Pastor’s Ponderings

So Who Are Reba and Gary

Now that we have been at Claybanks United Methodist Church for a couple of months and you are getting to know us we would like to share some of our background with you. Yes, we have moved 15 times and yes we still have an awful lot of stuff.

Gary’s background:
Born in Ludington Michigan. Parents Fred and Margaret were raised in Ludington and Pentwater area. After college at MSU the Peterson family which included two small boys, located to Grand Rapids where my father worked for American Seating Company for his entire working career. For the most part the Peterson family lived on the west side of Grand Rapids and soon grew to include three sisters. Gary was the oldest of the five children followed by his brother Steve, sisters Mary, Julie and Lori.

During the summer the family would spend the first two weeks of July on the Peterson farm south of Ludington just off what is now the old 31 highway. Many summers Gary and Steve would be left with their grandparents, uncle and aunt and three cousins to be a part of the fruit picking summer fun. The summers for Gary and Steve would be interrupted for a couple of weeks to attend the YMCA Camp Manitou-lin which they would later work at while in high school and early college. Gary would meet Reba while attending Union high School.

Reba’s background:
Reba was born close to Jonesboro Arkansas to Bill and Dellia Baker who were sharecroppers during her very young childhood years. She was the youngest of five children having three older brothers Junior, Jim and Willard and one sister Nina just a couple years older. The Baker family would move to Grand Rapids Michigan just as Reba was entering first grade. Bill would work for Keeler Brass and Dellia for Baker Furniture. They would settle in a different area on the west side of Grand Rapids from the Peterson family. Reba would spend much of her time growing up roller skating and ice-skating and one year was selected as Miss Pulaski Park. During her senior year in high she would date Gary for the first time.

The Petersons
Our spiritual and religious backgrounds come from some very different perspectives. Gary was raised Roman Catholic. Reba was raised in the Baptist and Church of God traditions. These different backgrounds did present some issues when it came time for Reba and Gary to be married during the college years. For the first 10 years of marriage and raising a family the Peterson’s attended the Roman Catholic Church. During those years Gary was being wooed by the Holy Spirit and the family chose to become Methodists while living in Traverse City. More on this transformation we will share with you during some of our message time on Sundays in the months ahead.

While living in Grand Rapids our son Branden was born. The family moved to Indianapolis as Gary pursued a YMCA career and it was during our stay in Indianapolis that Michelle was born. Yes, we did move often as Gary continued to work for the YMCA in a number of different positions taking the family from Indianapolis to Grand Rapids to Traverse City and back to Grand Rapids where his career changed and he began working for Valvoline Oil Company. During all those years Reba continued to be a hair stylist and mother taking on a strong leadership role as our family grew and matured.

Reba from her young teenage years believed that someday she would marry a minister. Even when Gary changed careers a number of times she still believed that she would someday be a pastor’s wife.

To be continued at a future date. Stay Tuned.


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