For Ralph and Pearl, it was love at first sight. He had just returned home to Washington, DC in 1946 after having served four years in the U. S. Army. Pearl, who was born and reared in St. Paul, Minnesota, had recently relocated to Washington, DC to join her parents and her brother who had moved there. She had earned her B. A. degree in music from Hamline University and her Master of Nursing degree from Case Western Reserve University. They met at a Methodist Sunday School teachers conference where Pearl had been asked to fill in as substitute organist. Ralph's sister encouraged him to attend the conference with the admonition to "find a nice Methodist girl to marry." Ralph returned home a week later to declare, "I've found her!" They were married six months later at Congress Heights Methodist Church, and later reared three children to adulthood.
The attraction between Ralph and Pearl was immediate because they had so much in common. Both grew up in the Methodist Church---she at Hamline Methodist Church and he at Rhode Island Avenue Methodist Protestant Church. Music played a large part in their lives. Pearl was a piano virtuoso. Her parents discovered her affinity for music at a very early age and bought her a piano so that she could develop her gift. As a young man, Ralph sang with the Washington Choral Society and a light opera company. In later years, Ralph would often say that he knew Pearl was "the one" because God knew that he would never make anything of his life without Pearl at his side supporting and encouraging him.
The GI Bill enabled Ralph to enroll in college at Hamline University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy. Later, he enrolled at Drew Theological Seminary and earned his Master of Divinity degree. He was ordained in the Minnesota Annual Conference and enjoyed a long, fulfilling, and illustrious career in the ministry. Pearl continued her nursing and music careers, and taught piano lessons until the age of 91.
Pearl died in April 2011 at the age of 94, and Ralph died in March 2015, approximately 45 days after reaching his 100th birthday. In reflecting upon her parents' lives and legacies, their daughter Jan Warren said, "Family, music, and travel were the great joys of mom's life. Dad shared those same loves, but it was serving others that brought him the greatest joy."
Ralph and Pearl included Africa University in their estate plans because of their passion for Africa and for higher education. At Ralph's death, an endowed scholarship was established in their memory to educate the young men and women of Africa for generations to come. What a wonderful legacy to leave!
Elaine Jenkins, Director of Planned Giving, Africa University Development Office
A World Service Special Gift is a designated financial contribution made by an individual, local church, organization, district or annual conference to a project authorized as such by the Connectional Table. Current World Service Special Gifts projects include the Africa University Endowment Fund, the Leonard Perryman Communications Scholarship for Ethnic Minority Students, the Methodist Global Education Fund, the National Anti-Gambling Project and the Lay Missionary Planting Network.