On Sunday, November 24th, we welcomed ten new members into the Grace Memorial community. For the next several weeks, we’ll be learning more about all of them. This week: Paul and Debbie Walter!
Paul grew up in Japan, and Debbie grew up in California along the Central Caast. They have been married for 44 years and have two adult children, Eric and Michelle, both of whom are married. Eric teaches high school in Los Angeles and loves it. Michelle is a librarian who works in special education at a small school down the Valley. She and her husband have two delightful teenage kids, so Paul and Debbie are grandparents too!
Paul and Debbie have enjoyed traveling but are essentially introverts who enjoy quietness, reading, a cup of tea or coffee, and no TV.
Paul sees himself as, “something like a married monk — whatever that is.”
Paul and Debbie are both retired. They have been on a forty-year ecclesiastical pilgrimage, from Baptist, to Episcopalian, to Lutheran, to Roman Catholic, and now back to Episcopalian.
They write, “We are finding Grace to be a welcome balance between high and low church. There is a refreshing blend of both the vertical and the horizontal dimensions. The focus on the beautiful music, liturgy, and church interior, punctuated by moments of corporate silence runs so counter to all that swirls around us outside the church doors, but rather than being stuffy, there is warmth between our brothers and sisters in Christ and a respectful handling of the Word of God. Thanks to everyone for making us feel welcome and for the role each on you plays in making Grace a beacon of light in a dark world.”
Carol recently moved to Portland from the Bay Area, but if you talk to her you will notice her accent is not one of just any Californian. Carol grew up in Wales and moved to the states as a nurse. It was during her initial visit to the states when she met her husband Rene. Together they decided to immigrate to the states (Rene was from Belgium). They lived together in California for over forty years. They traveled domestically and internationally throughout their marriage.
After Rene passed away a few years ago, Carol’s daughter and son-in-law, who also are both in the medical field, encouraged her to move closer to them. Carol has two grandchildren that she loves to watch throughout the week, but when she isn’t watching little Ricky and Rene, you can find Carol at a ballroom dance lesson or showcase. Carol is looking forward to this new chapter in Portland.
Hope Hansmeyer came to Grace Memorial Episcopal about two years ago when she first moved into the Portland area from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She went to several other churches in the area, but she settled on Grace in part because of the genuine kindness she encountered here.
Hope has a background in social work, but upon moving to Portland, she worked for a time in a coffee shop, so she has the random skill of creating very delicious beverages. She now works for Multnomah County in the District Attorney’s Office, where she has become invaluable both to the attorneys (for keeping their schedules straight) and for victims of crime, who rely on her for status updates about the case that affects them, and information about how the system works, what to expect as their case unfolds, and she connects them with resources to deal with the trauma of being a crime victim.
Hope’s patience and her background and knowledge of social work make her a gift to the people who encounter her at work. She also has an excellent singing voice (she’s a strong soprano!) and in the VERY early mornings, you can find her at a Crossfit studio, enjoying the challenge of all the varied exercises as a way to start the day. Hope is a delight, and Grace is lucky to have her in the pews, and in our lives as a community.
Becca is a Portland native, with brief sojourns for school to Seattle and Corvallis. Ryan hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico, but was drawn to the Pacific Northwest when he chose the University of Portland for college. Becca completed her undergraduate degree at Oregon State University, then ventured to Seattle University to complete her master’s degree. After working at Bellevue College, Becca found a job at the University of Portland, where she met Ryan. Ryan had worked in the non-profit world prior to returning to his alma mater to work in academic advising, supporting the associate dean. Becca joined the advising staff with a focus on health professions. After such serendipitous job choices, they found each other, and were married in June 2018 by Mother Sara Fischer, who served as an associate at Grace Memorial in the early 2000s.
Becca grew up as a member St. John’s Episcopal Church in Milwaukie, where Father Dick Toll was her rector for many years. Becca and Ryan believe they’ve found their new church home here at Grace and appreciate the connections of Grace to their past church homes.
Ryan and Becca enjoy the Oregon Coast (where they celebrated their first anniversary), as well as the many adventures the Pacific Northwest offers. However, as you can see from the photograph, Disney is where they celebrate the joy of the “happiest place on earth.”
When Grace newcomer Calvin Richardson moved to Oregon just over two years ago, it was partly for the kind of life he imagined he could make here in Portland. He hoped to find a slower pace than his past few years in Boston had provided and, as an avid hiker, biker and rock-climber, he was excited by the easy access Portland provides to the Pacific NW wonderland of outdoor activities! Portland and the region haven’t disappointed. In addition to scaling Smith Rock and hiking in British Columbia (ask him about his bear encounter), Calvin’s enjoyed tasting Portland’s best beers and getting to know the city by bike. As a Manager of Provider Partnerships for Regence BlueCross BlueShield, he works to find innovative ways to lower the cost of healthcare so that it can be more readily available to anyone who needs it.
Calvin is the oldest of four kids and was raised in New England and Tennessee in the Southern Methodist church. In his late twenties he found the Episcopal Church and appreciated its ability to honor both tradition and a progressive view of what it means to be Christian. He’s found Grace to be a place that serves as an important, inclusive vision of Christ and Christians in our community, and he’s looking forward to continuing to make Grace, and Portland, his home.
Gael began her life in Chicago and Greg in Phoenix, but they met up in the Loch Ness Monster Pub over a game of darts in Pasadena, CA, in 1981. They were married in 1982 at All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena (the biggest Episcopal Church west of the Mississippi River) and later joined a smaller parish in nearby Sierra Madre, CA. They moved to Portland in June 2005 and were members at St. John’s in Milwaukie, before deciding to visit us during Advent in 2018. They have felt warmly welcomed into our community.
Greg and Gael have three grown children; son, Colin, and daughter, Brenna, live nearby in the Portland area, and their daughter, Ashlinn, lives in Brooklyn, NY. They also have a ten-year old Bichon Frise named “Scout.”
Greg worked in purchasing during much of his career—e.g., in aerospace, manufacturing and in the entertainment industry. Here in Portland, he works at the Healthy Bread Store for Dave’s Killer Bread. Gael was a teacher in California, but now works as a life coach and hypnotherapist.
The Smiths are movie buffs, and especially enjoy documentaries. They like dancing together, and Gael folk dances when she gets the chance. Greg likes to study history and the Bible, while Gael prefers true crime stories and enjoys practicing as an armchair forensic scientist.
Though they originally intended to “lay low” for a year and settle in, they have already been recruited to serve as ushers and look forward to it!