After six decades, couple still sees Bethel as a special place

Studying social work at Bethel, Joyce DeHaan ’67 had formative experiences that stuck with her throughout a career serving others. Today, she and her husband remain faithful Bethel supporters.

By Jason Schoonover ’09, senior web content specialist

April 02, 2024 | 11 a.m.

Joyce’67 and Ed DeHaan

Joyce DeHaan’s formative experiences at Bethel stuck with her through a career serving others. Joyce’67 and Ed DeHaan remain faithful Bethel supporters because they see a “special place” where students blend faith and academics

A few years ago, Joyce DeHaan ’67 returned to Bethel University with her family for Festival of Christmas. After an opening processional of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” built as more and more musicians joined in Benson Great Hall, Joyce’s youngest grandchild, Julia, 13, leaned over and said, “I am so going to Bethel!” 

If any of Joyce and Ed DeHaan’s three grandchildren—Julia, Charlie, 15, and Grace, 17—attend Bethel, it will make for three generations of DeHaans at Bethel. And while Joyce and Ed are hopeful it will happen, they’re not pushing. But Bethel has been an important part of their family for 60 years, and the DeHaans remain faithful supporters of the university.

Joyce’s time at Bethel began with a cross-country train journey from her home in Montana to the Twin Cities after a family emergency kept her parents from driving her. She grew up in a working-class town in Montana where few people had college degrees, but her parents loved the Lord and attended a Converge church—then the Baptist General Conference. Their church eventually introduced Joyce and her family to Bethel and the possibilities of a Christ-centered education. After her brother, Monty Ray Okken ’65, S’69, attended Bethel, a family pastor was instrumental in Joyce attending, helping her receive a significant Converge scholarship.

But Joyce admits her time at Bethel got off to a challenging start. After taking the train, a professor drove her from the station to her dorm. She felt overwhelmed by the new environment at first. But she soon made many close friends and settled into the community. Today, she still attends every reunion for the class of 1967, and she frequently meets with a group of friends and roommates. “Those relationships are really important,” she says.

While studying social work and sociology, Joyce found formative experience through her studies and her professors. She recalls how reading Inasmuch by David Moberg, who was chair of the sociology department, changed her life. “That little book really impacted me, and I learned to be concerned about people who were less fortunate by myself,” Joyce says. After Bethel, Joyce started her career in welfare services for Ramsey County. She supported the family while Ed completed medical school. Once he became a physician and they started to have children, Joyce focused on the family and worked part-time as a social work consultant in nursing homes and in a facility for adults with disabilities. Once their children were older, she spent 14 years directing an outreach center for women who experienced abuse near Fort Dodge, Iowa, before Joyce and Ed retired in 2008.

The DeHaans remained close to Bethel through the years. When they attended a small Converge church in Fort Dodge, Iowa, former Bethel President Carl Lundquist came to speak at their church. The Lundquists ended up staying with the DeHaans, leading Joyce to scour their small house. By the morning the Lundquists arrived, their youngest son told Joyce, “You’d think Jesus was coming to our house.” Their boys attended summer camp at Pine Lake Christian Center, where many Bethel students worked. By the 1990s, their sons, Shane ’93 and Luke ’97, also attended Bethel, with Shane studying communication and theatre arts and Luke studying biology. Ed values how his sons, like Joyce, got to make strong friendships and connections at Bethel.

"There are lots of Christian colleges, but Bethel has, I think, a special place in being open to the intellectual and to science and melding our faith and academics."

— Joyce DeHaan ’67

Make a difference as a social worker

Decades ago Joyce DeHaan ’67 had a transformative experience while studying social work and sociology at Bethel. Bethel's social work programs continue growing and evolving. In undergraduate and graduate programs, you’ll become empowered to work toward justice and systemic change while aiding the health and well-being of others.


Over the years, the DeHaans have remained faithful Bethel supporters because they believe in the Christ-centered education the university provides to students. “There are lots of Christian colleges, but Bethel has, I think, a special place in being open to the intellectual and to science and melding our faith and academics,” Joyce says. Another special thing about Bethel is BUILD, a comprehensive two-year program for people with intellectual disabilities. In 2017, the DeHaans formed the Mayme Okken Scholarship Fund in honor of Joyce’s sister, who had Down syndrome. For Joyce, it’s important to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to have a college experience—opportunities her sister didn’t have.

The DeHaans have supported Bethel in many other ways, including capital projects and the Bethel Fund. In retirement, the DeHaans’ have preferred to support causes they believe in by directly giving gifts of stocks. Most of their retirement is in stocks and bonds, and instead of taking out money to give to Bethel or their church, Mill City Church, it’s advantageous to transfer the stock. The DeHaans’ tax advisor highly recommended they give this way. It helps them meet their required minimum distribution (RMD)—the minimum a retired person or couple must withdraw from their account each year.

The DeHaans encouraged anyone interested in giving this way to discuss it with their financial advisor or certified public accountant. “I think it benefits Bethel if you care about Bethel and the work that they do, which we do,” Joyce says. “And if you want to save on your taxes, it’s a win-win. It really is.” 

Decades after she first came across the country to Bethel on a train, Joyce still believes in Bethel. “It was a good place for both of our sons and it was a good place for me and we all still really value the place,” she says.

Leave a legacy at Bethel.

There are so many ways you can leave a legacy that will impact Bethel students for years to come. If you’re interested in learning more about donating stock to Bethel or other creative giving options, contact Bethel University’s advancement team at 651.635.8053 or click the button below.

Learn more