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Where Is God’s Church Today?
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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
Foreword

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 the websites of The Restored Church of God—rcg.org and realtruth.org—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.

Humiliated

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.

Commencement

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.”