The Bawdens– Army Through and Through
by Frances Dingman –
That’s a lotta years! If served end to end, the Bawden family has racked up 400 years in service to The Salvation Army.
Eva Mitchell was the oldest of seven girls born to Salvation Army officers. Entering the Training College at age 17, she later married session mate John Bawden. This year marks the 65th anniversary of their commissioning in the Do or Dare Session. Their son, Major Ron Bawden, has been asked to carry their session flag. The senior Bawdens gave a total of 43 years service, all as corps officers, before their retirement in 1977.
Anne Pickup, in her book, Broken Alabaster Jars, says, “Since their five children became officers, it is often assumed that there were pressures put upon the children to follow in their parents’ footsteps. They testify to a house filled with love, where everyone felt important and necessary, and each was allowed to be an individual…Each child’s decision to become an officer surprised Eva…Lessons in stewardship taught them that everyone should be and do exactly what God intended. Joy would come in following God’s will.”
Their daughter, Major Marilyn Gregory, and her husband, Bob, will receive their 40-year service pins. Major George Bawden and Majors Ron and Marilyn Bawden will all receive their 35 year Long Service. The youngest, Major Jan Williams, and her husband, Major Doug Williams, will receive their 25 year L.S. pins. This is an “off” year for their other sister, Major Linda Griffin, who with her husband, Major Terry Griffin, celebrates 29 years of service.
In addition to the years of the second generation, Captain Cherilee (Gregory) Ramsey will celebrate 15 years of service. The daughters of Majors Ron and Marilyn Bawden, Lieutenants Noelle Nelson and Ronalee Fenrich, will mark five and four years of service respectively. Counting the years of their spouses, Captain Scott Ramsey (15 years), and Lieutenants Mark Nelson and Ron Fenrich (five and four years respectively) plus Major Jeri Bawden (more than the 35 years of her husband) it comes to 400 years.
“Our parents,” says Major Marilyn Gregory, “never tried to talk us into becoming officers. Rather, they emphasized that if we were not truly called we should not become officers. Each in our own way felt God’s call on our lives, and we are thankful that he has used us in this way.”