He never set foot on MNU’s campus. In fact, he rarely left his birthplace of Lipscomb County, Texas. But David Jesse Hostutler loved the Lord, believed in supporting his church and through his extended family of nieces, nephews and cousins, found value in a small Christian college in the Midwest.
Hostutler, a farmer, rancher and – later in life – an oil man, made a bequest of $1.3 million to MNU. Upon his death in July 2013, the university received the unexpected gift and set out to learn more about this quiet, Christian man who gave so generously to further the mission of MNU.
As it turned out, Hostutler had many ties to MNU. Dr. Randy Cloud, chair of Christian Ministry and Formation, is his great nephew. The Clouds and the Hostutlers are large families with deep roots in Texas and the Church of the Nazarene. Growing up in the panhandle of Texas, Hostutler was close to his nephew, Cloud’s father. Cloud remembers visiting his Uncle David every summer for family reunions.
“He lived a plain and simple life,” Cloud says. “He was married and had no children, but all the nieces, nephews and cousins called him Uncle David. He was the family patriarch in a sense. Everyone wanted to hang out with him. He was the fun uncle who was always doing something interesting.”
Eileen Walker of Olathe is Hostutler’s niece. She remembers the Hostutler farm was always fun for the children.
“Jumping in the hay, playing with the cousins, they were a relaxed Texas family and all the children thought the world of Uncle David,” she recalls.
His homestead was near Higgins, Texas, an important cattle-shipping point in the late 1800s that developed when the railroad came through. The town is quite small now, under 500 in population. Born in 1919, Hostutler became a rancher and loved his life on the Texas grasslands caring for his cattle and farming. Walker says the outdoorsman’s hobby was fishing, and he kept a boat at a nearby lake.
Hostutler was a loyal layman and staunch supporter of Higgins Church of the Nazarene his entire life, serving on the church board and as an usher. Even after he moved to a nursing home 30 minutes from Higgins, he still attended whenever the weather was good.
Rev. Wes Harper, Hostutler’s former pastor, says the layman was largely responsible for keeping the church going financially.
“As is typical of many farmers and ranchers who had spent years scratching out a living in West Texas, they gained the means to be supportive of others financially when the oil and gas wells came through,” Harper says. “It wasn’t uncommon for David to hand me a check for the church or Nazarene Compassionate Ministries when I visited him in the nursing home. And he supported many other projects in Higgins.”
Through his financial support, his loyal attendance and his solid Christian example, Hostutler had a hand in shepherding church members who would be launched from the town of 500 to become ministers, missionaries, chaplains and committed laypeople. In this way, his influence in the world is much larger than he probably ever knew.
Among his extended family are several ministers and many others who chose a Christian education at colleges such as Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Okla., and MidAmerica Nazarene University. According to Cloud, more than 20 former students and alumni of MNU are relatives of Hostutler.
Upon receipt of the unrestricted gift, MNU wanted to direct a portion to an area for which Hostutler would have had an affinity. A portion was set aside to form the David Hostutler Memorial Scholarship Fund. As a part of the endowment for ministerial scholarships for students, the fund will grow and benefit students for years to come.
“There are quite a few pastors from our family, so it’s a good fit. He would be pleased,” Cloud says. “This surprise gift is proof that one never knows how far one’s influence will go. It also shows that we never know where God’s blessings will come from.”
Cloud says though his uncle never visited MNU, he was able to see the value of a place like this.
“He just saw the influence of MNU through his family and for that we are blessed now and far into the future.”
For information on how you can leave a legacy at MNU visit mnugiving.org.