Remembering Alma Gardner, Former PSR Adjunct Faculty Member

September 4, 2013

Alma Gardner (aka Alma Weseman) passed away at her home in Berkeley, on June 10, 2013, after a brief illness. She taught Bible Resources Workshops to seminarians at PSR for over 30 years. Alma’s parents’ lives contributed to her decision to attend PSR.

Alma’s mother, Florence, was put on a ship to California alone at the age of 12, to escape social and political turmoil in Russia. Despite a lack of schooling and being treated like a servant by her California family, Florence became a wise, self-educated woman.

Alma’s father, Joseph, earned a High School Diploma late at age 20, then worked as a salesman and patent agent until age 38. Without attending college, he studied law at night, and took the California Bar Exam numerous times, finally passing at age 50. A gifted artist, he practiced patent law in Oakland until his death at age 84.

Her parents’ example of perseverance despite humble beginnings and advanced age, together with Alma’s interest in the Bible and spirituality, inspired her to apply to graduate school at PSR after her children were grown. Alma had been long been out of college, and was rejected once for entrance by PSR. But she audited classes, reapplied, and was accepted. She earned an M.A. in Biblical Studies in 1979 and a Certificate of Advanced Professional Studies in 1981.

Alma was a Christian Scientist who was elected by her congregation to conduct the church services as First Reader. She loved teaching, and taught college age Sunday School classes in Berkeley for many years. Interested in spiritual healing, she helped organize an interdenominational lecture and discussion on women and spirituality.

Alma continued to use her Biblical training from PSR to teach Bible study, both at PSR and at various community locations in the Bay Area for three decades. Student evaluations of her classes expressed appreciation of her ability to make the Bible accessible and relevant to their lives.

We welcome all who knew Alma to attend a memorial celebration at Pacific School of Religion Chapel, on Saturday, November 16, 2013, at 10:30 a.m. For more information, contact Alma’s daughter, Karyn Mandan, karynmandan[at]gmail[dot]com.