TURLOCK, CA (October 2, 2013) – Lloyd Ahlem, a psychologist who became the first lay president of North Park College and Theological Seminary and the administrator of Covenant Village of Turlock, died Sunday morning following an extended illness.
Services are pending.
Ahlem served as North Park president from 1970 to 1979. He previously served on the school’s board from 1966 to 1970.
He subsequently led Covenant Village of Turlock from 1979 until his retirement in 1989. He also was a founding member of Cornerstone Covenant Church in Turlock. David Dwight, the current director of the Covenant’s Ministries of Benevolence noted that Ahlem played a key role in expanding the ministry.
“Lloyd was one of the giant figures instrumental in shaping our identity and mission,” Covenant President Gary Walter said. “He grounded his intellect in reality; his leadership in the good of those he served; and his heart in tenderness to the work of God in his life.”
Ahlem was born November 7, 1929 in Moose Lake, Minnesota. He married Anne Jensen on December 29, 1952.
Ahlem graduated North Park College with an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree from San Jose State in 1952 and earned his master’s degree in 1955. He earned his Doctor of Education degree from the University of Southern California in 1962.
A psychologist, Ahlem served as an administrator and professor at California State University in Stanislaus from 1962 until taking the position at North Park. While at California State, he served as chair of the Psychology Department and the Division of Social Science. He also founded the school’s basketball and golf teams.
During his tenure at North Park, the demographics of the student body at North Park changed, according to a history published about the school. Men comprised about 53 percent of the students. By 1979, 57 percent were women, which reflected a national trend.
Seminary enrollment increased after the school began awarding Master of Divinity degrees to women in 1974 – two years before the Covenant’s Annual Meeting voted to ordain women, according to the history. Prior to 1974, women did not pursue a degree at the seminary. By the fall of 1981, 11 percent of the students at the seminary were women.
During the 1960s, North Park transitioned to a four-year college, a change that contributed to a $706,000 operating deficit and a long-term debt of $5.3 million, according to the history. By the end of Ahlem’s tenure, the school was operating on a balanced budget, had eliminated the operating deficit, and reduced the long-term debt to $2.1 million.
“Dr. Ahlem’s leadership was critical for establishing a firm base for the four-year undergraduate curriculum and setting the context for the decision in 1979-1980 to keep the school in its historic urban location,” said David Parkyn, the school’s current president.
Ahlem authored five books and seven additional books that were privately published. Books included Living with Stress and Do I Have to be Me?: The Psychology of Human Need. His best-known work among Covenanters was Living and Growing in Later Years, which focused on life after retirement.
He also spoke around the country on the topic of aging. He would tell elder audiences, “One of the most important contributions you can make at this point is, in the grace of God, adjust with a positive attitude. Aging is transition, not termination.”
Ahlem had a love for athletics. An article in the 2005 winter edition of the Pietisten refers to the “skinny 17 year old kid named Lloyd Ahlem (who) came out as a punter” in 1947.
Ahlem served on numerous boards, including the North Park board from 1966 to 1970, and County Bank, Capital Corp of the West from 1995 to 2002. He served as chair for three of the years and was granted the title of director emeritus when he retired.
In addition to his wife, Ahlem is survived by two sons, three daughters, 15 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.