For as long as I can remember, I’ve had four passions: ministry, agriculture, business and American patriotism.
However, once I graduated from Seattle Pacific University, I hopped over to Scotland (on a scholarship, thank goodness!) to complete my graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. This was in 1963 and I loved their divinity school which the University of Edinburgh calls ‘New College’. In addition to the academics and church, I fell in love with the Scottish people, their proud culture and their distinctive lands. A few years ago, I returned to pay tribute and was interviewed by the university newspaper:
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO COME STUDY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH?
Bob: “I was going to be in the ministry, it had been my ambition since I was 11 years old. Our pastor was evangelistic. He encouraged us to go into the ministry of missionary work and six of us did, out of a congregation of 160.
Reputation and economics brought me to the University of Edinburgh. I valued the quality of New College as it was represented around the world. It was first introduced to me by a student I knew who had been here and later by a professor I became acquainted with while I was an undergraduate.
The economics of coming to the University of Edinburgh made sense. I grew up on a farm and it was more reasonable to come here than attend an American university. I didn’t want to work while I was a student, and I knew I could do that here. Coming here helped me to achieve my master’s degree from Seattle Pacific University as well.”
HOW DID A TRAINEE MINISTER END UP IN THE INTERNATIONAL FRANCHISE ASSOCIATION HALL OF FAME?
Bob: “I tried the ministry but there was a ‘great awakening’ at the end of every sermon I gave at our home church – I knew that it was not my calling!
I was looking for a job and a Christian gentleman in the personnel business spoke at my church. This led me to a job at ACME Personnel, where I worked for 17 formative years. In the staffing industry, I found a ministry of helping people find jobs.
In the beginning, I used to counsel applicants who were discouraged. Often times my boss would interrupt my ministry of job counseling to say, ‘I appreciate you for trying to help people, but we do need to make a profit!”
In 1983, I went on to co-found Express Employment Professionals. We are blessed our multi-billion dollar operation has been able to employ millions of people around the globe. I agree with President Ronald Reagan who said that ‘the best social program is a job,’ because it helps with social and financial problems. We are enabling people to find employment which then helps them both mentally and spiritually.”
WHAT ARE YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES OF YOUR TIME HERE AS A STUDENT?
Bob: “The entire experience was extremely valuable. The experience of going overseas to a different environment, a different climate is unforgettable. Experiencing the depth of history here was a real surprise. In the USA, 200 years is old. The ancient architecture of Edinburgh blew me away!
I’d been raised an evangelical, but New College was more intellectually inspiring. The analysis of scripture and the New Testament in particular seemed much deeper. The Gospel for me is very simple. It isn’t an intellectual exercise, it’s faith.