MNU news

Celebrating Three Beloved Pioneers

Mrs. Marge Smith

MNU’s Founding First Lady Mrs. Marge Smith passed away March 15, 2015. She will be remembered for a legacy of faithfulness and investment in the lives of others.

Vivacious and funny, she had an unshakeable Christian faith, was a lady in every respect, and had an unquenchable passion for life–and for caring for people. She was a prayer warrior for and second mom to college students who often were leaving home for the first time.  She could win anyone with her warm smile and low southern drawl. She was real and practical and hard working. She was a modern day pioneer. 

Marge met R. Curtis “Curt” Smith at Bethany Nazarene College (now Southern Nazarene University). Married in 1937, they had two sons, Barth, MNU professor emeritus of practical theology, and Blake. 

After pastoring churches in Texas, Dr. Smith served as vice president of public relations and fund raising at Bethany Nazarene College.

In 1966, he was selected to be MNU’s founding president.

"They gave us $5,000 and said 'It's an opportunity—come build a college,'" Marge recounted in 2013. By faith and determination they gave of themselves to bring that dream to life. Through their legacy, Curt and Marge shaped the direction of Olathe and the futures of thousands of students.

“I feel like it’s my baby,” Marge shared about the university in a 2013 interview. “I feel like all those kids are my kids, and everybody that’s ever been through [MNU], whether I know them or not, I just claim every one of them like they were mine.”

Adapted from a tribute by Melody Smith, granddaughter of Marge Smith.



Dr. Keith R. Bell

Dr. Keith R. Bell, Pioneer faculty member and former vice president for academic affairs and dean, passed away October 6, 2014. Dr. Bell served in many positions at MNU including professor of modern languages, director of admissions and registrar. In 1992 he accepted a position at Point Loma Nazarene University teaching Spanish. Later, he served PLNU as vice provost for academic administration.

Dr. Bell was proficient in five languages and exceptionally talented as an organist and musician. He had a passion for detail and a spontaneous sense of humor and wit. 



Dr. James Main

Dr. James Main passed away December 3, 2014. Dr. Main

was a founding Pioneer faculty member, former chair of the Division of Fine Arts and director of Heritage Choir. He retired from MNU in 1997.

Dr. Main also served at European Nazarene Bible College in Büsingen, Germany. He was an excellent vocalist, pianist and choir director who traveled with choirs and ensembles across the United States and Europe. 


Director of Alumni Relations Kevin Garber (’89) shared a memory that was echoed by several Heritage Choir alumni in attendance at Dr. Main’s memorial service.

“What they remembered most was how often Dr. Main would conduct choir with tears streaming down his face because he was blessed by the music and the Holy Spirit.”


 Photo album of these three founding pioneers -


Care to share your memories of these founding Pioneers?
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This Issue

Summer 2018

Recognition: Amazing accomplishments, noteworthy events. This is Accent Summer 2018.

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