He grew up in Gary, Indiana, during the height of the Great Depression. His father was a foreman in the steel mill, his mother a schoolteacher before she married. He remembers hungry men coming to the door of his house asking for food, and his mother always found something to give them.

He started working and saving for school when he was 8 years old. He bought war bonds during World War II and cashed them in when it was time to go to college. He put himself through Northwestern University and three years of graduate school, graduating from Northwestern's Garrett Theological Seminary.

He loved to sing and was in lots of choirs growing up. He became president of the Methodist Youth Fellowship, where he launched and directed the Young People's Theatre. His church, City Church in Gary, had a 1,000-seat auditorium, complete with stage, professional lighting, and fly loft. He was in heaven, so to speak. Drama was his first love, all the world his stage.

He went to work for The United Methodist Church, rising to become the associate general secretary of the General Council on Finance and Administration. Along the way, he launched the church's longest-running radio broadcast, “The Word and Music.” It ran for 16 years.

He put this theatrical talents to work at RCMA conventions, writing scripts, hiring talent. He never lost sight, though, of the organization's founding mission, to provide the best possible education and networking for religious conference professionals. He pursued that mission with a kind of devotion that is hard to come by these days in the world of work and meetings.

Our friendship was forged 30 years ago, when we both happened to turn up on the same stage — a crowded reception room in Rome where we were the only people speaking English. We couldn't have been happier to discover a compatriot so far from home. We clutched our biscotti and jabbered, wondering what the heck the speaker was saying.

Our paths crossed again and again as the years went by, and always we laughed about the episode of the two Americans in Rome. And now DeWayne is 80 and retiring, and it's sad to say goodbye. Where did all those years go? I wish all the best to DeWayne and his wife, Donna, and many happy years to come as they move full-time to Texas.

You dared to dream, DeWayne, and your dream came true.