Larry Becker
Photo by Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

 NEWTON, Kan. (Mennonite Mission Network) — Larry Becker recently heard a phrase: “When you’re on the last page, it’s time to close the book.” On Jan. 29, Becker will close a volume 50 years in the writing—the length of his service to the church.

But the local systems administrator does not plan to stop adding pages. His departure is a change, not a retirement.

For the last half-century, Becker, 69, has helped first the General Conference Mennonite Church and now Mennonite Church USA advance technologically, leading the shift from typewriters to computers in the 1970s and staying on top of the rapid technological evolutions of recent decades, despite having no official training in electronics.

“He's the one who brought the computers to us. … He's trained himself, has taken a few classes. He's brought us into a technological age,” said Chris Graber, information technology helpdesk manager and systems trainer.

Why 50 years in one place? First, Becker likes to finish what he starts. And he thought that this was his call, his niche that allowed him to do pleasurable work for the church. This place, he said, offered a different kind of work with people he enjoyed.

Becker, a member of First Mennonite Church in Newton, had dreamed of being a farmer, like his family in Turpin, Okla., but land was scarce. In 1960, Becker joined the General Conference’s Newton, Kan., office on a 1-W assignment that replaced military service. His mother, Mary Ann (Boese) Becker, found the job for him from an ad in The Mennonite. He began in the printing and mailing department without experience.

“I had never seen a postage meter or a press before. But I learned,” Becker said. “God gave me a knack for figuring things out. I think growing up on the farm gave me a feel for doing things myself and working with my hands.”

Over the years, Becker worked in accounting, was manager of information technology, and was in charge of maintenance for the Newton office.

“Larry knows where every wire is for every office because he likely put it there, fixed it, or saw it when he was crawling through the ceiling working on something else,” Graber said. “He knows the crawlspaces under the building, too.”

Becker repaired everything from typewriters to computers to tin siding blown from the office building by powerful Kansas winds. His knack for self-education helped him stay current with technological advances that have made his job less about his hands and more about his mind. Gone are the days when he found a way to fix an early malfunctioning Datapoint computer by noticing a spark on its circuit board and spot-soldering a wire back in place. Today, he said, he just replaces the boards.

Becker was an early proponent of computers and other technological gadgets. He owned one of the early personal computers—the Commodore VIC-20—and pushed for the Datapoint system for the GC offices in the late-1970s. Even as some employees grumbled, Becker said he saw the ability of technology to improve data collection and communication. Of course, he thought one computer in each department for employees to share would be plenty.

Today, Becker makes no claims of technologically predictive powers.

“Then I could see how repetitious things could be processed. Now I don’t know what can be next,” he said. “I’m not saying we’ve invented everything there is to be invented, but I’m sure the next 10 years will be a lot different than what we think.”

While he is unsure what lies ahead, it may be better than what has recently passed. Becker’s wife, Pat, who battled multiple chemical sensitivities and co-founded a Mennonite chemical sensitivities support group through the Anabaptist Disabilities Network, died of cancer Aug. 4, 2008, just eight days shy of the their 48th anniversary. They had three children and four grandchildren. Later, Becker himself was diagnosed with prostate cancer and recently had eye surgery that required him to keep his face pointed at the ground for nearly four weeks. His vision is still blurry.

In Becker’s office sit a few relics, a few memories—old parts and pieces, an 8-inch floppy disk, one of the church’s original Datapoint computers and a long-dormant PC, the first bought by the denomination. Before he leaves, he said, he may fire it up again, while standing by with an extinguisher in case of smoke. Then he will walk out of the same door he’s entered for 50 years.

“I’m ready to open a new book and start a first page somewhere else,” he said.

Melanie Zuercher’s Feb. 4, 2000, news release for General Conference Mennonite Church, “Forty-year veteran keeps things running at GC offices,” contributed to this story.

 

 

 Related

 

 

Youth Venture Republic of Benin Tour is open for applicationsYouth Venturehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4838/Youth-Venture-Republic-of-Benin-TourYouth Venture Republic of Benin Tour is open for applicationsGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476La Casa Grande Benin
Webinar continues legacy of discerning why baptism mattersIndiahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4835/Webinar-continues-legacy-of-discerning-why-baptism-mattersWebinar continues legacy of discerning why baptism mattersGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Mission Network facilitates workshops in faith, politics and reconciliation in EcuadorLatin Americahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4834/workshops-in-EcuadorMission Network facilitates workshops in faith, politics and reconciliation in EcuadorGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Quito
Indonesia Tour open for applicationsYouth Venturehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4832/Indonesia-tour-open-for-applicationsIndonesia Tour open for applicationsGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Indonesia
The Ross Richers return to EcuadorReturn to Ecuadorhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4833/The-Ross-Richers-return-to-EcuadorThe Ross Richers return to EcuadorGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
The 2022 most popular resources at Mission NetworkResourceshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4824/2022-most-popular-resourcesThe 2022 most popular resources at Mission NetworkGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Odesa Theological Seminary continues courses despite warOdesa Theological Seminaryhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4818/Odesa-Theological-Seminary-continues-courses-despite-warOdesa Theological Seminary continues courses despite warGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Odesa
Football league fundraiser is no fantasyCreative Givinghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4777/Football-league-fundraiser-is-no-fantasyFootball league fundraiser is no fantasyGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Kansas
Native Cinema Showcase 2022Native American Cinemahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4815/Native-Cinema-Showcase-2022Native Cinema Showcase 2022GP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Washington, D.C.
Creating sacred space for peacebuilders of faithMISSION MONTHhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4806/Creating-sacred-space-for-peacebuilders-of-faithCreating sacred space for peacebuilders of faithGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
A windmill becomes a windfallCreative Givinghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4816/A-windmill-becomes-a-windfallA windmill becomes a windfallGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Mission Network family joins in sacred space of hospitality for refugees in FranceMISSION MONTHhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4805/Mission-Network-family-joins-in-sacred-space-of-hospitality-for-refugees-in-FranceMission Network family joins in sacred space of hospitality for refugees in FranceGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476CALAIS
Mennonites and Muslims create sacred space by responding to sufferingMISSION MONTHhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4804/Mennonites-and-Muslims-create-sacred-space-Mennonites and Muslims create sacred space by responding to sufferingGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476BOBO DIOULASSO
USA church leaders/mission personnel take deep dive into religious life in FranceParis Mennonite Centerhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4802/USA-church-leaders-mission-personnel-take-deep-dive-into-religious-life-in-FranceUSA church leaders/mission personnel take deep dive into religious life in FranceGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Paris
Deborah Byler helped open the way for Kekchi Mennonite women to leadLatin Americahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/features/4794/Deborah-Byler-helped-open-the-way-for-Kekchi-Mennonite-women-to-leadDeborah Byler helped open the way for Kekchi Mennonite women to leadGP0|#05a33fc1-6e8d-4626-9a24-6ec955fb3802;L0|#005a33fc1-6e8d-4626-9a24-6ec955fb3802|Features;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476;GPP|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1San Pedro Carchá

 

 

 

 

Youth Venture Republic of Benin Tour is open for applicationshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4838/Youth-Venture-Republic-of-Benin-TourYouth Venture Republic of Benin Tour is open for applications
Webinar continues legacy of discerning why baptism mattershttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4835/Webinar-continues-legacy-of-discerning-why-baptism-mattersWebinar continues legacy of discerning why baptism matters
Mission Network facilitates workshops in faith, politics and reconciliation in Ecuadorhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4834/workshops-in-EcuadorMission Network facilitates workshops in faith, politics and reconciliation in Ecuador
Indonesia Tour open for applicationshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4832/Indonesia-tour-open-for-applicationsIndonesia Tour open for applications
The Ross Richers return to Ecuadorhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4833/The-Ross-Richers-return-to-EcuadorThe Ross Richers return to Ecuador
The 2022 most popular resources at Mission Networkhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4824/2022-most-popular-resourcesThe 2022 most popular resources at Mission Network



 

 

Youth Venture Republic of Benin Tour is open for applicationshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4838/Youth-Venture-Republic-of-Benin-TourYouth Venture Republic of Benin Tour is open for applicationsYouth Venture
Who Will Be A Witness? reexamines the revolution of Jesushttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4837/Who-Will-Be-A-WitnessWho Will Be A Witness? reexamines the revolution of JesusBook Review
Sent Conference 2023https://www.mennonitemission.net/resources/church-vitality/church-planting/sent/conference/4836/Sent-Conference-2023Sent Conference 2023
Webinar continues legacy of discerning why baptism mattershttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4835/Webinar-continues-legacy-of-discerning-why-baptism-mattersWebinar continues legacy of discerning why baptism mattersIndia
Mission Network facilitates workshops in faith, politics and reconciliation in Ecuadorhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4834/workshops-in-EcuadorMission Network facilitates workshops in faith, politics and reconciliation in EcuadorLatin America
Indonesia Tour open for applicationshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4832/Indonesia-tour-open-for-applicationsIndonesia Tour open for applicationsYouth Venture