faithfully serving the church for 50 years
For Dan Bodiker, 2014 marks his fiftieth year in the Bethany Christian Schools community. However fifty years is more than just a number, it represents many relationships built, connections made, and lives touched by someone who has been well known in the Bethany community for generations as Bod.
Bod grew up in Lima, Ohio, and attended Jefferson Street Mennonite, a small mission church planted by Olive Mennonite in Wakarusa. After graduating from Lima Senior High School, Bod attended Goshen College to study physical education and health, with a minor in history. When a position became available at Bethany Christian right as Bod was graduating, he took the opportunity there not yet knowing how long he was planning to stay. Fifty years later Bod still enjoys the environment and continues to find the experience extremely rewarding. Bod says, “It’s just a good place to teach. The faculty and administration are super.”
Bod’s clear passion and willingness to minister to youth through his role as teacher, coach, and mentor has impacted several generations. Jim Buller, a former student athlete of Bod’s and now Bethany’s guidance counselor and varsity boys basketball coach, describes Bod as "truly one of the most friendly and hospitable people, with a phenomenal recollection of names and connections." This last part rings especially true; students and faculty alike can testify that Bod usually remembers students’ names, some of their relative’ names, and any connections he may have with them from the community, long after they have graduated.
These connections are what Bod values and builds through his involvement in all aspects of school life. He continues to drive classes on field trips and sports teams to away contests, and attends almost every Bethany event whether it is athletic, dramas and musicals, or open houses. He has worked to make Bethany a welcoming place for visitors to the school for any event, and is a gracious and welcoming host. Buller says it is Bod’s “ever-willingness to talk that really distinguishes him.”
Originally hired to teach and start an interscholastic athletic program, Bod greatly influenced not only the program’s beginning, but its lasting legacy. He coached three, briefly four, sports for over thirty years and served as athletic director for many of those as well, developing the unique coach-athlete relationships still found at Bethany today. This is one of the reasons that many former athletes who played for Bod have gone on to be coaches themselves, some at Bethany. Bethany graduate Bryan Kehr (’78) remembers having Bod as a coach and how it helped him grow, saying, “My high school coach (baseball, soccer and basketball) served as a great role model for me and many other young athletes in high school. He was a calm coach who, I believe, helped me develop as a player.” Kehr went on to coach girls soccer and serve as athletic director at Bethany and now is currently coaching women’s soccer at Hesston College.
However, even outside of athletics Bod stays connected within the Bethany community by teaching driver education. His current and former students span across generations, with parents and children alike sharing memories of being taught to drive by Bod. Bod’s wide scope of influence is recognized by many, including current parent Cindy (Bontrager, '82) Hawkins, who says, “When my daughter comments that she can’t believe Dan Bodiker was my driver education teacher, I smile at the memories of a wonderful and patient teacher and am thankful that he can have a part in nurturing my children also.”
Bod’s life work may not have included climbing a corporate ladder, but his ministry has extended towards students and faculty in the Bethany community for generations. He says that people’s life work should be something that they enjoy doing, not only for monetary reasons. Bod exemplifies someone whose life accomplishments are measured not only by awards and honors, but rather by lives touched. The circle of people influenced by his life continues to grow. He recalls connections with former students and their work today, and says, "I have been very blessed to work at a school that is nurturing students who will be the church of tomorrow."
~Katie Hurst, Bethany senior and editor of Sightline, Bethany's online student news publication