Rev. Dr. Dwayne Allen Suter passed away surrounded by his family on Saturday, September 5, 2015.
A child of the Great Depression, Dwayne was born July 15, 1932, in Carnegie, OK to Russell and Flora Suter. The youngest of three children, he grew up on a farm near Eakly, OK at the height of the Dust Bowl, where he helped farm cotton and maize, and raise cattle. Money was scarce but love and laughter were in abundance, as was the family’s deep and abiding faith in the Lord. One night, a man came to the back door begging for food. Dwayne’s father invited him in and pulled his own chair from the table and asked the man to have a seat and eat his fill. Flora, worried about her three small children, objected. Russell replied, “God provided for us yesterday. He will provide for us tomorrow. Today, he provided for this man.”
God did provide. He provided him a lifetime of faith and service to others. Dwayne started this path in a one room school house and graduated valedictorian of his high school class at Eakly, OK. He obtained BS, MS and PhD degrees in Agriculture Engineering at Oklahoma State University in 1955, 1956, and 1972, respectively. He was President of the Wesley Foundation while at OSU, and was very active in other campus organizations.
While attending OSU, he met Carol Bolton Suter at the Wesley Foundation. Dwayne was so taken with her that he offered her a ride before he remembered he didn’t have a car. Fortunately, she had already made prior plans but she did accept his proposal several years later. They were married on September 16, 1956 after he was able to convince her to travel half way around the world to spread God’s message. Shortly after their honeymoon, he and Carol studied at Garrett Theological Seminary at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL and later at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. Fulfilling his dream of becoming a missionary, they traveled to the Philippines, where they served as technical missionaries for 12 years in San Mateo, Isabela. While there, he was ordained a Methodist minister. Dwayne helped local farmers by improving irrigation systems and introducing mechanized agriculture with machines that he designed and helped produce. He taught farmers how to produce their own tools to mechanize farming operations. While serving on President Ferdinand Marcos’ National Rice Council, he worked with others to introduce the IR8 variety of rice for improved yield. He also designed and taught others how to build rice drying machines of various sizes to help farmers dry their rice, which was harvested during the rainy season. Dwayne also helped build churches, the hospital where his youngest daughter was born, and school buildings in the Cagayan Valley. As an ordained minister, he preached in local churches in the Ilocano dialect. One of his most vivid memories of his days as a missionary was the night he baptized 27 former communists at midnight. After their baptism, those men went back home to their families. The other men, those who chose not to join their comrades, were all killed in a battle at dawn that morning.
Dwayne and his family returned from the Philippines in 1969 to complete his PhD. He went on to serve as Associate Dean of Agriculture at Texas A&M University for 29 years, counseling several thousands of students, sometimes up to 30 students a day. He also participated in developing an international distance education program consortium, which at his retirement had resulted in faculty delivering over 40,000 courses to distant sites. At the request of Congressman Greg Laughlin, he provided major leadership in the establishment and development of the Agriculture & Natural Resources Policy Internship Program. Through this program, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, over 900 students have had the opportunity to expand their horizons and hone their leadership skills through internship opportunities that now include over 50 host offices on the state, national and international level. He also found time to serve on the Board of Methodist Hospital. In addition, he travelled to Saudi Arabia to advise and consult in the establishment of an agricultural experiment farm, undergraduate and graduate curriculum and strategic planning for a plant research facility.
He is preceded in death by his parents and his older brother Jack Suter.Survivors include his wife of almost 59 years, Carol Bolton Suter; daughters Deborah Hildebrand and son-in law David Hildebrand of Caldwell, TX, Linda Papadopoulos and son-in law John Papadopoulos of Forest, VA, and Sue James and son-in law Jim James of College Station, TX; grandchildren Mary Nowak of Washington, DC, Clayton Hildebrand of Caldwell, TX, Kathy Papadopoulos Quigley of Omaha, NE, Nicole Papadopoulos of Virginia Beach, VA, and Buck James of College Station; sister Joycle King of Binger, OK; several great grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life memorial service is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, September 26, 2015 at A&M United Methodist Church with Rev. John Reasons officiating. There will be a private inurnment at the Memorial Cemetery of College Station. Cremation and memorial services are in the care of Callaway-Jones Funeral Home and Crematory.
For those desiring, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the A&M United Methodist Church in College Station or Hospice Brazos Valley.
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