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Remembering Rosie

Taylor celebrates the life of Grace Roselyn Kerlin, visionary and friend

By Emily Rachelle Russell | Contributor

Grace Roselyn Kerlin (Middle) with Marylou and Eugene Habecker at the Kerlin Award ceremony in 2016.

Grace Roselyn Kerlin (Middle) with Marylou and Eugene Habecker at the Kerlin Award ceremony in 2016.

This week, Taylor University remembers the life of former Chairwoman of Board of Trustees Grace Roselyn Kerlin (’55), or “Rosie,” who died Friday, April 21, after a battle with leukemia.

Kerlin, the first female chair of the board of trustees, gave her heart to Taylor as a student, an alumna and a board member. Former Taylor University President Jay Kesler (’57) remembered their time as students together fondly. “She and (her husband) Joe were really the embodiment of Taylor,” Kesler said. “(They were) two of the most prominent student leaders on campus by example . . . the kind of people we wanted to be.”

Jim Garringer, director of media relations, remembered Kerlin as a strong leader who encouraged others. “She was a smart, thoughtful, winsome leader who had a vision for Taylor University,” Garringer said. “She loved Jesus, and she loved people.”

Avis Industrial Corporation Vice President Marty Songer grew up knowing Kerlin and her husband as faithful Taylor supporters. Songer served as Director of Alumni Relations at Taylor University for 21 years. She said Kerlin always planned the Class of 1955 reunions. “Once Rosie knew you, and you became a friend of hers, you were a lifelong friend,” Songer said. “She just had a way of making everyone feel important.”

As a fellow board member, Songer admired Kerlin’s ground-breaking work for women at Taylor. “(LaRita Boren) and Rosie Kerlin were best friends,” Songer said. “They got to know each other through their service on the board . . . They paved the way . . . Somebody had to be first.”

“She had a shepherd’s heart for Taylor . . . (and) stuck with Taylor through thick and thin.” — Jay Kesler about Grace Roselyn Kerlin, former Taylor chairwoman of board of trustees, who passed away last Friday. (Provided by Jim Garringer)

“She had a shepherd’s heart for Taylor . . . (and) stuck with Taylor through thick and thin.” — Jay Kesler about Grace Roselyn Kerlin, former Taylor chairwoman of board of trustees, who passed away last Friday. (Provided by Jim Garringer)

Kerlin’s time on the board overlapped with Kesler’s term as president. Kesler remembered her as a strong ally who wanted to make Taylor University as life-changing for current students as it was for them. “She had a shepherd’s heart for Taylor . . . (and) stuck with Taylor through thick and thin,” Kesler said.

The G. Roselyn Kerlin Women in Leadership Award, which honors Taylor alumni’s godly leadership and commitment to the Lord, was named after Kerlin. Recipients of the award include LaRita Boren and Marylou Habecker.

Songer remembered Kerlin’s strength and commitment as a prayer warrior. At the funeral, Kerlin’s son-in-law Brad Tobin held up a prayer journal, said Songer. It was one of 263 journals Kerlin kept throughout her life. “When she said ‘I’m praying for you,’ I knew that she was,” said Songer.

Recalling Kerlin’s experience with leukemia, Garringer said, “She battled it just as bravely as she lived her life. . . . We do not grieve without hope, but we do grieve.”

Kerlin’s funeral was held at West Bridge Church in Danville, Indiana, where Taylor students and alumni of all ages attended. She was interred at Sunset Memorial Cemetery in Evansville, Indiana.

“I definitely am a better person for having known her,” Songer said.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Taylor University, Kingdom Building Ministries and West Bridge Church.

 

 

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