Harold and Dana Ayer (64) have been devoted to PLNU longer and more closely than many who’ve called Point Loma (and Pasadena College) home.
Black and white photo of Harold and Dana walking down the aisle at their wedding
Harold and Dana at their wedding

“Our association with the school and the friends we’ve made along the way have just been fabulous,” Harold said. “We have wonderful friends from our time at the college that we’ve had for 60 years.”

Harold has been a practicing attorney since 1967. Both Harold and Dana are retired educators, with Harold having taught business law at PLNU from 1973 to 2007, and Dana teaching elementary in the San Diego school district throughout her career. Dana also served as the chair of PLNU’s Department of Music alumni board for several years. They’ve served as faithful donors for decades, and continue to be devoted members of the PLNU family.

Dana started as a student at Pasadena College in 1959 and Harold in 1960, but their connection to the university goes back even further. Although Dana was the first in her family to attend college, she always knew she’d go to PC.

“I grew up going to [Nazarene church summer] camp meetings on the Pasadena campus, so it was just a given,” Dana said. “There was never any question.”

Harold was similarly involved in the Nazarene sphere. His mother went to Olivet Nazarene University in 1938, and Harold only had eyes for PC.

“We were Nazarenes our whole life. I didn’t even think of going to another college.”

“We were Nazarenes our whole life,” Harold said. “I didn’t even think of going to another college.”

As a student, Harold was the photographer for Pasadena College’s school newspaper, the school’s annual guide, and other publicity projects. His photos of the campus over the years, including landscape photos taken from a helicopter, were used often in a variety of publications. He took many pictures for Dr. W. Shelburne Brown, who would become the president of the university from 1964 (the year Harold and Dana graduated) to 1978.

Image of the cover of one of the PLNU Catalogs where Harold Ayer's photos were featured
The cover of one of the PLNU Catalogs where Harold Ayer’s photos were featured

Dana was involved in the music department throughout college. She was the pianist for the Harmoneers quartet, which traveled to Nazarene churches on weekends and toured during the summer. During her first year, Dana played piano accompaniment for vocal lessons taught by Professor Chester Crill (for whom Crill Performance Hall is named).

Harold and Dana married during college, graduated together in 1964, and moved to San Diego. They both attended California Western University, where Harold completed his Juris Doctor and Dana finished her teaching credential. Little did they know that just a few years after they graduated in the Greek amphitheatre at Cal Western, Pasadena College would purchase their Point Loma campus and move there.

“It was an amazing surprise — I never knew [the college] would move anywhere, let alone our backyard!”

“It was an amazing surprise — I never knew [the college] would move anywhere, let alone our backyard!” Harold said.

When the university moved, Harold was asked to teach a business law course for the newly renamed Point Loma College. He agreed and taught the course for many years.

“I’ve had somewhere between 1,600 and 1,800 students over the 40 years,” he said. “I started when I was 30 and quit when I was 73.”

Harold has run his own law practice since 1972, and has worked with a variety of clients, including congress members. At times, he worked with congress members and politicians. Sometimes, he would double as a photographer at fundraising banquets with big-name guests.

Black and white photo of Harold and Dana around the time they got married

“They’d have a fundraising banquet, and there would be a speaker like Johnny Cash, or Sonny Bono, and people would pay $100 to hear them speak, and if they paid $500, I’d take a picture [of them] with the star,” Harold said. “It was very fun.”

Dana taught 4th and 5th grade as an elementary school teacher the majority of her career. Although she is now retired, she continues to be involved in education. In addition to being on the Department of Music alumni board for many years, and has been on several committees choosing recipients of PLNU’s Rising Alumni award. For this award, Dana explained how much she enjoyed the hours reading about the exceptional students being considered for the honor each year.

“It has really impacted me, just to read the sacrifices that the students make to come to Point Loma, what their ambitions are, and how the school affects them today,” Dana said.

When reflecting on his time teaching at PLNU, Harold is happy to have impacted generations of rising professionals, many of whom went on to become accountants and lawyers. He remembered being approached by one young intern at an accounting firm that was quick to remind Harold that he was once a student in his class.

“He said he had [me] for business law,” Harold said  “And that his mother did, too!’”

Harold and Dana’s decades of meaningful experiences with PLNU have accompanied their extraordinary ongoing commitment to generations of students. It’s rare to see a family with such close ties to PLNU (and its incomparable campus) even 60 years later.

Toby Franklin is the copy editor for PLNU’s Marketing team. He is a reader and writer of speculative fiction and comic books.