The Reverend Dr. Larry A. Dunster
The Reverend Larry A. Dunster, called by this congregation during the summer of 1970*, came to Irwin from Barnesboro where he served as Pastor of the St. Paul's United Presbyterian Church and the St. Benedict Presbyterian Church.
Larry grew up in Middle Granville, New York, one of three children. His childhood included active membership in a small Presbyterian Church (50 members) which was a major influence leading him into a full time Christian ministry. While completing his studies at Bloomfield College, New Jersey, where he was active in student affairs, he met Susan Angstadt while enjoying a Sunday afternoon dinner with her and her family. Following their marriage in 1962 they moved to Pittsburgh where Larry completed the requirements for his M.Div. and Susan taught second grade in the Penn Hills School District. They accepted a call to three Presbyterian Churches in Northern Cambria County in 1966 before accepting a call to the First Presbyterian Church of Irwin in 1970.†
With the manse at 617 Main Street their destined home, the 28 year old Reverend Dunster, his wife, Susan, and three sons: Peter, Stephen, and Timothy (ages 7, 3, and 1 respectively at the time) moved to Irwin on August 31, 1970.
During their time at Irwin our church grew from a base of 300 members to a reported membership of 1,415 in 1997. Our financial support for the work of Christ has grown from less that [SIC] $50,000 in 1970 to more and [SIC] $830,000 in 1997. While pastoring a growing and vital congregation of dedicated and enthusiastic Christians Susan and Larry maintained active participation in community life. They spent the summer of 1972 on a pulpit exchange in Hamilton, Scotland, and have led several trips for study and personal growth to the Holy Lands, Russia, Great Britain, and Europe.†
The church's noted red doors came into being in the early 70's during Larry's time at First Presbyterian. Larry and Susan experienced a joyous bicentennial 1976 with the birth of their daughter, Rebekah. In 1977 Larry obtained his Doctorate of Ministry at Luther Rice Seminary. A few other moments of this man of God:
The pastor and the ladies at the office enjoyed perpetrating practical jokes on each other. The ladies taking their turn used the pastor's passion for apple pie to set up their caper. They filled a pie tin with paper clips and covered it with a towel and called him to come get his just reward. The escapade took a twist when the reverend in a hurry to do visitations grabbed the "pie" and took it with him.
Blessed are those who arrive towards the end of the annual flea market in a pickup truck for they will mysteriously find in their truck beds flea market items that had not sold.
The time when during a children's sermon he asked a young girl where she got her red hair evidently noticing that neither parent had such colored hair. To this the girl replied: "The milkman". As the congregation roared, Reverend Dunster assumed a smile along with a somewhat red face and made a comment about being more careful in the questions he asked.
Towards the beginning of his tenure there is the memory of this Pastor personally picking up kids to attend their confirmation classes in his stick shift Volkswagon Beetle and then delivering them back home again afterwards.
In regard to the VW, the Reverend moved from that to an MGB stage. Following that he obtained an orange 1977 Corvette. As with many other things he went in all the way becoming president of the Western Pennsylvania Corvette Club which at the time was the largest in the eastern United States. The club once displayed its members collection of cars at the now gone Greengate Mall. Larry's shiny Corvette was parked in front of Jo-Ann Fabrics.
Since Larry and Susan's time here:
They are the parents of four married children. Peter and Stephen who graduated from Grove City college. Timothy who serves as a Captain in the United States Air Force following graduation from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania; and Rebekah, who is a graduate of Penn State University.†
Three of their children and three of their four grandchildren Angela, Joshua and Michael live in South Carolina where Susan and Larry have built a home on Lake Hartwell. The other grandchild, Jacob, is with Captain Timothy and Amy Dunster in Washington state.
They will continue to serve Christ and His Church and extend their best wishes, love and prayers to everyone.†
Reverend Dunster went on to served First Church for 28 years before leaving in 1998. To date his service is the longest in the church's history.
..I gave our 77 Corvette to our daughter, Rebekah, in October 2004. It has been replaced with a Millenium Yellow 2000 Convertible. 20,000 miles, 6 speed, and powerful beyond words. And a wee bit faster than most cars, so I am told.
May 28, 2005
Look for the personal plate:
REV R UP
†Celebration of the Ministry of Larry A. Dunster, The First Presbyterian Church. Irwin, October, 11, 1998.