James H. Batdorff and Alfreda L. (Pinther) Batdorff will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary from 2-4 p.m. Dec. 28 at the First United Methodist Church in Coos Bay in a celebration given by their children: James A. and Kellie (Cook), of Albany; Jonathan Batdorff, of Ft. Wayne, Ind.; and Janice (Batdorff) and Andrew McClary, of North Bend. The couple was married at the bride's church, the First Baptist Church in Nampa, Idaho, on Dec. 27, 1964.
Jim and Alfreda met at the First Baptist Church, in Coos Bay, in March of 1964. Alfreda was the choir director and Jim, having just arrived from northern Michigan, had just joined the choir. That was when the church was on Central Street, where the police station is now. Alfreda had come to North Bend from Nampa, Idaho, in 1962, to teach in the North Bend Junior High School, awaiting assignment from the American Baptist Mission Board to India as a missionary/teacher, and Jim as a forester for the Bureau of Land Management.
They learned early on in their lives that their plans are not necessarily God's plans, but they've found out that God's plans are best.
Jim was drafted into the U.S. Army in October 1964 (that was not their plan) just prior to their marriage Dec. 27 during the Vietnam War buildup. Jim volunteered to become a chaplain's assistant. After basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Miss., and chaplain's assistant school at Fort Dix, NJ., Jim was sent to Okinawa where he served as chaplain's assistant at a joint services security station. Alfreda joined Jim in mid-1965 where she served as missionary/teacher at the Okinawa Christian School, and also directed the choir at Torii Station Chapel, where Jim was chaplain's assistant.
Their first two years of marriage, 1964-1966, while in the military service, was like a wonderful honeymoon. In addition to the duties on the island of Okinawa (now Japan) they were able to travel to Taiwan and Japan to visit a number of different mission works and realized that God was actively working wherever they went. Jim was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army SP5 (E-5) chaplain's assistant on Oct. 5, 1966. During his service he received a National Defense Service Award, the Good Conduct Award and Expert Rifle Award.
Just prior to Jim's return from Okinawa on October 1966, Alfreda had returned early due to her pregnancy. Their first child, Cindy Louise, was stillborn (August). Again, that was not their plan but they believed God knew best. So they returned to Oregon where Alfreda got her teaching job back at the North Bend school, and Jim got his job back with the BLM, working on the Oxbow Fire Timber Salvage program.
They have both been active in Christian ministry all their lives and throughout their married life. Together they worked with the American Baptist Church of Oregon for over 30 years. At First Baptist Church, in Coos Bay, Jim served several years on the board of directors and the board of deacons, and also as church moderator. Jim started the official church newsletter, The Lifeline, in 1972, which is still published to this date. They both taught a Sunday school class and sang in the choir for some 33 years.
Jim served as moderator as the Umpqua Baptist Association for several years during which time he also was a board member of the American Churches of Oregon. He served on this board for 13 years, two years of which he served as president of the then 60 churches with a membership of 10,000. He also served as secretary/treasurer of the American Baptist Men of Oregon for 15 years, and then as president of the group for six years.
Alfreda's joy was being part of the American Baptist Women's Ministry. Her joy was and is encouraging world missions through such ministries as One Great Hour of Sharing, and the Africa Project Water Without Walking. Local mission's projects include: The Seaman Center, T.H.E House, the Mission and the Maslow project.
Alfreda, a licensed minister, has served as a volunteer hospital chaplain at the Bay Area Hospital, and, as of October 2014, has served in this capacity for 35 years. She is a graduate of the National Institute of Chaplaincy School and makes calls as requested by the hospital to anyone, day or night.
Jim and Alfreda have been active in area evangelistic campaigns from 1969 to 1987. Jim served as executive director for several theater showings for World Wide Pictures, the film branch of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Such movies included: For Pete Sake; Time to Run; The Hiding Place; Joni; The Prodical; Cry From the Mountain; and Caught. Alfreda served as secretary from the local organization. The showings involved some 100 area churches from Bookings to Florence.
Jim was executive director with the local showing of The Cross and the Switchblade, and The Great Liz, in 1972, and was chairperson of Bible distribution in 1973, which sought to place scriptures in each Coos Bay and North Bend home.
Jim and Alfreda built their own home under the Oregon Department of Veteran Affairs in 1969. They still live in that home after 45 years. Jim says they were on the move that year, balancing home construction with normal work, plus lots of church work, but they got it done in one year. Alfreda would plaint siding and trim in the uncompleted home while cooking and taking care of two children.
They enjoyed raising three children: James; Jon; Janice. During those years they did a lot of traveling and camping. They had six or so trips back and fourth across the country to Washington, D.C. during those years to visit Jim's brother Dale and family, and Alfreda's sister Joan and family. They spent many wonderful hours in the Smithsonian Institution.
Jim retired in 1997 from the BLM, having worked his entire career in Coos Bay. He was the district silviculturist from 1975 to 1997. During that time, he oversaw the planting of some 122,000 acres of forest land, with some 56 million trees.
Between 1981 and 2007, Jim took up backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail, one of the nation's scenic trails that extends from Mexico to Canada, a distance of 2,653 miles. Jim completed the trail with their two sons in 2007, having hiked approximately 100 miles per year for 26 years. Alfreda often served as being in charge of the "car shuttle" at both ends of the number of trail segments.
Conditioning for such a venture was derived from running. Jim has completed some 13 marathons in his running career. Alfreda took up speed walking while Jim ran.
Together, Jim and Alfreda have traveled to many different countries, including: Austria; Canada; Denmark; Egypt; England; Germany; Greece; Ireland; Israel; Japan; Jordan; Liechtenstein; Mexico; Okinawa (now Japan); Switzerland; Taiwan; Turkey; and Whales.
Genealogy is another hobby that has kept Jim and Alfreda busy. Since 1977 they have made an annual trip to Ft. Wayne, Ind., (where son Jon lives) to work in the Allen County Public Library which is the best public genealogy library in the U.S. Traveling by car, they were able to stop along the way in search of bits of family genealogy.
Since 1999 Jim and Alfreda have been active in the North Bend United Methodist Church, serving in leadership roles. They are both certified lay speakers and occasionally are called upon to do pulpit supply work. Over the years they have preached in several area churches.
For a number of years they have been active in the church choir. Southwestern Oregon Community College Symphonic Choir, the Prefontaine Run Committee and the Coos County Community Concert Association.