Category Archives: PUC History

Alumni Profile: Brenda Mohr, Serving Through Music

Brenda Mohr graduated with Music Education in 1985, and was the first organ student to present her senior recital on the mighty Rieger Organ. She loved PUC because of the beautiful location, spiritual environment, caring professors, and the wonderful people who became lifelong friends. She is now the Director of Choirs at Loma Linda University Church and loves serving through music ministry. We are grateful for the time Brenda gave us to share about her time at PUC and working at LLUC. 

You were the first organ student to present your senior recital on the mighty Rieger Organ. What was that like for you? 

I felt very proud! It was such a thrill to play the mighty Rieger! I’m grateful to my organ teacher, Dr. Del Case, for all the opportunities he gave me to play the organ for church services, accompaniment for choir and brass and my junior and senior recitals. 

What did you enjoy the most about your time at PUC?

Weekly trips to Giugni’s in St. Helena, dorm life, and time spent with friends attending Friday night vespers; and Sabbath morning worship services.

Tell us about being the Director of Choirs at Loma Linda University Church. What do you enjoy most about what you do? 

Being the Director of Choirs at the Loma Linda University Church is an honor. I love serving God’s people through music ministry in a nurturing and thriving work environment. I get to collaborate with a lot of extremely talented musicians who have a heart for worship. The LLUC Music Department staff are a joy to work with. Each person on our team are professional musicians; who strive for musical excellence week after week. I am truly blessed to be a part of the LLUC Staff.

How did your time at PUC help prepare you for your career? 

My student teaching experience at Napa High School was the most pivotal experience in my undergrad studies at PUC that helped prepare me for a career in teaching music.

What are your hobbies? 

I enjoy spending time with family and friends. Also camping, hiking, biking and travel adventures. 

What advice can you share with our students? 

Keep Jesus as your constant companion. He delights to do more for you than you can ask or imagine. 

PUC Coloring Page Partie Deux

It’s time for another edition of coloring with PUC!

Download this coloring page and color away. feel free to send us photos of the final product!


Pioneers Coloring Sheet 2

Fun in our Forest 

The PUC Demonstration and Experimental Forest is protected by a conservation easement in partnership with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) and the Land Trust of Napa County. As such, it will always remain forested and provide learning opportunities for PUC students as well as 35 miles of recreational trails—for mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding—for students, college employees, and community members. The rich biodiversity of the PUC forest makes it especially valuable to conservationists and researchers. 

Our forest truly sets PUC apart and makes Angwin a unique and special place to live, learn, and grow. We encourage everyone on our campus to get out and explore our incredible forestlands. 

Keep an eye out for some these #ForestFinds:

Diogenes Lantern

Chosen as the school flower in 1924, the Diogenes Lantern is a special flower that requires the perfect weather, soil, and water combination to grow. PUC’s forest just happens to be an environment where they flourish.  



Northern Spotted Owl

The northern spotted owl population has suffered from habitat loss which created a decline in spotted owl numbers, causing this species to be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in the 1980s. Helping to preserve their remaining habitat is one of the best ways to protect this species. That’s why it’s so exciting that the presence of spotted owls has been recorded in our forest on several occasions. 




Sequoia Sempervirens

The coastal redwood is a unique type of redwood that spans from Monterey Bay to the Oregon border. The combination of geographic location and topography creates a special ecological niche allowing for the growth of a rare grove of coast redwoods.


Experience a few of our favorite things:

Walk or Run the Trails 

The Back 40 is home to PUC’s most popular running trails. That’s a statement PUC’s cross country team, faculty, staff, students, and community members just looking to stay fit can attest to. Not interested in working up that much of a sweat? The trails are full of people just out for a nice walk to get some fresh air and sunshine.  


Ride a Bike 

Whether you’re an avid rider, member of the PUC biking club, or just a casual rider, there are plenty of beautiful trails for you, including our favorite, the officially named Whoop-Dee-Doos. 


Pet a Dog or Maybe a Horse

Studies show being in nature can reduce stress. Studies also show petting animals will do the same. One of the best things about being out and about in the PUC forest is coming across lots of pets to pet. Be sure to ask permission first!


Did you know the PUC Forest has its own map and webpage? Visit for forest rules and guidelines and a downloadable map. 

You can also follow the forest on Instagram: @PUCForest and Facebook: /PUCForest.

If you have forest related questions contact PUC Forest Management at


Faces of PUC: Dale Withers

Dale Withers has worked at PUC for 35 years and currently holds the title of director of facilities management. But Dale is a lot more than just the director, Dale is a PUCite through and through. He honestly just might know everything there is to know about PUC! Did you know under the PUC campus sits a bunch of secret tunnels? He does! And I can guarantee he’s been in all of them.

We asked Dale to answer a few questions so we can get better acquainted with him.

What brought you to PUC? How/Why did you decide to work here?  

Was working for Dwight Shogren in Texas before he came to PUC. He called me a few months later telling me he needed me at PUC. I wanted out of Texas so bad I never even asked about the benefit package, just asked what day I needed to be there!


What is the best thing about being a part of the Pioneers family? 

Working with students and getting to help people.


Where is your favorite place to eat in the Valley and why?  

Haciendas in Cloverdale, because it’s not in the busy Napa Valley so it’s quiet like restaurants used to be.


What is something you can do/want to do that might be surprising for people to learn?  

Some days I wonder if I am actually making a difference but then someone brightens my day with a compliment.


What is one song you’re listening to on repeat lately?   

Sunshine on my Shoulders.


Who is someone you admire and why?  

My crew because they are my feet and legs. Without them I could not get what we as a team get done here at Facilities. I am blessed to have good people that work for me and care deeply about this institution. And as an added bonus they know how to laugh, which makes for happy times.


Finish this sentence: On Sunday mornings you can find me …

Working mostly lately. Hopefully we can get back to Kayaking and cabin trips again soon!


London Streets: Honors photo blog

The Honors program’s summer trip to London was an incredible learning experience for both faculty and students. Their course, “London Streets” took them throughout the city, personalizing literature they’d studied in previous courses and bringing history to life. Here are a few of their favorite moments captured on film! 



The first day on the train from Newbold to London, bright-eyed and ready to go. (Left to right, front: Amy Ramos (Exercise Science), Sarah Tanner (English), Grae McKelvie (BS Management); back: Ervin Jackson (Biochem), Sebastian Anderson (Graphic Design), a British person, Isabel McMillan (History)) (All class of 2021)


On the train, first day of week 2: (Left to right: Ervin, Grae, Sebastian, Sarah, Amy)




Where modern epidemiology and germ theory was born. This pump was ground zero for the cholera epidemic of 1854. (Left to right: Isabel, Ervin, Sebastian, Sarah, Amy, Grae)



In the 19th-century operating theatre of St. Thomas’s hospital (front to back: Sarah, Sebastian, Grae, Isabel, Amy, Ervin)



Suffragette propaganda in the People’s History Museum, Manchester (Sarah and Isabel)



Saying goodbye on the last day (Isabel, Sarah, Amy; Sebastian in back)






Unswerving Dedication: Paulin Hall Celebrates 50 Years

By Becky St. Clair

Opening Chords

On what was likely a warm, sunny day in Sandusky, Ohio—July 7, 1878—Noah Ernest Paulin entered the world. While many babies were born around the world on this day, this particular little boy has great significance to Pacific Union College, though his parents could not know this at the time.

An early love for music drove young Noah to study the subject at Findlay College (Ohio), until he graduated in 1901. After two years conducting the orchestra for and touring the country with the Henry Minstrels, Paulin moved with his family to Santa Barbara, California, in 1905. He then took graduate courses at what is now UC Santa Barbara, and established a music studio to support himself, which he operated for nine years.

Theme & Variations

Paulin’s path crosses with that of Pacific Union College in 1914, when, after accepting an invitation from C. Walter Irwin, then president of the college, he arrived on the PUC campus with only his well-loved violin, some sheet music, and a few personal belongings. Paulin’s assignment was to establish a music department on the campus, which had only recently relocated to Angwin from Healdsburg, and served a total of 250 students.

Without an official space in which to teach, Paulin began the infant department in his campus home, known for many decades as the Colusa House. However, when he married Mary Louise Plunkett in 1917, the department was moved from his home to Grainger Hall. Here, the issue was that neighboring professors were forced to teach their classes to the accompaniment of band music, heard easily through the thin walls.

The resulting frustration and distraction of this situation led to another move for the music department, this time to West Hall, then home to the campus’ Health Services, where Mary McReynolds, staff physician, noted with some consternation that the music decreased her ability to count pulse rates and heartbeats on her patients. Demonstrating his easy sense of humor, Paulin responded, “What’s a heartbeat to a drum beat?”

Noah Paulin and his wife, Mary, in front of their campus home in 1919. Prior to their marriage, Noah taught music lessons and classes from this home.

Third Movement

After a successful proposal by college administration in 1932, a more permanent space for the music department was erected in the form of the building currently known as Stauffer Hall. Popular student vote proclaimed the building would be named in honor of Professor Paulin, and he continued teaching there until his retirement in 1944.

The original Paulin Hall boasted 13 practice rooms and three studios on the lower level, and a small auditorium upstairs, which also served as a rehearsal room and classroom. The department of music finally had a home. As a result of the new dedicated space, as well as the growing reputation of Paulin’s successful and enjoyable program, the department grew quickly in the years that followed. Not long after Paulin’s retirement, a larger space was required, and a new music building—the one currently in use—was completed in 1966, to which the name Paulin Hall was transferred.

Plans for the new Paulin Hall, expected to cost a grand total of $400,000, were drawn by an architectural firm in San Bernardino called Armstrong, Ulmer, and Tenney. Willard Bresee, a contractor from Angwin, managed the building’s construction. The fountain that still stands in front of the building’s main entrance was not included in the original design but was added during construction of what was called the Paulin Hall Mall a year or so later. The building itself came to a total of $627,000.


The new Paulin Hall opened in May 1967, in a ceremony officiated by Floyd Rittenhouse, then president of the college. Faculty, staff, students, and community members celebrated the new building, as Paulin himself spoke, and Pro Musica, now Vox Pro Musica, provided music prior to the ribbon cutting.

Noah Paulin (right), alongside F.O. Rittenhouse, then president of the college, cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the new Paulin Hall in 1967.

Of the new space, Paulin said, “I cannot praise it too highly. It is arranged well and has good acoustics. They did not forget a thing.” Lyle Jewell, then choral director and associate professor of music, stated that the new Paulin Hall was “tremendous, beautiful, and functional,” and George Wargo, then chair of the department, claimed the building was “perhaps the finest and most elegant music building in California,” and expected the facilities to encourage the faculty to “do the very finest in their work.”

Built to handle a continuous and expected increase in music students at the college, the new Paulin Hall was designed in three sections. The North section contained a choir rehearsal room, choral library and studio, instrumental rehearsal room, orchestra and band library, and an additional studio, in addition to six practice rooms, a kitchen, a recording room, and several storage rooms. The Middle Section comprised the main entrance, a student lounge, and a fully carpeted auditorium with theater seating for nearly 500. The South section was split into two levels, and included general offices, 22 practice rooms, 12 studio rooms, ten listening rooms, and classrooms.

Instrumental Interlude

A 36-rank Casavant pipe organ was installed in the auditorium, with provision to add three more in the future. As it proved desirable to have more, Del Case, then professor of music, installed an additional 12 with the help of two students and a colleague in the early 1970s. In addition to this large organ, two other tracker pipe organs—a Bosch, installed in 1968, and a Phelps, installed sometime during the 1970s—now occupy two practice rooms, as well as four harpsichords, 25 grand pianos, 25 upright pianos, two electronic pianos, and a five-octave handbell set.

On Sunday, May 7, 1967, at 8 p.m., the department of music hosted the very first concert in the new Paulin Hall. It was a candlelight concert, the second of the year, and the program included “Quintet in E flat for Horn and Strings, K. 407” by Mozart, “Vier Ernste Gesange, Op. 21 (Four Serious Songs)” by Brahms, and “Quintet in E flat for Piano and Strings, Op. 44” by Schumann. Performers were Joyce Staddon (violin), George Wargo (violin), Julien Lobsien (viola), Wesley Follett (cello), Lyle Jewell (bass), Carlyle Manous (horn), Morris Taylor (piano), and Merrill Barnhart (piano).

The grand opening of the new Paulin Hall on April 23, 1967, brought faculty, staff, students, and community members together to celebrate the state-of-the-art space for PUC music students.

Students enjoy the open space and fountain in front of Paulin Hall during the 1970s.

The brand new Paulin Hall foyer let in plenty of natural light and welcomed visitors to the 500-seat auditorium for concerts and recitals.

D.C. al Fine

Today, 16 students are studying as music majors at PUC, and an additional 60 participate in the numerous ensembles which rehearse and often perform in Paulin Hall. These ensembles also regularly tour to places across the country and around the world.

Paulin Hall is also home to Paulin Center for the Creative Arts, a community music program which debuted in the early 1980s, started by Lois Case, now professor emeritus after teaching at PUC for 41 years. Once as large as 200 students, with 20 contract and student teachers, the PCCA continues to offer voice and instrument lessons to community members, allowing a greater number of people access to music performance experience, and PUC music students the opportunity to develop their teaching skills.


In 1968, at the age of 90, Noah Paulin was the recipient of PUC’s first doctorate, an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree. Rittenhouse commended Paulin for his “unswerving dedication to the highest standards of musical excellence, faithful adherence to Christian principles, penetrating insight into the wellsprings of human conduct, consistency, dependability, unfailing kindness, scholarly tastes and ideals, persistence and patience in difficulty, and an unfailing and delicious sense of humor.”

These characteristics, loved and respected so much in Noah Paulin, are still embodied by PUC’s department of music today, as it serves and trains musicians from around the world for successful careers in the performing arts.

In honor of the anniversary of Paulin Hall, The Beatitudes, a cantata composed by Asher Raboy, resident artist at Pacific Union College, will be performed in its entirety for the first time on Saturday afternoon, April 21. The performance will feature the PUC choir and orchestra, both including alumni and community members, and will highlight guest soloists. Composed in a mere four months at the end of 2017, the 40-minute cantata is based on the eight blessings recounted by Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. The Beatitudes concert will take place in Paulin Hall Auditorium at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 21. Admission is free. For a map of the campus, visit

Paulin Hall today.

PUC Celebrates Black History Month

Pacific Union College has always been committed to diversity. Today, in celebration of Black History Month, we are honoring a few of the college’s many accomplished black African-American alumni.

Charles Kinney

Charles Kinney

Charles Kinney
Born a slave in 1855, Charles Kinney moved west and became an Adventist in 1878. Sponsors paid for him to study theology at Healdsburg College (1883-1885), now known as Pacific Union College. Kinney later became the first ordained black Seventh-day Adventist minister. He established regional conferences and oversaw much of the Church’s growth. When he joined the Church, there were only about 50 African-American Adventists. At the time of his death, there were over 25,000.


Frank L. Peterson

Frank L. Peterson
Frank L. Peterson, class of 1916, was the first African-American student to graduate from PUC. His long career of service began with teaching at Oakwood College (now University) and pastoring, but he quickly advanced. Peterson served for nine years as the president of Oakwood, and in the 1960s, became a vice president at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Arna Bontemps

Arna Bontemps

Arna Bontemps
Before he became a friend of Langston Hughes and a respected poet and novelist in the Harlem Renaissance, Arna Bontemps graduated from PUC in 1923. Bontemps studied English at PUC, and he also wrote for the Campus Chronicle, the college’s student newspaper. He is now best known for his novel Black Thunder, which tells the story of an 1800 Virginia slave rebellion. The Nelson Memorial Library at PUC owns a signed copy of this and other Bontemps works.

M. Inez Booth

M. Inez Booth

M. Inez Booth
Mary Inez Booth studied music at PUC and graduated in 1937. During her junior year, she was baptized into the Adventist Church. Booth’s dedication to her faith took precedence in all she did. She spent her career teaching music at Oakwood and she also founded the Oakwood Jail Band Ministry, which she led for 50 years. In 1983, she became a sheriff’s deputy, an honorary post she held until she was 90-years-old.

Ruth Frazier Stafford

Ruth Frazier Stafford

Ruth Frazier Stafford
When she graduated from PUC in 1938, Ruth Stafford didn’t know her nursing degree would take her all over the United States. Stafford served in hospitals from southern California to Chicago to Tennessee. She wrote a regular column for Message Magazine and taught nursing classes at Oakwood. While she earned a master’s degree from Columbia University, Stafford coordinated the nursing program for Meharry Medical Center.


Will Battles & Paul Cobb
Will Battles, Paul Cobb, and two other PUC students drove 2,400 miles from Oakland to Selma, Ala., to march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on March 21, 1965. Cobb,class of 1965, convinced three of his PUC classmates to come along in his two-seater car. In this photo by Al Loeb, Battles (wearing a fedora) and Cobb (pencil behind his ear) are seated behind Dr. King as the marchers rest in a grassy area between Selma and Montgomery. You can read more about their amazing story in “A Journey and a March,” in a 2005 issue of the Adventist Review.

Photographs and information courtesy of the Nelson Memorial Library at Pacific Union College.