Ron Hafer (’61, M.A. ’75), a jovial and ever-encouraging fixture in the Biola community who served generations of students as the university’s chaplain, passed away due to complications from lung cancer on June 29, 2021. He was 83.
A beloved staff member who devoted 42 years of service to Biola from 1966 to 2008, Hafer was a passionate and unrelenting advocate of all things Biola. More than anything, he was a committed follower of Jesus, sharing the good news with countless others.
“Ron influenced generations of Biola students during his decades-long service to the university,” Biola President Barry H. Corey said. “I recall when he asked to meet with me in the Office of the President to talk — not many months after I began in this role — he wanted me to know that his career at Biola was approaching its conclusion. He shared with me that day, and many times since, about the love he had for this university and the belief that our best days are still to come. Ron lived a life of hope, and everyone he met felt that spirit of hope exuding from him.”
Hafer was among the Biola students who transitioned in the 1950s from the Los Angeles campus on Sixth and Hope streets to the La Mirada campus. While in college, he ran track, pole vaulted, played on the basketball team (despite being 5’ 6”), sang in a touring quartet known as the Biola Heralds, and worked in jobs as a proofreader at two law firms and as a window washer on Los Angeles skyscrapers.
After graduating from Biola with a degree in biblical studies, he started his career as a youth pastor in Colorado, where he met and married Hilda, his wife of 56 years. Eventually, he returned to become an employee of his alma mater, where he worked with alumni, then as director of student ministries and ultimately as chaplain. He was a sought after speaker who loved to preach around the country in churches and youth camps.
Colleagues remembered Hafer as an energetic and effusive encourager with a magnetic personality and an eagerness to tell people about Christ.
“He was my chief encourager,” said Clinton E. Arnold, dean of Biola’s Talbot School of Theology. “I could not pass Ron on campus without him grabbing me and having some kind of encouraging word. He was so encouraging.”
Gary Lindblad, dean of Biola’s Crowell School of Business, who worked for Hafer as director of student ministries after graduating from Biola, remembered Hafer for his leadership and his love for students.
“He taught me lessons in delegating responsibility, he gave me mentorship at a crucial time in my career with sage advice — all things that I know he did for many young people at Biola, at youth camps, at churches and wherever he ministered,” Lindblad said.
A memorial service for Hafer was held at Fullerton Free Church on Aug. 14, 2021, and can be found on YouTube.