1) What brought you to Christian High School and what was your experience like?
I’m a first-generation immigrant, from Stockholm, Sweden, who settled with my Estonian and Finnish parents—both driven from their homes by occupying Soviet and Nazi armies—in a Finnish community in Quincy. As I’d attended Christian schools since third grade, CHS was attractive to us. Dad drove us to Lexington to see the new CHS building, still under construction.
From 7th Grade through 12th, I commuted across Boston. Walter Peterson, President of the CHS Board, drove me from next-door Milton on his way to work in Belmont; I joined the gang taking the MBTA home from Arlington Heights through Harvard Square.
2) What activities were you involved in while a student?
My CHS sports participation was comical. As Center on the Junior High team, at 5’11”, I gave away most of a foot and maybe 40 lbs to opponents. I warmed the baseball bench too. But it was Chorale, in Senior year, that changed everything.
Music Director Dan Foster and classmate Donna Taylor ambushed me one morning to “draft” me as Chorale accompanist. I groaned, but gave in. The big event was a six-state, Spring Break tour. As I sat in a New Jersey church on that first Sunday, eyes closed while the preacher prayed, it was Jesus ambushing me. Vividly real, He asked, “What are you going to do with Me?” Even I was surprised with my answer: “I want You; Please come in!” Quietly, it was clear that something big had changed. “I feel clean,” I remarked. Days later, I gave my first public testimony of faith in Jesus.
Foster, Taylor and Peterson testified with smiles and tears that they saw a change too. That Spring also brought a surprising awakening at LCA that saw perhaps a third of the student body step forward to profess faith in Jesus over three days of assemblies.
3) Which faculty members impacted you the most while at CHS/LCA?
It’s often said of making one’s way in life, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” That’s truest about Jesus. LCA equipped me well with language, writing, study discipline and thinking—thanks to teachers like Laurence Taylor, who “taught us to think” and Lois Sulahian, who helped me articulate new-found faith through English papers and reading—along with many others. I didn’t struggle academically in college. But nothing prepared me for college, professional and community life more practically than coming to know and rely on Jesus.
4) Tell us a bit about your college experience:
I started Columbia University during a year of protests, picket lines and off-site classes. I saw Classmates succumb to temptations and thinking that troubled and aged them before their time. But fifty years later, I remain awed that God unfolded a different agenda for me. Freshman year was Christian Boot Camp—in a decidedly non-Christian environment. I was led—systematically, it seemed—through a series of important personal decisions and commitments. God connected me with Christians who remain my closest friends and colleagues—and extraordinary mentors, including a veteran missionary and a celebrated newspaper reporter and Christian author. My wife, Sharon, came to Christ early in her freshman year at Yale; we were colleagues in campus ministry before we married, 35 years ago.
5) What are some of the highlights of your professional life after college?
It was in church one Sunday during my first year of college that I heard a message urging Christian participation in electronic mass media. It immediately arrested me. A resumé, applications and interviews opened no doors, but prayer strongly confirmed my interest. A call practically out of thin air offered temporary work at a major TV network. I thanked God as if it were a permanent job. Soon, it became just that, followed by 24 years of professional growth in Marketing, Finance, Systems development, Production Operations and start-up businesses at CBS. After ten years at CBS News, I joined a team launching cbsnews.com and, later, a venture-capital funded teacher education Web start-up. CBS paid most of my college tuition while I worked. In retirement (though I’m busier than ever), I’ve been developing websites and producing videos on scriptural topics, staying active in our congregation in teaching, writing and various other responsibilities.
6) How has your faith guided your life after graduating from LCA?
Scarcely a day passes without my looking back in gratitude to the LCA Chorale tour where Jesus visited me and gave me a life—an encounter He created through the prayers and nurture of many CHS/LCA individuals over its 75 years. At my class’s 50-year mark, I find no better—or demonstrably truer—advice than that of Yale’s president, Timothy Dwight (1795-1817):
“Give yourselves, therefore, to Him with a cordial confidence,
and the great work of life is done.”
7) If you could offer just one piece of career advice to today’s students, what would it be?
For a High School student, it seems more appropriate to think of beginnings than endings, but investing trust in Jesus, and keeping it there no matter what, truly is the great work of life—and the single route to hearing Him say, at length, “Well done!”