On Oct. 1, 2018, PLNU professor emeritus Beryl Dillman, Ed.D., celebrated his 100th birthday. Dillman served full time in the education department from 1968 until his retirement in 1990 and part time even after that.
“I am grateful to have been born in a Christian home, giving me a rich background and foundation in God’s Word and Christ’s love and forgiveness,” he said.
Dillman also expressed appreciation for the example set by his parents, for the opportunity to receive a rich education and to use it well, for many chances to travel, and for being able to work until the age of 80.
But Dillman isn’t simply living a life of memories — he continues to act out his commitment to serving God and others.
“He’d do anything for anyone,” Dillman’s daughter Carolyn Pence said. “If somebody needs help — and this is still true today — he will give his time, advice, finances, prayer, whatever is needed.”
During his time at Pasadena College (PC) and PLNU, Dillman helped usher in new opportunities for students, including establishing the graduate education program. He also helped create a unique joint doctoral program with Northern Arizona University. His second daughter, Ruth Sturges, remembers her dad taking students to Europe before study abroad programs were commonplace.
“We pursued many innovative, groundbreaking ideas in order to help students accomplish their goals of higher education,” Dillman said.
Dillman was also instrumental in PC’s move to San Diego to eventually become PLNU.
“Pasadena College at that time was growing and the need to expand was a very pressing issue,” he explained. “While I was at an education conference in San Diego, I found out that the Point Loma campus was for sale … When I shared this information with Dr. Shelbourne Brown (then president of Pasadena College), he expressed interest. He and the chairman of the board visited the property and pursued more information about the purchase. God, Dr. Brown, the Pasadena College Board of Directors, the City of San Diego, and the sellers worked out the details. And the rest, they say, is history.”
Dillman received his bachelor’s degree from Olivet Nazarene and his master’s and doctorate from the University of Illinois. Prior to coming to Pasadena College, Dillman served as a public high school teacher and principal and a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Northern Illinois University, and Olivet Nazarene. Dillman not only served as education department chair for PC/PLNU, but was also an accreditation team member or board member for several state and national organizations. In 1989, Dillman was named “Educator of the Quadrennium” by the Nazarene International Commission on Education.
Pence said she is filled with “joy and pride to know that Dad was a part of training up godly teachers who took the love of Jesus into their classrooms, be they public, private, or home schools.”
“Because of my parents, I’ve seen the joy and blessing that comes as we do God’s will and share the Gospel through words and actions,” she said. “This has shaped my life, the lives of my children, and hopefully will shape the lives of my grandchildren to want to daily continue the good work of Jesus wherever we are and with whomever we come in contact.”
Sturges has been equally influenced. She cites her parents’ example of devoted service to the church in many capacities and their continual, faithful prayer lives as being particularly meaningful.
“I’ve learned that the events of this world may impact us, but they don’t have to control our attitudes and responses.”
“My dad has been my model for faithfulness throughout my life,” Sturges said. “Even when it wasn’t easy or convenient, he was steadfastly faithful to his commitments, to his faith, his Lord, his church and its universities, his family, his students, his profession, [and] his community.”
In Dillman’s 100 years, he has witnessed many historic events, from Charles Lindbergh flying across the Atlantic to the events of WWII to the discovery of the polio vaccine to 9/11. He spent 50 years of marriage with his first wife, Hazel, before she passed away and another 20 with his second wife, Grace, who passed on in 2016. Throughout it all, Dillman knows the Gospel and messages of the Bible remain constant. That is why they are the foundation of his life.
“I’ve learned that the events of this world may impact us, but they don’t have to control our attitudes and responses,” he said.
Among his favorite passages is Mark 12:29-31: “The most important [commandment],” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
“When I apply this to my life, my attitudes, my actions, I am mightily blessed!” he said. “Along with these two commandments, I have tried to live by Matthew 7:12, ‘So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.’ Hard to do at times, but the outcome is rewarding! Even if it isn’t pleasant, it is rewarding!”