anniversaries.

Parents let their teens date outside the Church, and adult singles were involved in romantic relationships with those outside the Church or with unbaptized attendees.

There were smokers in the congregation, as well as overdrinking.

And sex sins were rampant.

In short, the whole pastorate was grossly liberal—and some were overtly carnal, period. The Church in Corinth, which Paul had to address several times, had nothing on Rochester-Syracuse.

Eye-opening First Sabbath

Perhaps Mr. Pack’s very first service leading Rochester best illustrates the condition of the local congregations.

Before the new pastor could even reach his seat, the local church elder pulled him aside and pointed out three pressing issues that needed to be dealt with immediately—meaning in one case even before services.

First, a deranged young man—whom the leadership had asked not to return to services, and against whom the previous minister had actually sought and received a restraining order—was in the audience. The man had recently been released from a psychiatric hospital, though he was “taking his medication,” the elder assured. Nevertheless, this did not completely dispel the elder’s fears since the man had a history of “going off his medication.” With a new minister arriving to take over the pastorate, the deranged man used the occasion to slip back into the congregation.

Next, a highly troubled woman, also recently released from a psychiatric ward, had returned to services. The ministry had asked her to leave the Feast of Tabernacles the previous year when she became wildly “unhinged,” due to extreme instability.

Finally, the local elder explained that a Mormon elder—a tall, powerful, imposing man who had never been seen before—was at that moment lecturing a small group of brethren at the front of the hall.

These explosive “spiritual grenades” needed to be defused—one of them fast!

Mr. Pack put down his briefcase, asked for several deacons to be gathered, and moved toward the intruding “elder.” The new pastor told the man his actions were not welcome and that he needed to leave Church services immediately.

The huge man belligerently responded that he had every right to be there and would not be going anywhere.

This time, with increased urgency in his voice, Mr. Pack said, “No, you’re confused. You’ll be leaving right now—and there is the door. Go!”

A few tense moments passed, but the man complied, leaving the premises, with deacons following him out to the parking lot.

As Mr. Pack went to find his seat and prepare for his sermon, he realized that once again he had inherited an assignment with significant problems.

One of them was that the meeting room was adjacent to a common wall beside a bowling alley, in a building that was right near the city’s major airport. Also, the men’s and women’s restrooms were at the front of the hall directly behind the speaker and the wall behind the lectern was thin.

“It was an unbelievable moment. I would be giving a sermon. Pins hit by a bowling ball could be heard through the wall to my left. Jets could occasionally be heard overhead—all in between flushes occurring directly behind me as sometimes sheepish-looking people were walking passed on my right going to and from the restroom. Their faces were sometimes no less flushed with embarrassment than the toilets.

“I laugh all over again just thinking about what I had inherited. I decided then and there my first order of business was to find a more suitable hall for when we came before God at services.”

The “Cat Lady”

Liberalized doctrine and allowing God’s standards to slide had invited strange and unbalanced people into the Church. Over time, Mr. Pack learned that people with demon problems seek to enter God’s Church when it is in a liberalized, weakened spiritual condition.

During these years, before the advent of the Internet and email, ministers primarily visited members or potential members in their homes. (Of course, this is still ideal.) The vast majority of the many thousands of visits Mr. and Mrs. Pack conducted were positive, even wonderful, experiences. Visiting either members or those desiring baptism and membership was one of the most rewarding aspects of being in the ministry. Few things can compare to seeing firsthand a person’s joy and excitement in learning the truth of God’s Word.

However, some visits could only be described as unique.

In one instance, Mr. and Mrs. Pack visited a woman who had been attending for some years. When they arrived at her house, for some reason she did not want them to come inside. The Packs stood in the driveway, in the hot July sun, speaking with the woman for quite some time.

Mr. Pack finally said, “Could we go inside and talk?”

After stalling, she reluctantly agreed, and they began to enter her home through the screened in front porch, with Mrs. Pack leading the way. But as they approached the front door, she suddenly stopped dead in her tracks.

“Come on, Shirley,” her husband urged, “go inside.”

He could not yet see what had caught her attention. Peering into a darkened room, she saw more than 60 cats—their excrement everywhere, emitting an unimaginable stench! Mr. Pack looked over her shoulder and stopped his gentle pushing from behind!

As the Packs conducted the short remainder of the visit outside, it became further evident that the “Cat Lady” exhibited bizarre behavior and was of a different spirit. Yet, the previous pastor had permitted her into the Church, and to remain there—another example of what happens when an “open door” policy is in effect.

Leaving, Mr. Pack thought about how one of the signs a person is possessed or influenced by a demon is that he lives in absolutely filthy conditions—and by choice. This was one of the first times he had seen this. Christ talked about unclean spirits for more than one reason. God’s Spirit is one of a “sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7).

The “cat lady” never returned to Church.

The 23-year-old “Prophet”

Shortly after moving to Rochester, the Packs discovered there had been a young man in the congregation who had claimed to be a prophet. The 23-year-old, who had just left the Church, was attempting to draw a following. He had successfully convinced his sister to follow him, with whom he had occasionally attended services, and had been influencing others when Mr. Pack arrived in the area.

Four or five members believed he was a prophet and that they should follow him. The new pastor was left to pick up the pieces and prevent others from being deceived. The ones who did follow him could not be convinced he was a false prophet—they left the Church! In fact, in the process, another young man decided he, too, was a prophet.

At just 28 years old, it was Mr. Pack’s first experience of anyone, especially men so young, arising to draw a personal following as a “prophet.” It stood as an example of how anyone, at any age, could say almost anything and someone would follow him.

From these lesson-filled examples, Mr. Pack learned that some had been permitted to drift into a Church where they never belonged. Others entered and later went astray; rarely could they be retrieved. Some people were “ruined” either before they got into the Church or became so after.

These were but a few of the early “Rochester” lessons, things learned that would be crucial preparation for later responsibility.

“This was the first time that I worked with large numbers of people as a full pastor, and I was able to see that many just did not ‘get it.’ It would be Rochester and Syracuse that more deeply ingrained in me that great numbers attending the Worldwide Church of God were simply not of God. I certainly was not ready yet to ‘put it all together’ in my mind, but I was experiencing things that would help me do this later toward very important ends.”

Car Chase

More information came to light about the heavily medicated, deranged man that Mr. Pack had been told about on his first Sabbath in Rochester.

The previous minister had filed harassment charges and a judge issued a restraining order against the unsound individual, which the young man soon violated. The police came to his house to arrest him.

He answered the door and said, “Just a moment; let me get my coat.”

The man shut the door, bolted from the back of the house and jumped into his car. While the police waited on the front porch, he roared past them in reverse! The authorities pursued him in what turned into a 100-mph police chase through city streets.

The pursuit ended when the young man crashed his vehicle, destroying six parked cars in the process, but leaving him unscratched. The police arrested him and placed him in a psychiatric hospital for intense observation. He was released shortly afterward, pending his guarantee to continue taking his medication.

Since he had just assumed pastoral duties in Rochester, Mr. Pack was not familiar with the severity of the man’s mental issues. So he had cautiously given him the benefit of the doubt, allowing the young man to continue attending. The arrangement was that he promised to stay on his medications. This would last until the Feast of Tabernacles at Mount Pocono.

It was a decision that would be regretted. But Mr. Pack is the first to admit that his experience had not yet prepared him for such people. There would be many more on similar medications in years to come. Time would show that most of these would never recover.

Sermonette Seminar

It was very soon evident that the local leaders—deacons, elders and other sermonette men—had received little or no guidance in regard to effective speaking. An idea was born that would grow over the decades:

“Because the Church was entering the tail-end of the liberal years, I noticed the tone and spiritual information of the messages were weak. They were also poorly constructed and evidenced a lack of the most basic interest or zeal in preparing something meaningful and helpful to the brethren. I wanted to equip the local men to be strong speakers who could really edify the congregations.

“So in the fall of 1977, I decided to gather the best parts of the important information about preaching I had heard over the past 10 years, including Ambassador College, into an extensive sermonette seminar. This would be given to the deacons and elders on the speaking list in Rochester and Syracuse. Over the course of two Sundays, I passed along the best ‘nuggets’ and advice, principles and ideas I had heard.

“I also gave this seminar later in Buffalo in the early 1980s, and after that in Akron, Ohio in the early 1990s, as well as again early in The Restored Church of God in the spring of 2000.

“When our oldest son went to Ambassador College in 1990, in his second year he received a surprise. He called home and reported, ‘One of the instructors in my class asked us if we knew Dave Pack. I was surprised and raised my hand. I answered, ‘Yes…he’s my father.’

“Then my son explained how the teacher handed out to the class the carefully prepared notes of my sermonette seminar, exactly as my wife had typed them. I learned later that, beginning in 1979, Ambassador College was using my seminar as the central curriculum for giving sermonettes. I learned that a copy of my notes had fallen into Mr. Dean Blackwell’s hands, and he had decided to take them to Ambassador to make it part of the standard curriculum. It was my understanding that this continued until early 1993, meaning that for perhaps up to 15 years this material had been helping future speakers.

“It was most gratifying to find that ministers who left the college from the late 1970s until the early 1990s were still using the material I prepared.”

Things Go Wrong

The first Sabbath morning of the Feast in 1977, Mr. Pack was summoned to the Festival security office and told that the disturbed young man from his area had been involved in a bar fight the previous evening!

Imagine: A member of God’s Church was drunk…in a bar…on God’s Sabbath…at His Feast…in a fight!

Mr. Pack instructed security personnel to closely watch him, and then called the man’s parents, telling them their son was “off his medication” again. They agreed to immediately drive to Mount Pocono (a five-hour trip) and pick him up. (It will momentarily be evident why this story is included in some detail in this biography.)

Meanwhile, as the minister spoke on the telephone, the man eluded security guards, bolted out of the building into the woods—and into a driving rainstorm of 40-degree Fahrenheit weather without even a coat on.

Security called the local police, who combed the surrounding woods with dogs. Naturally, the hunt created quite a stir among the 9,000 brethren attending the site. Somehow God kept the story from the press.

The authorities finally found the young man squatting under a tree in the woods—naked and peering above his head.

“They want to take me away,” he said. “Don’t you see them—the UFOs? They’re 10 feet over my head!”

The police took him into custody and put him in a Pennsylvania psychiatric ward. A year later, shortly after being released again, he overdosed on drugs and died.

Nearly 30 years later, the facts of the account have long been drowned out by rumor, gossip, innuendo and plain misinformation. Many still cite the tragic account as an example of Mr. Pack’s “harsh” style, “lack of love” and “inability to help” people—driving them to suicide.

In truth, his mistake was not knowing enough about the man and permitting him to remain in the Church in the first place.

Yet, for so many, what has occurred on such terrible occasions does not matter. For them, it is easier to believe a sensational falsehood than to seek the facts and understand the truth of the matter, assuming they need to understand such things at all.

The still only 28-year-old pastor had to learn that sometimes ministers must live with circumstances akin to an ambush as early as their very first Sabbath in an area. Mr. Pack reminded himself to never forget that difficult day, and to always immediately deal with explosive problems that should not wait. Employing unwise “kindness” and unwise “patience” yield later accusations just the same.

Troubled Woman

Looking back, before his Rochester assignment, several ministers at the 1976 Feast of Tabernacles in Mount Pocono summoned Mr. Pack to the festival security office.

“We have a woman here who seems like she may be bothered by a spirit,” they told him. “What do you think?”

Not knowing what to do, they had sent for the young minister because of his training and experience in dealing with brethren troubled by demons. (Recall how in Newburgh, a month before the Feast, there occurred what became an instance in which Mr. Pack had cast seven demons from a man, right in his home.)

Mr. Pack looked at the woman in the security office, who was acting extremely strange. One of the pastors dismissed her bizarre behavior as “pure schizophrenia” and “a psychological problem.”

“No!” Mr. Pack said. “This woman has at least one spirit, and probably two.”

Though they disagreed on the exact nature of her problem, the ministers did agree she had no place at God’s Feast. They immediately sent her home.

Mr. Pack did not give the incident another thought, as the woman was not in the congregations he then served and the problem had been removed from the Feast.

However, on his first Sabbath in Rochester, Mr. Pack was surprised to see the same woman sitting in the congregation—the third of the three serious earlier-described problems about which the local church elder had warned him. Apparently, the previous minister had permitted her to attend services some time after the Feast. It was even more surprising when this same elder later conveyed more of the details of her history.

Mr. Pack attempted to gather all the facts and not rush to judgment, so he visited her at her home. He needed to decide whether he should inform her that she could not attend Sabbath services.

The decision was almost immediately made for him. While he was conducting the local congregation’s first Women’s Club at a nearby Holiday Inn, the still-troubled woman was there, and, during the proceedings, leapt from her chair, threw her arms in the air, and shrieked as she fell backward on the women behind her.

Surrounded by several dozen terrified ladies, Mr. Pack sternly told the woman (actually, the spirit troubling her), “In the name of Jesus Christ, hold still and be quiet.”

She immediately dropped to the floor, trembling.

“Don’t say one word,” Mr. Pack commanded. “I know who and what you are.” Thirty shaken women observed.

An ambulance was called to take her away. When the paramedics arrived, they came to recognize that the woman only responded to Mr. Pack. After they loaded her into the ambulance, they asked him if he would be willing to ride with her to the hospital. It was an unusual request, but he complied, ordering the woman not to utter another word en route, and she did not.

The scene reflected badly upon the Worldwide Church of God in the eyes of the local public. This became another reason in Mr. Pack’s thinking that people who do not belong in God’s Church must not, if possible, be permitted to ever get there in the first place.

Mr. Pack could under no circumstances permit the woman to attend any longer. Since she was vexed by demons, it would have been imprudent to continue working with her while still in the Church. She had been bothered for many years, been divisive, and had shown no signs of progress. Therefore, in accordance with Church doctrine, Mr. Pack did not permit her to attend Sabbath services, and distanced the Church and himself from her.

A year passed with no contact—yet she somehow had the idea that Mr. Pack planned to let her attend services again! That summer, after he returned from vacation, she unexpectedly telephoned him.

“Mr. Pack, while you were gone I was told by one of my friends that I would be allowed to come back to services now that you’re back from vacation.”

Naturally, the minister was confused as to what could have led her to think this. He sought to diffuse the situation.

“I’m sorry,” Mr. Pack said. “You cannot attend. Just keep studying and working with the Bible Correspondence Course at home.”

About two hours later, he received a call from one of the woman’s daughters.

“I’m curious, Mr. Pack,” she said calmly. “What did you say to my mother when she called you?”

The young pastor explained he had not spoken to the woman in almost a year, but had quietly told her she could not return to services, and asked, “Why are you calling?”

The daughter said, “Well, after hanging up the phone with you, Mr. Pack, my mother walked straight out into the backyard and shot herself in the head.”

Staggered by the news, Mr. Pack saw underscored a valuable lesson, again, never to be forgotten: Problems must be diffused immediately. What might have occurred if he had allowed this terribly disturbed woman to fellowship with the local congregation?

Sadly, some today blame Mr. Pack for the troubled woman’s death. Their “reason”? Because he did not show enough “love.”

“I knew that a demon had been involved and had tried to set me up with such a call from her out of the blue. I also remember being very angry that the previous pastor had put me in this position.

“Over the years, my enemies have done much to promote this story and two other accounts, one of which has already been described. Yet I had not the slightest involvement in any of these tragic occasions.

“The stories propagated about my involvement are pure fiction, and all who were involved in each case understood this. Had I been responsible in even a small way for such tragedies, one could have supposed that my ministry would not have continued, or there would have been some kind of consequences. These stories from the past are included here since they are a part of my life’s story, and occupy a place in the realm of ‘urban legend.’

“As I have learned so many times, those in God’s ministry must always be prepared to ‘play the hand that you are dealt’ by the previous pastor, men who were sometimes no more converted than a stump. I did the best I could at playing cards that no incoming minister should receive. But there would be one more similar occasion, and many additional times when ‘inherited’ problems would be laid at my feet. I had been trained from early on that when these things happen you just lean harder into the wind. And I did.”

Roots Discovered

Some weeks after arriving in Rochester and Syracuse, Mr. Pack was approached by a woman in the Syracuse congregation who knew some “Packs” who had lived there in the past. She referenced a turn-of-the-century book titled, “A Thousand and One Prominent Syracusans.” Mr. Pack explained that his family had no connection to Syracuse, but rather his grandfather was from Indianapolis, Indiana. However, he was interested in seeing the book. She brought it the next week.

“I was dumbfounded at a reference to a very successful man named Charles L. Pack. One of his five children was named William Randall Pack, named in the book, who was born in 1885 in Syracuse, the year of my grandfather’s birth.

“This single moment would lead me down a long, winding—and wide—road of genealogical research on the Pack family. The journey would last for years. It would take me to the early 1600s in England and to the birth of my seventh great grandfather (George Packe) there, who fled religious persecution by sailing from Plymouth to America in 1665 at age 30. In fact, I even found his oath of allegiance to King Charles II, as one of the first 80 settlers in New Jersey when the English kicked the Dutch out of New Amsterdam.

“My journey would also lead to a host of living relatives and knowledge of the family that I simply found fascinating. In fact, after I learned that my grandfather had moved to Buffalo—and this was learned shortly after I was transferred there four years later—I discovered that Charles L. Pack and my great grandmother were buried just outside my neighborhood.

“It is a small world.”

Chapter Nineteen – Congregations Turn Around

While promptly addressing the many problems in the Rochester and Syracuse congregations, Mr. Pack was also implementing simple organization and structure: instituting brief weekly meetings before Sabbath services with deacons and elders, distributing information, delegating responsibilities, and teaching everyone their proper roles within local Church government. These things were taken seriously.

“Underground” Greeting

In addition, Mr. Pack established a greeting team that operated “below radar” in the congregation. When new people were set to attend services, a specially trained team was alerted on Friday night and Mr. Pack gave the team leader a physical description of the expected new attendees.

The next day at services, everyone on the team would greet the new visitors before and after services, and always for at least three weeks in a row. Each of the 15 to 20 adults on the team was personally responsible for introducing the new people to at least one other local Church member, and were to offer them coffee or juice, before moving on.

This ensured that new brethren felt warmed and welcomed. Mr. Pack has long believed this was the biggest single reason his congregations grew so fast, and why there had been such high participation in all Church activities.

Next, the number of activities and socials were increased, and transformed into exciting “extravaganzas” in which there was something for everyone. One of the goals of Mr. Pack’s ministry was to make sure everyone was included, whether it was little children at a social or widows attending a senior dinner. The goal was to make everyone feel welcomed, involved and appreciated—at every occasion. The result was that most of the congregation would remain longer at Church functions, and bond more closely.

In addition, there were well-organized larger sports programs offering wholesome fun, and these were based on enjoying good (not perfect) attitudes.

These positive changes—which were designed to bring leadership, organization, efficiency and right authority—began to turn around the congregations.

Giant Picnics

In previous years, only about one third of the brethren, and sometimes only 15 or 20 percent, typically attended the annual summer picnic. Mr. Pack felt it his duty to make picnics so much fun, with so much going on, that there would be higher attendances there than at services. This was because he wanted members to be able to include their non-member relatives in one positive, happy Church function a year that cast the members in a good light in the eyes of their relatives.

But, to enhance the occasion, the decision was made to have one picnic for both congregations midway between the two cities, while recognizing that this extra driving could actually reduce attendance—if the picnics were not made to be very special. Also, new people were more likely to come to functions. Big, exciting, fun announcements were prepared for weeks in advance, building up anticipation and letting out new details each week.

Even with the extra drive, higher attendance than services the day before would still occur because some brethren did still bring their non-member relatives. This level of participation was almost unheard of in other congregations. It became a reason that brethren from surrounding areas sometimes came, something that did not generally please their pastor—they were looking for a better picnic or social elsewhere.

The congregation enjoyed the fruits of these improvements. And some who had stopped attending returned to Church.

“After we transferred from an area it seemed that invariably the specialness of these occasions was quickly lost under the hand of succeeding pastors who did not seem to care. Sadly, I would hear that attendance was beginning to drop back as before. But never all the way.

“Looking back, I have to admit that subsequent pastors were sometimes in an awkward position trying to ‘match’ what had gone before. But my job was to bring an event that mirrored the joy of Acts 2:42-46.

“I think this is still the picture at The Restored Church of God Headquarters picnics today.”

Initiating the principle of “Organization equals production and peace,” something Mr. Pack heard from a minister years earlier, the Rochester and Syracuse congregations grew, becoming the fastest-growing in the country.

The transformations and the speed at which this pastorate increased in size were so drastic that Headquarters sent several ministers to see this firsthand.

Mr. Pack most attributed this growth to two things: (1) regularly visiting all brethren, and making sure he knew everyone by name, down to the little children; and (2) being sure that everyone always felt included, no matter the activity, with the greeting team quietly acting to build warmth every Sabbath, before and after services.

So Many Visits, So Many People!

Recall from his college days how Mr. Pack learned very early that the Work of God is people. Ministers must learn this fast if they are to succeed. They are called to work with living, breathing human beings made in the image of God, and these come in every conceivable shape, size, experience, age, sex, race, religious background and culture.

One of the most unique aspects of Mr. Pack’s ministry was working with so many different kinds of people. This would be evident in future pastorates, but it was already the case by the time he was leaving Rochester and Syracuse. After he would no longer be serving as a field pastor, Mr. Pack would find himself saying that he had made perhaps 20,000 or more separate visits with brethren (and prospective members) in God’s Church. This is the centerpiece of all successful ministers’ service.

“I loved visiting and talking to people. There was simply nothing like it. What else could be more interesting than human beings? There are those who seem to want to work with things and others who wish to work with ideas, and so do I. But ultimately, I wanted to work with people. I still do. It has not changed since I asked my pastor about the ministry at age 18.

“While I was shy as a young person, because of so many years spent literally underwater, I overcame this and grew to love working with my fellow man. Frankly, I could not get enough of it.

“Of course, I enjoyed my free time—being able to think and be alone, to reflect. Being in the yard or taking long walks through the years as has been described was very important to me. But ultimately, a lot of my free time would be spent coming back to ask time and again, How can I work more effectively with people? What am I seeing? What am I missing?

“These thousands of visits taught me a host of different counseling techniques. It has been explained that most of these were neither taught very much at Ambassador College nor did my supervisors in the field teach them much. I had to teach myself about people, with the scriptures as my guide.

“If one will think about it, most of what is needed in order to understand people is right there in the Bible. But one must search for it. And I did.

“I learned and observed, and I found out what does and does not work. I must say that some of what I concluded was from trial and error. But other times it amounted to having faith that God would put words in my mouth to be able to answer questions I had never heard before.

“Often were the times that I left a visit and wrote down what I had heard myself say. I literally took notes on my own counseling. My wife often did this in the car on the way to the next visit. It was obvious God had inspired a point or points in a conversation, and I decided to be willing to record it for future use.

“Working with 10,000 people, either as a ministerial assistant, associate pastor or pastor, provided its own marvelous, rich experience. I still find working with people to be fascinating, and this biography would be incomplete if it did not talk about the many, many lessons born of visiting.

“Finally, of course, I felt it was my responsibility to teach these things to ministers I worked with. I did not want to require that they have to figure everything out to the degree I did. It would be hypocritical to wish I could have learned more things by instruction, and then fail to do it myself when given the opportunity. This is why so much emphasis is given in The Restored Church of God to training our ministers—to fully equipping them in all facets of feeding the flock.”

The Raise that Wasn’t

There were still certain financial struggles taking place in the Pack household.

“It was Church policy to give raises to ministers who were raised in rank. When I was raised to a Preaching Elder I was supposed to be given a raise, but did not receive one. I had just assumed my raise in rank had come at a time when the Work could not afford to give me a raise. I figured that I was just an exception to the policy and had to live with it.

“Approximately a year and some months later, my supervisor in New Jersey called and said, ‘It was noticed that you never received a raise when you were promoted and transferred, but you were supposed to get one. I did the math and you should have been paid $2,300 more than you were last year.’ (This would have been $7,000 in today’s dollars.) The area coordinator sincerely apologized, and added that all they could do was send $300. So we did receive a check for $300, leaving us out $2,000. But at least it had been $2,000 we had not known about.

“This period came right when my little—but growing—boys were beginning to eat more. Because of our financial situation, they had long been forced to wear hand-me-downs. Our boys were already wearing, and did for years, the clothes of their three older cousins. My wife’s older sister was very thoughtful to systematically give us these clothes, since we generally could not afford new clothes for our children. We were most grateful for that generosity, and it lasted for many years. We looked at it as though God was still taking care of us.”

Jealousy Breeds Resentment

There was another reason the transformation of the Rochester and Syracuse congregations stood out: Many ministers in surrounding areas were not following correct doctrine and policy. This created a double standard with discerning brethren. Also, these areas were not being blessed in the same visible way.

While multiple, large activities regularly occurred in the Rochester area, the lack of such activities in the surrounding pastorates made a huge statement. Brethren from other pastorates often expressed how wonderful it was to see unity, organization and participation so evident. Since so many WCG ministers preferred to idly coast along and were slack in their ministerial responsibilities, resentment arose. Their comments would on occasion be reported back to Mr. Pack from Church Administration. (Remember, the apostasy demonstrated that two-thirds of all ministers readily gave up everything they had professed to believe, and did so easily and quickly, so a lack of zeal in such matters is not difficult to understand. And most of the rest of the ministry would later prove themselves to be lukewarm at best.)

Another critical element in transforming these congregations was the attention paid to the local youth programs. Previous programs had been overly tolerant of worldly influences when it came to appearance, music and conduct. Programs were purged of lowered standards that mirrored society in the late 1970s. Parents and teens were educated about God’s Way. Youth programs were built, which lessened the problems among young people.

But despite the positive results, a select few (locally and in neighboring pastorates) harbored the feeling that Mr. Pack was “the hard guy.”

Looking back, Mr. Pack recalled:

“When you draw a line in the sand, and the ministers around you do not, you stick out like a sore thumb. Some saw me as harsh compared to others. Never mind that I was tall, and from a high-profile family in the Church because I had married Mr. Armstrong’s secretary. I simply could not hide—nor did I seek to. Decisive leadership was necessary. Of course, I could never have imagined that merely administering standards the Bible taught and Mr. Armstrong adhered to could be so problematic and controversial.

“I was sent into these troubled areas time and again where many were ‘lying in wait.’ Tares were everywhere, waiting, ready to explode when true standards were re-introduced. And it seemed surrounding pastors always grew resentful. All of these factors made my ministry a tremendous challenge.

“Cleaning up programs and standards was interesting and rewarding as I saw the many positive effects on people’s lives, but it was also extremely difficult, and wearying, dealing with the constant politics of what later were understood to be, for the most part, a carnal-minded ministry that had grown up throughout the Church. Of course, this was later evidenced as true in the same large percentages among the lay members.

“I just could not always put together the great overall meaning of what I was observing—and enduring—at the time. None of us could know until later how right was Mr. Armstrong when he said, ‘90 percent of you do not get it.’ However, I was sure getting good training for all that would come.”

Inclusive, but Not Tolerant

Again, the defining characteristic of Mr. Pack’s ministry was his desire to include all brethren. Sadly, most ministers equated inclusiveness with allowing anyone into the Church who wanted to be there.

But God’s intention to ultimately include all people in His Plan was never to be a license for any to “come as you are” into the Church of God. People had to understand right and wrong as it pertained to truth, conduct and God’s Law. Within these guidelines and standards, Mr. Pack’s congregations were extremely inclusive, perhaps as much as any congregation throughout the Church. If brethren chose to act outside of acceptable conduct, however, it was made clear to them they would likely be more comfortable elsewhere, in another church. Only rarely did they actually have to be “sent away.”

Because he was careful to enforce God’s “rules and regulations,” those who chose to buck clearly-defined policy and guidelines viewed Mr. Pack as a “dictator.” So many failed to grasp the importance of holding to standards.

One example of this was during one of the first Sabbaths he attended in the Syracuse congregation. Mr. Pack noticed a baptized couple who had issues with hair length: The husband literally wore shoulder-length hair; his wife’s hair was much shorter than his, but marginally acceptable by God’s standards.

Mr. Pack politely explained to the couple that the Church had always understood that long hair on a woman is a clear sign of subjection in marriage, and that the Church—from the Bible!—plainly instructed men not to have long hair. (Interestingly, there was subjection in their marriage—the milquetoast husband bowed to his wife’s authority!) Although the previous pastor had allowed it, it was made clear to the husband that his hair had to be cut right away.

The couple smiled, said they would not comply and immediately left the Church.

Understand that if someone will leave the entirety of God’s truth—and the true happiness only experienced living God’s Way—over issues such as hair, personal appearance or basic conduct, then it is an indication that the person’s heart was never in the right place. Such minds could not have ever been converted.

Yet time and experience would go on to reveal that only a relative few in the Church probably ever had the Spirit of God.

18-Hour Sabbath Routine

While God set apart the Sabbath to be a weekly day of rest for all people, this was by far the hardest working day of the week for His ministers. In Rochester and Syracuse, 18-hour Sabbaths of preaching to and serving brethren were the norm.

For example, Mr. Pack woke up at 5:00 a.m. every Sabbath morning to finish preparing his sermon. His family arrived for services at 10:00 a.m. in Rochester, where he delivered a sermon, fellowshipped for an hour and a quarter, and then drove an hour and 40 minutes to Syracuse, where services started at 3:00 p.m. After giving another sermon, the Pack family usually stayed for several hours before heading home, arriving late in the evening.

Aware of the needs in the smaller of his two congregations, Mr. Pack planned his day accordingly, making sure he ended the Sabbath in Syracus