Life and Education

If you would like to learn more about my family and education please view the pictures and narrative below.


My family lived in Albert Lea, Minnesota when I was born in 1959. I was the "late in life" one of four siblings – the youngest by almost 10 years. We migrated to Texas when I was about three months old and I grew up in the Austin area. Melvin Olaf Olson, my dad, was a carpenter and cabinet maker. My mom, Dorothy Mae Olson received her nursing license as an LVN when I was about ten. Mom, Dad and I square danced while I was in high school and it was on the dance floor that I met my husband of 36 years. Ken and I bought nine acres in Dripping Springs and built our dream log home – that was where we intended to both rear our children and retire.

While Ken worked for the high-tech computer industry in Austin I was a surgical technologist . Both my parents taught me if anything was worth doing, it was worth doing right and doing with excellence. It was my dad who instilled a love for people deep within my soul. I have literally seen him give the shirt off his back to someone who was in need. Just a couple of months before he died I promised him I would not forget. My mom taught me bulldog tenacity and to never quit.

Family, Part II
From the time I was 19 Ken and I did volunteer youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Austin. When we moved to Dripping Springs we began attending First Methodist. After a short time I began as a part-time youth director in addition to my "day job" in the operating room. Our children, Matthew and Erin were born in 1985 and 1986. Ken’s dad died shortly after Erin was born. Matthew was almost three, Erin was about 18 months old when I made my first trip to Appalachia to do mission work.

We left “Drippin’” in 1992 – A simple "laying out the fleece" seemed to put life all in order when in less than a week I was hired at First UMC, Euless as youth director. They provided a parsonage and a salary and I was awarded a full scholarship at Perkins. We packed up and moved. The kids and I left for the DFW metro – so that I could attend Perkins School of Theology at SMU. Ken stayed with the house and his work in Austin for an eternity of six months, until we were able to sell the house and he could locate work in the metro. 


The most important education I've received has not come from a textbook. Relationships with my family, through ministry, in crisis, and with people who are, in the words of Ron Hall & Denver Moore the, "Same Kind of Different as Me." I am forever thankful for these relationships.  I've had some of the formal kind of education as well.

Continuing Education – JFK Harvard Executive Education, Bowen Family Systems Theory, Conflict Intervention and more. Please see “Learning” under the “Interests” heading.

Doctor of Philosophy – Texas Woman’s University, 2008. Dissertation “Perspectives of Strength: Female Elders in United Methodist Ministry.”

Masters of Divinity – Perkins School of Theology at SMU, 1997.

Undergraduate Degree – St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. Bachelors of Liberal Arts in English Writing. Outstanding graduate of the year in St. Edward’s New College, 1992. Summa Cum Laude.



© 2012 Virginia O. Bassford

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Erin Bassford 2004