Bender-Wolfe Organ Scholarship

Bender-Wolfe Organ Scholarship

The Bender-Wolfe Organ Scholarship is the legacy of three generations of one family. The scholarship combines their love of music, their individual talents and their loyalty to California Lutheran University. It is also a symbol of their appreciation of the Lutheran tradition of beautiful sacred music and particularly organ music. Their gift also reflected their concern that organ performance might become a lost art due to the influence of technology and electronics on the musical arts.

Ardean Bender, the matriarch of the family, was proud of her Midwestern upbringing. She was always the gracious hostess, providing a warm welcome to anyone who came to her door. One of her strongest talents was in the kitchen where her cookie jar was always full and ready for an invasion. Most of all, she was proud of her family.

That pride in family included her daughter, Donna Bender Wolfe, who served as a regent for CLU for 12 years (1981-1994). The Bender-Wolfe family was active in Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Bakersfield. In fact, Donna served as church organist for many years as part of her service and stewardship.

It came as no surprise that Donna’s son Randel Wolfe chose to major in music when he enrolled at CLU. What might have been a surprise was how quickly he developed as an organist and the amazing dexterity of his playing. After earning his bachelor of arts degree from CLU, Randel ‘82 went on to earn a master’s in sacred music from Wittenberg University in Ohio and a double doctorate in organ performance and choral conducting from the University of Kansas. He is indisputably one of CLU’s finest alumni in the field of organ music today.

In creating this scholarship, Ardean and Donna hoped to encourage the study of organ and sacred music because of its importance in the rich Lutheran tradition but also because they wanted to support CLU’s music program. If no student meets the criteria of the Bender-Wolfe Organ Scholarship, a student studying classical music for keyboard may receive the award.