Scholarship Donors: Clarence'46 and Fayetta (DeBord) Sekerak '47
The lifelong love story of Clarence '46 and Fayetta (DeBord) Sekerak '47 began with their first date: a mile-plus walk from Cleveland Bible College to Chen's Chinese restaurant.
The pair worked their way through college - Clarence made 40 cents an hour as an assistant to "Daddy" Francis Rice, the caretaker of the CBC property. A diligent employee, he helped the school move from Cedar Avenue to the Euclid Avenue mansion – which had once been the Spenserian Business College – and found many chores to do in the mansion: painting latticework on a ladder on the roof, turning dormitories into residence halls, unloading produce from then-President Worthy Spring's father's farm, making repairs. Fayetta, one of nine children, began her college career as a "Day Girl" which meant that instead of living in the residence halls, she did chores for a wealthy family in exchange for room and board; her second year, she moved onto campus and worked for Halle Brothers Department Store wrapping packages and worked at a sweater factory. Her sisters Marcella and Gladys Ream x43 also attended CBC.
Though his college years were during World War II, Clarence had a 4-D classification as a divinity student, which allowed him to continue his education.
Clarence and Fayetta were active in many organizations such as the Gleaners and the missionary league. In their senior yearbook, Clarence is described as "superior in size, intellect, and spirituality... a valuable student and real soul winner;" Fayetta as, "modest, sweet, and agreeable."
"Most of our closest friends for the past 70 years have been people we first met as classmates at Cleveland Bible College," says Fayetta. "We have learned, laughed, loved, and shared our faith in Christ with this warm and wonderful community."
In those days, student life – especially for residents – included housekeeping duties, such as dusting, as well as what the students called "KP" or kitchen patrol. In his sophomore yearbook, Clarence is pictured next to President Spring, pouring buckets of potatoes into a potato-peeling machine.
"Each class presented the college with a gift every year," Clarence explains. "Ours was a potato peeler so we wouldn't have to peel by hand anymore."
The couple married after Fayetta's graduation – they'll celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary in August. They have five children – daughters Lois and twins Nancy and Becky. Their sons, Richard and Michael '77, attended Malone in Canton. Fayetta returned to Malone to earn a teaching degree the same year Lois graduated from high school and graduated in 1965 (pictured in her yearbook at right) after which she taught third grade at West Branch Elementary for 20 years.
Clarence began his career as a minister, first at a Friends church in Boston Heights for a year; then Hughesville, Penn. From 1947-1953, where Fayetta remembers, "his first sermon was only 10 minutes long. He just ran out of things to say! I think he was nervous."
The nerves quickly subsided: in 1953 Clarence was called to preach at Alliance Friends Church, and he also started the popular local morning radio program, "Sunrise Scriptures."
The hardworking family lived frugally, as Fayetta had a special knack for growing vegetable gardens to can and freeze their food to stretch dollars as far as possible. As a pastor's wife, says her daughter, Lois, Fayetta was always ready to entertain guests in their neatly kept home.
Clarence's final full-time pastoral assignment was at East Goshen Friends. During those times, he researched Quaker history and created beautiful publications for the Ohio Yearly Meetings and other events. After seeing the publications and knowing Clarence's love for Malone in the early 1960's, President Dr. Everett Cattell asked him to be the public relations director for the College, which at the time included a seat on the president's cabinet.
Clarence had numerous duties, including fundraising and estate planning, collaborating with the late Ed Jeffries '58, then-director of admissions. At such a small college duties were varied and everyone "kind of did everything," he says. While learning more about financial investments, several Malone graduates from Michigan, including the late Norman Huff '53 encouraged Ed and Clarence to get involved with his company, First Investors Corporation, based in New York City.
The men rounded up about 40 newcomers, including insurance agents in Canton, to take licensure tests to be able to sell mutual funds. All of them passed, and Clarence left his role at Malone: first to work for First Investors, then to start his own business, Portage Brokerage Company, after passing the registered principal's exam.
Clarence worked until 10 years ago - when he celebrated his 80th birthday – and, last year, moved to Copeland Oaks Retirement Community; Fayetta is a patient in the adjoining Crandall Medical Center.
Because of all that Malone has meant to Clarence and Fayetta, the couple set up a scholarship for Malone students who are active attendees and/or members of one of the six churches where the Sekeraks either pastored or attended:
- Barberton Evangelical Friends Church
- Boston Heights Evangelical Friends Church
- Hughesville Evangelical Friends Church (Pennsylvania)
- Alliance Evangelical Friends Church
- East Goshen Evangelical Friends Church
- Damascus Evangelical Friends Church
Students may pursue any field of study to be considered.
For more details, please contact the Financial Aid Office at Malone University at 800.521.1146.
To contribute to this scholarship in honor of Clarence and Fayetta, please contact the Advancement office at 330.471.8235.
"In my studies of Ohio Quaker history, I've appreciated the real life stories of Quaker men and women whose lives are witness to their faith," says Clarence. "Perhaps some of the young people who benefit from this scholarship will one day be studied by Quaker historians of the future."