For these donors, devotion to parents inspired support of retired pastors and those in need


Wanda Bunce (1941 – 2021) and Richard Bunce (1945 – 2021)
lived lives of faith, family and generosity.

Every December Wanda and Richard Bunce’s home transformed into a North Pole.

Christmas was a “huge deal,” says their niece, Joy Bennett. They gave 200 – 300 gifts each holiday to nieces and nephews — and their children and grandchildren. The more than two dozen nieces and nephews received a different piece of Lenox Christmas dishware; their children got gifts like fun socks or earrings, and their grandchildren delighted in Beanie Babies and other such toys. No matter the number of gifts on the list, there was always thought behind them. They were always personal, Joy says.

Wanda purchased the gifts and boxed them; Richard wrapped them. It was his “Uncle” job. It was also his job to take them to UPS, wagon by wagon, for shipping. This “North Pole operation” showcased major themes of Wanda’s and Richard’s lives — family, caring, thoughtfulness and generosity, says Vivian Zaborowski, Wanda’s sister.

Thanks to thoughtful planning, a generous bequest to American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) from Wanda’s and Richard’s estate ensures their caring will keep on helping others through grants to retired ministers and those in need.

Wanda’s father, the Rev. Richard Mikolon, an American Baptist pastor, inspired the Bunce’s gift. Mikolon ministered to Polish immigrant groups in Buffalo, N.Y., Erie, Pa., and Plainfield, N.J. Wanda remembered lean times as a child, and she knew her parents’ financial insecurity extended into retirement.

As the youngest child, she felt a great responsibility for taking care of her mother and father during their later years. She knew that the American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) and Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board (MMBB) annual joint project — the Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering (RMMO) — provided a “Thank You” check every year to her father that helped her parents get by.

Wanda was passionate about the support her father got from RMMO, says Joy: “And she cared about other ministers and missionaries, too.” By leaving the bequest to ABHMS, Wanda and Richard will help retired American Baptist pastors, of course, but also broaden the reach of their legacy to include those in the American Baptist family who are in need, but may not be clergy.

This bequest to the greater American Baptist family extended Wanda’s and Richard’s devotion to their own family. Richard, who had only one brother and no nieces or nephews, inherited Wanda’s brood when they married. All of Wanda’s family loved him dearly. He was crazy about them; he felt close to them, and they felt close to him, says Vivian.

Faith and love of the Lord were integral to Wanda’s and Richard’s lives. They supported a number of churches they attended, including the American Baptist congregation, Drexel Hill Baptist Church. For 20 years, after Richard’s employer moved to Florida and Wanda remained in her job near Philadelphia, the couple prayed together by phone each morning and every evening before bedtime during those long-distance relationship years. They were married more than four decades.

Wanda and Richard shared a passion for travel. Wanda fell in love with travel at 18 when she went to an American Baptist youth conference in Beirut, Lebanon. That trip taught her the incalculable educational value of experiencing different cultures and peoples. A favorite destination of the couple was Hawaii, where they honeymooned and returned several more times. Devotees of travel by cruise liner, they visited far-flung sites like the South China Sea, Cambodia and many more.

Richard built his career as a mechanical engineer at Westinghouse and, later, at Siemens. He was a leader in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for decades. Wanda retired from Erie Insurance after a 45-year career; she was one of the founding employees of the company’s Philadelphia office.

Their legacy gift to ABHMS will continue Wanda’s and Richard’s spirit of generosity and the gift-giving tradition established during their lifetimes.

“They had such big hearts,” says Joy.