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Rev. Dr. C. Howard Wallace, who for nearly 60 years served the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary with energy, compassion, wit, and wisdom, entered into eternal life on December 21, 2022, at Bethany Home in Dubuque, Iowa. He was 98.
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Rev. Dr. C. Howard Wallace, who for nearly 60 years served the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary with energy, compassion, wit, and wisdom, entered into eternal life on December 21, 2022, at Bethany Home in Dubuque, Iowa. He was 98.
Clyde Howard Wallace (Howard) was born to Adlai Grover and Charlene Duggan Wallace on January 6, 1924, in Wellington, Kansas. Descended from a long line of Presbyterian ministers, his parents instilled in him the love of Christ, a passion for nature and travel, along with a strong desire to serve others. He grew up during the Dust Bowl years in South Central Kansas. He later recalled times when he was dismissed from school early due to the impending “black rollers,” which led to the chore of sweeping sand from the interior of their humble home. His family was one of modest means; however, they made sure that didn’t restrict them from traveling, often in the company of a diverse set of companions. It was during these trips that Howard witnessed intense discrimination, which would ultimately contribute to his strong belief in inclusivity for all.
Howard received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Park College (now Park University) in Parkville, Missouri, in 1945. He was an accomplished student, leading many campus clubs and activities. While he excelled in the classroom, the story he recalled most often was not academic in nature. Instead, it was synonymous with his conviction for equity and compassion and involved organizing nightly watches to protect his friend, a Japanese American student, against discriminatory acts after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Over the course of one college summer, Howard spent time with the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma. Here, he often received invitations to have dinner with tribal elders and their families. It was at these gatherings that he learned the Choctaw language, but not without encountering some typical adolescent mischievousness. During one such occasion, Howard had asked several teenage tribal members to translate a request into Choctaw. Unbeknownst to him, they substituted unsuitable language, which he then repeated to his hosts. The elders roared with laughter upon hearing this, signifying how well regarded he was within the community.
Howard met his first wife, Margaret (Peggy) McHenry, at Park College. Upon graduation, they moved to Chicago, where he attended McCormick Theological Seminary, receiving a Bachelor of Divinity degree. During his years in Chicago, Howard was the interim pastor at Community Presbyterian Church in East Gary (now Lake Station), Indiana, from 1948 to 1949. In addition to attending classes during the day, Howard worked as a night supervisor at the YMCA on Wabash Avenue. While at the YMCA, he befriended a scientist who had emigrated from Nazi Germany. They became friends while teaching each other their respective languages, which ultimately led Howard into the next phase of his life: attending the University of Basel in Switzerland.
While in Basel, Howard studied under renowned theologian Karl Barth, earning a Doctor of Theology degree. Ever the linguist, Howard learned ancient Hebrew by attending classes taught in German. Studying the Hebrew language during this time helped cement his theological ideology of applying dynamic thinking to his religious beliefs. He also made his knowledge of Hebrew part of a running joke about his inability to master certain technology, often exclaiming, “Conjugating Hebrew verbs is easy compared to figuring out this VCR!”
Upon the completion of his studies in Basel in 1951, Howard received a call to become the Presbyterian chaplain at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As chaplain from 1951 to 1959, he encouraged religious literacy and interfaith understanding while providing pastoral support and guidance, in times of both crisis and celebration. It was during his years at Harvard that his family welcomed four children: David, Susan, Martha, and Mark.
In 1959, Howard began what would become his life’s legacy: teaching and mentoring seminary students at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary (UDTS) in Dubuque, Iowa, where he would go on to become its longest-serving professor. During his years at UDTS, he was Professor of Biblical Theology, teaching a diverse set of classes throughout his tenure and on several occasions serving as interim dean. He helped shepherd the seminary through both fruitful and challenging years in the course of his long ministry. Later in his career, he developed a particular expertise in ministry with people suffering from alcoholism.
While he was a talented scholar, one of Howard’s greatest gifts was the ability to connect with and mentor students. This was evident in his vastly popular Bagel Bash, which he organized and held at the end of each academic year. During this annual celebration, Howard would transform himself into “Dr. Bageleme” to emcee the event, complete with a long-haired wig, umbrella (to shield him from pigeon droppings, of course), and bagels fastened haphazardly to his hat. In addition, he was a co-founder of the informal Izaak Walton Fly Fishing and Theology Society, often explaining that the group was “heavy on fishing and light on theology.”
Howard was very engaged within his community, serving as president of the Dubuque Community School Board in the late 1960s when plans were being set for the construction of Hempstead High School. He spearheaded support for approval of a bond issue to cover the costs of the building by promoting inclusivity and negotiating open access for both public and parochial school students to the planned indoor pool, ushering in the swim teams for Dubuque Senior and Wahlert high schools. Howard was also very active within the Presbyterian Church, taking on multiple roles at Westminster Presbyterian Church and serving as the first moderator of John Knox Presbytery.
In the early 1970s, Howard began a new journey that would provide enduring love for the rest of his years. The courtship began with a coffee date to discuss the purchase of a new Bible and, in time, led to Howard marrying Nancy Lee Davis Carlson on November 17, 1973. A few years later, in March 1977, they welcomed twin boys, Andy and Matt. Howard approached fatherhood with unsurpassed love and passion. During their 49 years of marriage, the couple traveled often, including many trips to the Holy Land led by Howard.
In 2019, the University of Dubuque honored Howard for his service of nearly 60 years with the naming of the Wallace Common. During the dedication ceremony, University of Dubuque President Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Bullock noted of Howard, “His legacy is as respected as it has been impactful.”
Howard’s life and transition to Heaven is wonderfully expressed in the words he voiced during the dedication ceremony. Speaking on the Book of Revelation, Chapter 21, Verse 5, he said: “He who sat upon the thrown said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ The seed falls or is sown and nurtured by the elements. It in time becomes a new thing, simple in its strength and beauty, enhancing us as plant or flower or tree, or sustaining us by its fruit or fiber. And growth comes in its mystery, curving back upon itself with promise, forgetful of itself in hope. And newness upon kaleidoscopic newness, comes on and on again and again. Comes ever back again to its source. For He who sat upon the thrown said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”
Howard is survived by his wife, Nancy Lee Wallace; five children, Susan Langkamp (Ted), Martha Wallace, Mark Wallace, Andy Wallace (Jenn), and Matt Wallace (Vicki); six grandchildren, Elizabeth Gullick (Dan), Karl Langkamp, Ian Wallace, Oliver Wallace, Rowan Wallace, and Lee Wallace; two great-grandchildren, Eleanor Gullick and Clara Gullick. He was preceded in death by his parents, his son David, and his two brothers, Bob and Arch.
The family will hold a private graveside service at Linwood Cemetery in Dubuque. A celebration of life memorial is being planned for Howard at the University of Dubuque in the spring. Details will be announced at a later date.
The family would like to thank the wonderful staff at Bethany Home and Hospice of Dubuque for their exceptional care.
If you would like to pay tribute to Howard’s legacy, the family requests donations be made to The C. Howard Wallace Endowed Award for Excellence in Old Testament Studies at the University of Dubuque, c/o the Advancement Department, 2000 University Avenue, Dubuque, IA 52001 or online at https://invest.dbq.edu.
To share a memory of Howard or to leave an online condolence, please visit www.egelhofsiegertcasper.com.
Family and friends are coming together online to create a special keepsake. Every memory left on the online obituary will be automatically included in this book.
We encourage you to share your most beloved memories of Rev. Dr. C. here, so that the family and other loved ones can always see it. You can upload cherished photographs, or share your favorite stories, and can even comment on those shared by others.
PLEASE NOTE: The reproduction of any copyrighted images is forbidden without express written permission from the copyright holder. We reserve the right to delete, without warning or notice, any image in violation of any copyright laws.
By subscribing to email updates, you will receive two daily updates containing all new stories, photos, condolences, and more. You will also receive a one-time email, one week prior to the anniversary of death. The email will only serve as a reminder should you choose to connect with the family at what will no doubt be a difficult time.
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