Robert Samuel Dendurent Autobiography

Robert Samuel Dendurent, born June 7, 1945

Twin to Benjamin Carl Dendurent

I've always been "proud" of the fact that of Sam and Lucie's four boys, I was the one who ended up having both Dad's and Grandpa's names. The family "verbal history" relates that the firstborn was to have my name. But, when Howard and Hal surprised everyone by being twins, the got the "uncle" names instead -- Lucie's brother Howard and Sam's brother Hod. When Ben and I came along, our folks didn't want to miss another chance to use Sam's name as well as Lucie's father's name, so I got it. Anyway, I like the other names too -- I just like mine better. :-) It didn't much matter to anyone else. After all, many of Dad's college students called any and all four of us boys "Little Sam.:

I enjoyed everywhere we lived as we were growing up, and we lived in a lot of different areas since Dad liked moving. (Read Howard and Hal's impressions of that!) After living in Topeka from age one or so until I was done with first grade, it seems like we always lived in towns of a size that allowed us kids to have full run of it. Lindsborg, Kansas was a small town -- just a few thousand people, a nice size for a second and third grader. Then, Pocatello, Idaho was just right for a boy in his waning days of elementary school. Finally, in 1957, we ended up in Pomona, California, where Junior and Senior High School took control of my life.

After I graduated (yes, I did) in 1963, I worked as a cable splicer for the telephone company for a few years. Then, in 1966, I began a special volunteer ministry, working with the Claremont Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, talking to others about God's Word. Although I had been active in this ministry since 1955, I now began to spend my energies so as to do it full-time rather than part-time. On occasion, a group of us young ones would pass by a machine shop in Pomona about the time the day shift was getting off work. In our youthful exuberance, we would declare, "You'd never catch ME working in a factory!"

Less than a year later, I was working in a factory in Brooklyn, New York! So much for youthful claims and declarations. But, my views about factories had changed -- I was invited to work as a volunteer at the world headquarters of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. The experience of working there was faith-strengthening and fulfilling. Over 5,000 volunteers working in a large facility in Brooklyn Heights print millions of Bibles and Bible literature each year for distribution throughout the world. For the first five months, I worked in "Job Press," the department that prints tracts, forms, and other items smaller than books or magazines. Then, one day the department overseer told me I was going to be transferred to another department, and that I would be training another "brother" to take my job. The "brother" turned out to be my fleshly brother, Ben. Ben had been accepted to work at the headquarters a few months earlier than I had. He previously was assigned as a waiter in the dining room. We had a fun two weeks actually working in the same department. Then, I was assigned to a construction crew that remodeled areas of the factory as needed. Thereafter, most of my activity was in the Construction Department or Carpentry Shop. This really turned out to be a blessing for me. Not only did I get to do some physical work that was really enjoyable, I was able to learn a few valuable trades. On June 5, 1971, after serving four years in Brooklyn as a single man, I left and married Kathleen Jones of LaVerne, California.

In August, 1971, after seven weeks of married life, Kathee and I began serving together at the Society's headquarters -- as volunteers assigned to a farm and printing plant located in Wallkill, New York, a very rural area just 90 miles from New York City. The country is a world apart from "the big city." I didn't even know before living in New York that it's the second-largest producing dairy state (after Wisconsin). I was assigned to a variety of construction projects, finally getting to use my telephone experience in the Electrical Department, where I eventually served as overseer for two years. Kathee worked in various departments, including the Garden, Cannery, Magazine Office, and Paint Shop. We enjoyed this life and life-style for nearly seven years, until 1978.

After leaving New York, we lived in New Mexico, California, and Texas, working part-time to support our continuing volunteer ministry with Jehovah's Witnesses. In September 1986, we were invited to enter a special field of full-time service for the Watchtower Society. We began serving in a traveling assignment -- visiting congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses in what is called a "circuit." There are about 475 circuits in the United States, among thousands worldwide. We have thoroughly enjoyed this avenue of service to God throughout the last 14 years. Each circuit has from 19-28 congregations with a total of 1600 to 2700 individuals. Every three years, we are transferred to a different locality, so we've become close friends with literally thousands of people. Not only that, we've had a nice variety of assignments. After three years in the area around Austin, Texas, we've successively served in south-central Oklahoma (including part of Oklahoma City), the northwest corner of Arkansas (The Ozarks), Alaska (the entire State AND Yukon Territory, Canada). Currently, we're in the area around Eugene, Oregon. In September, we'll begin our sixth assignment in Beaverton, Oregon, near Portland. What a privilege and treat to be able to see and visit so much of God's beautiful creation! I guess I inherited Dad's vagabond genes more that did Howard or Hal. Thus, even though this is a volunteer work and not a paid ministry, we've gained much more both spiritually and materially than anything that could be purchased with money. I can't think of any other way I would have rather spent the last 34 years.

While we've chosen to decline to start a family for the time being because of the nature of our volunteer work, we have confidence in God's promise that a New World of righteousness will soon replace this old world with its problems, sickness and death. In that paradise, we're confident that we will have plenty of children and that we'll be able to enjoy living with them and their children and their children's children forever.

We wish we could be with you at the Reunion, and we know you'll all have a wonderful time getting to know each other.

Bob Dendurent (April 2000).