January 18, 2023

Adventist Review Remembers Leaders Who Passed Away in 2022

The list includes May-Ellen Colon, Don Gilbert, Harold Lee, Maurice Bascom, and Bert Haloviak.

Adventist Review Staff 

What follows is biographical information about some of the Seventh-day Adventist leaders we lost in 2022. The list, by no means exhaustive, reflects the information received or collected by Adventist Review as relatives or friends of the deceased forwarded it to our editorial offices. It does not include those leaders who were already included in obituaries throughout 2022. The obituaries appear in chronological order, according to the date of death.—Adventist Review Staff

May Ellen Colon
May-Ellen Colon. [Photo: courtesy of the Colon family]

May-Ellen Colon

May-Ellen Marian Netten was born in Hartford, Connecticut, United States, on June 14, 1949, to Marian Delice Norton Netten and Reginald Wallace Netten. She, her mother, and brother Victor attended the Hartford Seventh-day Adventist church. May-Ellen and Victor attended the Hartford church school for the first eight grades. She went on to graduate from Pioneer Valley Academy in New Braintree, Massachusetts (1968) and Atlantic Union College (AUC) in South Lancaster, Massachusetts (1972). In the fall of 1969, May-Ellen met Gaspar Colón at AUC, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education.

In subsequent years May-Ellen completed her Master of Arts degree in Elementary Curriculum and Instruction with emphasis in reading, taught in various elementary schools, and partnered with Gaspar in various pastoral and administrative roles in ministry. Parenthood then struck with the birth of Ivan Christopher in 1981 and Sara-May Julia in 1984. Motherhood became the center of May-Ellen’s life, and she cherished every opportunity to nurture and mold those two treasures to adulthood.

May-Ellen and Gaspar shared in ministry as a pastoral couple. They ventured with their children into mission service in the Africa-Indian Ocean Division, where she served as director of the Family Ministries Department and later in the Euro-Asia Division, where she also served as founding director of the Family Ministries Department.

Returning to North America, May-Ellen distinguished herself in General Conference leadership roles, such as assistant director of the Sabbath School Personal Ministries Department and director of Adventist Community Services International. Starting in 2015, she was also concurrently appointed by ADRA International as Special Liaison to the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Community Services International and director of Church and Community Engagement. During all of this, May-Ellen managed to complete her PhD in Religious Education from Andrews University, donate a kidney to her husband, and author several books and articles of value to the church.

May-Ellen collapsed on June 11, 2022, from cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation while serving as a volunteer at the General Conference Session in St. Louis, Missouri and passed away on August 3. She is survived by her husband, Gaspar; her son Ivan and his wife Crystal, and their three daughters Ava, Zoe, and London; her daughter Sara-May; her brother, Victor Netten, and his wife Doreen and children Ashley and Jason; Gaspar’s stepmother Fiordalza, stepsisters Julissa and Julia, and stepbrother Luis.

Don Gilbert
Donald Gilbert. [Photo: courtesy of the Gilbert family]

Donald F. Gilbert

Donald Floyd Gilbert died on August 7 in Gentry, Arkansas, United States. He was 91. He was born on October 8, 1930, in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, to Floyd Parker Gilbert and Alice Mildred Sorenson Gilbert. He grew up on the 1,100-acre (445-hectare) family farm and sheep ranch in the Black Hills, where he learned early on the value of hard work and developed a strong work ethic that he retained for the rest of his life. South Dakota was Don’s home until he graduated from high school and enrolled at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1948.

During a time that Don spent at his home (now in Minnesota), he met a girl named Irene Julius. Eventually, Don and Irene fell in love. Irene graduated from Maplewood Academy in the spring of 1951, and six months later, on December 25, Don and Irene were married. Don was 21. Irene was 18.

Don and Irene both took heavy class loads each year, enabling Don to graduate from Union College in 1955 with a degree in business. The couple accepted a call to serve at Sandia View Academy in Sandoval, New Mexico. After seven years of marriage, Don and Irene welcomed Russell into their family in 1959. In 1960, Ozark Academy called, and Don and Irene pulled up stakes and moved to Gentry, Arkansas. Then, in 1961, they moved to Taiwan, where Don served as treasurer of the South China Island Union Mission for the next 13 years. Upon arrival, Don immersed himself in language study and soon became proficient in Mandarin. With this ability, he was often asked to officiate in weddings, of course giving the homily in Mandarin.  A few months later, on June 5, 1962, Kathy was welcomed into the world.

The responsibilities of his work took Don away from home to Hong Kong, Macao, and other far-flung parts of Asia. In 1974, Don was asked to be the assistant treasurer of the Far Eastern Division located in Singapore. He accepted and enjoyed the challenges of the larger field that extended across Asia from Indonesia in the south to Japan in the north.  After a short period of time as assistant treasurer, Don was appointed division treasurer, a position he held until 1981.

Not long after they put in their request to return to the U.S., Don received an invitation to serve as the treasurer of the newly reorganized, but struggling, Iowa-Missouri Conference.  Don accepted, and he and Irene moved to Des Moines, Iowa. In 1984, church leaders asked him to serve as an associate treasurer at the General Conference, the church’s world headquarters. A year later, he was elected to serve as the treasurer of the General Conference, a position he held until he and Irene retired in 1995.

After retiring in 1995, Don and Irene returned to Arkansas. Although officially retired, Don never really retired. In 1995, he and Irene spent six months volunteering at the Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital in Guangzhou, where he enjoyed using his Mandarin language skills once again. Don also served on the board of Adventist Heritage Ministry, spending countless weeks and months working on church heritage sites in the Northeast and Michigan as well as sharing the fascinating history of the Adventist Church with Pathfinders attending  International Pathfinder Camporees in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

According to his son, Don lived his life with purpose and gusto. He shared his faith right up to the end of his life.  He urged everyone who visited him during his final days to “never give up.” It was his dying wish, hope, and prayer that he will meet his family and friends again when he rises from the grave.

Lee Harold
Harold Lee. [Photo: Columbia Union Conference]

Harold L. Lee

Harold L. Lee, president of the Columbia Union Conference from 1998 to 2006, passed to his rest on November 9.  

“We have lost a thoughtful, contemplative leader who gave to our union, during administrative tenure, a positive trajectory in establishing outstanding governance. His legacy continues to make a contribution in providing guidance and governance support for many of our health-care institutions,” Columbia Union president Dave Weigley said.

Born in Wellsburg, West Virginia, Harold’s ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church spanned some 40 years and included time pastoring several congregations, including his first congregation in the Allegheny West Conference in Ohio.  

He also served at the Caribbean Union Conference, North American Division, and Allegheny East Conference in the Stewardship Department; in the Department of Church Ministries at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; and as vice president of development and public relations at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. He also he served as the executive secretary of the Columbia Union from 1992 to 1998. 

A lifelong learner, Harold earned a doctor of ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago; a bachelor’s from Oakwood, a master’s degree from Andrews University in Michigan, and a certificate in educational and financial management from Harvard University. He also served as an adjunct professor at Andrews University, Oakwood, and Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland.

After retiring from the union in 2006, Harold later served as the director of the Bradford-Cleveland-Brooks Leadership Center on the campus of Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama.

Bascom Maurice
Maurice Bascom. [Photo: courtesy of the Bascom family]

Maurice Bascom

Maurice “Mauri” Tabor Bascom, husband of Dorothy Marie Bascom, died October 14 at Medstar Montgomery Medical Center in Olney, Maryland, United States.

He was born October 17, 1933, in Guthrie Center, Iowa, to Hugh Bascom and Gracie Strows. 

After graduating from college, Maurice served as dean at Lodi Academy, then was pastor at Willits and Meadow Vista, California, churches. In 1962, he and Dorothy were called to serve in Japan, and he started an English language school in Osaka. In 1971 they moved to Seoul, South Korea, to lead the Seoul English Language School. He expanded the program by starting programs in Busan and Kwang-ju. In 1976 he was called to Singapore to serve as the Lay Activities Director for the Far Eastern Division of Seventh-day Adventists. In this role he traveled throughout Asia, conducting lay training and personal ministries workshops. Later, he was called to serve at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Maryland, in the Church Ministries Department, and later, he established language schools in China and other countries.

Maurice enjoyed meeting new people and telling them about Jesus. He loved to travel and treasured family. His consistent admonition to his children and grandchildren was, “Always be faithful to Jesus.” He exemplified this in his own life.

He is survived by one sister, Gwendolyn Glaser. He was predeceased by siblings Marjorie Copsey and Benjamin Bascom. He is also survived by two daughters, Connie Maurine Wahlen, and son-in-law Ray Wahlen; Cynthia Jewell Gramkow, and son-in-law Xavier Gramkow; and five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A graveside service and interment were held on October 19 at the Linthicum Chapel Cemetery in Clarksville, Maryland, with Sam Nunez officiating.

Haloviak Bert
Bert Haloviak. [Photo: General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists]

Bert Haloviak

Bert Haloviak, former director of the General Conference (GC) Office of Archives and Statistics (now known as Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, or ASTR), passed to his rest on October 18. He was 84. 

Haloviak was an Adventist scholar and passionate historian. During his 35 years of service in this ministry, he became known for his contributions to the development of ASTR. Current ASTR director David Trim said that Haloviak and Don Yost, the first director of Archives and Statistics, set up all the systems and processes that are still the foundation of the work in the church’s Archives office today.

Haloviak began working at the GC as a research assistant in 1975. In 1998 he became ASTR director. In that role, Haloviak made many contributions to the organization of historical records. As a “digital pioneer … he was responsible for taking the Office of Archives and Statistics online, creating four websites: Adventist ArchivesAdventist YearbookAdventist Directory, and Adventist Statistics,” Trim said. Through these websites, ASTR is able to provide the world church with virtual access to thousands of documents, records, and archives.

Developing the content for the sites was no easy feat and required patience, perseverance, and dedication. “Haloviak created an online archive of 1.5 million pages of digitized historic Adventist content,” Trim said. Taking Adventist documents and records online was a major achievement of Haloviak’s. Today, scholars, researchers, and others are able to look up database content by word or phrase.

“This has been hugely beneficial to Adventist scholars and family tree researchers around the world,” Trim said. “This database will continue to have a lasting impact as anyone researches the Adventist past.” 

Haloviak leaves behind his wife, Mary Bidwell, and two children, Kendra Haloviak Valentine and Brent Haloviak.

V. Michelle Bernard,  Angelica Sanchez, and relatives of the deceased contributed to this report.