Over 50 years ago, Bill and Doris Dudley took over as youth advisors for the Manlius Baptist Youth Fellowship (“BYF”).
Bill’s wife Doris (Dopp), passed away in 2007. After spending many years in Norwich N.Y., working in the bank, and later with his own accounting firm, he remarried, and now has an extended family near Schenectady N.Y. Number three son, Andrew, has taken over his business and Bill can still do taxes from his new home.
About three years ago, I had a conversation with John Huffaker about our high school years. John remembered that the First Baptist Church of Manlius had many people who really cared about our welfare during the adolescent years. Besides our parents, many folks were there for us when it counted. Since many of us loved music and were aware of the “folk-song” revival that followed Rock ‘n Roll, we welcomed any involvement with music both at school and church. Our music staff was largely volunteer, but we had a lot of support. We had no idea what was to happen in the fall of 1960 when the Dudleys took over the senior high BYF. About three years prior, the junior and senior youth fellowships started becoming very active. Our gymnasium was a place to play. We had two coaches— Bob Vermilya, and Ken Bex keeping us under control. Bill Dudley started holding our meetings and for the next four years, we hand a steady nucleus of almost twenty, with many Sunday nights pushing thirty. Us kids loved the format because Bill would get out his guitar and we finished the evening with singing. Bill let us plan special events and a lot of parents hosted, and got involved with Bill’s ministry. Bill let us think that we ran the show—and it worked. He and Doris got us to the state-wide BYF convention, traveled to other joint BYF functions, started fund-raising activities, and some charity work. There was a big camping movement within the church membership, and many pitched in to allow us to go, even though we didn’t have any equipment. My senior class graduated in 1964—but many older and younger students will remember having BYF with the Dudleys.
Recently I’ve talked with Kay Brown Hammond and Jim Ferguson. We all agree how fortunate we were to have had so many people share in helping us grow up. It was a wonderful time, historically speaking, to be alive. Bill Dudley is 78 now, and I believe he would enjoy hearing updates from us on how our lives have played out—since we are in the “golden” years now. So, if you’re willing, when you hear about this contact for the website, you can choose to contact Bill directly—if you prefer privacy—or email us, the site hosts, so that we can post your information for everyone to see. One possibility is that as you approach your 50th high school reunion, you might renew a few more acquaintances and be motivated to attend.
I’ll close this with a story about Bill. I was mowing the lawn one day about 10 years ago in Cazenovia when Betsy waved me in to take a phone call. It was Bill. I can’t tell you how excited he was to tell me that he had just run into someone our age he had first met at a youth convention back in the early 60’s. Truly, he really cared for all of us. Now, maybe we can tell him how much we appreciated the time he gave to us.
As you’re thinking this over, you might put key events on a time line: further education and preparation for career paths, marriage, children and grandkids, where you have lived, worked, and traveled, hobbies, vacation, things you appreciate, any photos of how you look through the years with friends and family, as well as interesting achievements and trivia. Hopefully, some reunions will result along with dialogues. If you get active on this project and your memory tells you of others that aren’t on the contact list: ie. Maybe friends that attended, but were’nt church members—pass it on to them. Once this becomes an active site, I would hope for a steady rise in “hits” for around 90 days, and future maintenance, as Bill savors his legacy. Thank you in advance for participating.