CHAPTER 02  Roy Meets Betty 1942-1943


In the summer of 1942 I moved move from Westervelt Home to Illinois by Greyhound bus. This move was almost as profound a change as moving from one continent to another. The Westervelt Home environment had been more “missionary world” tnan American. But Illinois was the real USA! I spent the summer in Chicago where I was counseled by my sister who was then finishing at Moody Bible Institute (MBI) She helped me get a job and rent a room. This was my first-ever experience of earning a wage and renting a room. It was a steep learning curve for an MK from Africa. In the fall I moved to Wheaton to live with my siblings there. And it was then I met Betty and the Lane family (see Notes #3 below). Betty and I attended Wheaton Academy High School and graduated in May 1943.

The stirrings of World War II closed out this era for us.


  1. Roy’s move from Westervelts to Wheaton
  2. Shaffer siblings together in cozy apartment
  3. The Lanes
  4. Wheaton Academy
  5. The Drums of War


  1. Roy’s move from Westervelts to Wheaton

 In Chicago, summer of ‘42

I got to Wheaton in the middle of the night. I was not sure of my brother Harry’s location so I just curled up under a lilac bush for the rest of the night. Harry took me into Chicago to put me in the care of my sister Ruth Marie then studying at Moody Bible Institute (MBI). Through her Moody connections she got me a job downtown at Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Co. There I was a scullery boy at a kitchen and dining room which served the top echelon of this bank (then one of the largest in US). The chef was French and was said to have at one time been chef at the White House. He was very imperious. One day he put in my hands a most ornate cake to take up a steep, narrow stair to the Bank President’s dining room. He said “Young man, go wiz grrreat care. If you stumble on ze stairs and ze cake she cracks, zen zere is only one zing for you to do. Put down ze cake and start rrrrrunning away from zis place. And don’t ever come back.”

 To save car fare I walked to the bank a couple of miles down LaSalle Street from the room I rented near MBI. Thanks again to Ruth Marie I got an evening job washing dishes at the YWCA where she waitressed. Near that job was a public park ­­­­(Newberry?) frequented by a variety of interesting “characters”. One old guy wanted to teach me chess. But when I got out of work about 10 p.m. I was too tired to take him up on it. I have always regretted missing that education.

  1. Shaffer siblings together in cozy apartment

At Wheaton  My brother Harry, sister Ruth Marie and I lived in a compact apartment created out of an attic a few blocks from the campus. Ruth Marie occupied the bedroom and Harry and I slept on the open porch. The downstairs apartment was occupied by a retired AIM missionary widow and her daughter – the Grimshaws. This building was one of many kindnesses provided by Morty and Mary Lane.

  1. The Lanes
Betty with her Mother 1926, Washington DC
Betty at about 2 years old

Betty was born in the Lane home on California St. in Washington, DC, 22 Jan 1926. Part of her childhood was in Pittsburgh. Then the Lanes moved to Switzerland. (Chateau-d’Oex.) where their large chalet was named “Chalet Gumfluh”. At the end of WWII that chalet became for a time a recovery center for women victims of Ravensbrook concentration camp.

Chalet Gumfluh in Chateau D’Oex, Switzerland
Betty at school in Switzerland (Second from right)

Betty attended a local Swiss primary school where she developed a fluency and accurate pronunciation in the French language. Winter recreation for Lanes was skiing at Murren.

Betty and St. Bernard, Murren, Switzerland 1930s

For summer recreation, they visited chalets in the High Alps. Alternatively, they stayed at Frinton-On-Sea or Eastbourne in UK. There they were close friends with the Gills. Many years later the Gills, then living in Yorkshire, were our hosts for Dan’s birth. At some point the Lane parents came into a personal, born-again relationship with Jesus Christ, and accordingly reoriented their lives to the evangelical ethos. That reorientation eventually led them to that academic citadel of evangelicalism, Wheaton College. Betty’s father, Mortimer joined the faculty to teach economics, the seven children became, year by year, college students.

Lane Family in mid-1940s (Betty in middle in front of father Mortimer).

How did the Lane and Shaffer families converge?

My maternal grandmother, Mertie F. Thiers, despite her modest education was an innovator, entrepreneur and visionary far outside her womanly role (for that time). She had a fixation on Christian education, and that led her and her husband Frank to move the family from rural Oklahoma to Chicago, to be near the Moody Bible Institute. In addition, she secured a house in Wheaton adjacent to the college campus. This house provided board and room for Wheaton college students. In later years that house became the “French House” and our daughter Marilyn lived there.

Daughter Marilyn at her Great Grandmother’s (Mertie F. Theirs) house at Wheaton College

Though none of Mertie Thiers own children actually became Wheaton college students, some of her Shaffer grandchildren did, including my brother, two sisters and myself. Hence the Shaffers being in Wheaton at the same time as the Lanes.

Roy E. and Ruth Shaffer with Mary and Mortimer Lane
The Lane Home, 512 N. Scott St., Wheaton

The Lanes, with seven kids, had a big house and even bigger hearts. The Lane hospitality became legendary. Their house at 512 N. Scott St. conveniently situated three blocks from the campus usually reverberated to the interaction of a variety of cultures, languages and personalities. For Sunday noon meals there were up to 20 guests, usually including overseas students and “Third-Culture” missionary kids like myself. The Wangs were from China, the Cabezas from Costa Rica, the Pierson girls (MKs) from Angola and the Hess girls (MKs) from Tanzania. During those days a frequent guest at the Lane home was a young Southerner named Billy Graham. I think Betty’s oldest sister Carol had had a part in introducing Billy to another missionary kid from China named Ruth Bell. Carol’s classmate and beau, John Streater ran a campus trucking service and had employed Billy as a loader. John earlier had been one of the early fruits of Dawson Trotman’s Navigator ministry. In 1947 John and Carol went as missionaries to Chengdu, China. But by the early ‘50s the rise of Maoism and the US involvement in the Korean war made their presence in China untenable. Meanwhile back at Wheaton Betty and I were ushers in the “Tab”(ernacle), a congregation which Billy pastored while still a student. During this time Billy Graham baptized Betty. Billy was a groomsman in the wedding of Betty’s sister Eva to Howard Van Buren (see photo below). Howard was soon thereafter involved in the Manhattan Project, developing the atom bomb. During my time in the US army I visited Howard and Eva at Oak Ridge, Tennesee.

Eva and Howard Van Buren wedding. Betty 5th from left. Billy Graham on right.
Wheaton Academy entrance 1940s
  1. Wheaton Academy

The first semester of my Senior year of High School was at Wheaton (public) High. I had minimal social contacts and no sports activity. But then, thanks to the Lane connection I transferred to Wheaton Academy for the second semester. The Academy was on the Wheaton College campus so there was much admixture of academic life and social activities. The college sponsored numerous public musical concerts by prominent national artists. The Head was of Wheaton Academy was Dean Schell, a most kind and intelligent man. He taught Physics and stirred my interest. By remarkable coincidence, fifty years later in Albuquerque, NM we bought a house in a real estate development originated by Schell’s aunt and inherited by him. We lived two blocks from Schell Ct.

In the spring of 1943 I had to register for military service. During his time Betty and I spent some pleasant hours on the porch at the Lane home (512 N. Scott St.) listening to patriotic songs recorded by “Fred Waring and His 50 Pennsylvanians” and other nationally popular musical groups. This was after Pearl Harbor but a year before D-Day. Our Academy Senior Class had a Retreat to a lake in Wisconsin where we indulged in some hi-jinks. One of our classmates was Lucy, daughter of Dr ­­­Northcott Deck   a “Brethren” (Assemblies) missionary to the South Seas. Lucy went on to marriage and was, with her husband co-founder of Shaw Publishers (of Christian poetry). We graduated together from Wheaton Academy in May 1943.

  1. 5. The Drums of War
Wheaton Rifle Club 1942- Roy far left middle row, short sleeves

During this time (42-43) in Wheaton, I was able to participate in the College ROTC program. I also enjoyed membership in the Wheaton community rifle club. This latter experience stood me in good stead when I did well at marksmanship in the Army. Sometime in July 1943 I went off for basic training. Camp Grant was only a few miles from Wheaton geographically, but another world psychologically. See next chapter for details.

Link to Photos for this chapter (Chapter 2 Together)

Link to next chapter (Chapter 3 Off to War)


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