FUMC Biographies

Margot Chappel

My name is Margot Ann Chappel. I was born in a small village in Malaysia called Kuala Lipis. My father was doing medical mission work there. Babies in Malaysia were dying from dysentery because many mothers believed that formula was better for babies than their own breast milk. The water was not sterile and the formula was often mixed at half strength to save money. My mother would breastfeed me outside of the clinic while my father worked so that families in the Malaysian culture would see a Westerner breastfeeding.

Before my sisters were born, we returned to the U.S.A. I was 18 months old. We lived in Boston for a year before moving to Chicago, which is where I started school. We moved to Reno in 1974, just before I started 6th grade. I've lived here ever since, with a short stint in Southern California for six months in my early 20s.

I have worked in the field of early childhood education since high school. I took my first child development course as a junior in high school. Teaching young children allowed me to use all of my skills and talents. I had a great time doing it and it was meaningful, fulfilling work! I am still in the same field, serving as Director of Head Start Collaboration and Early Childhood Systems for Nevada. However, the last time I made my living working directly with young children was 1997. Volunteering to teach Sunday school has helped keep me in touch with kids. Now that I have two grandchildren, I have a renewed passion for making things better for kids in Nevada! For fun, I like to read good books, walk, play with my dog Rowan, do yoga, but mostly spend time with my family.

The year after we moved to Reno, my family started attending FUMC. It has been my home church since! I went through confirmation and MYF here. My children attended Sunday school, went through confirmation and MYF here as well. Through those years, there have been four generations of my family sitting in the pews at times. In the 1970s, I was in the youngest generation. Now my grandchildren are in the youngest generation. I am serving on the FUMC Foundation board so I can help sustain the stability of FUMC for generations to come!


Debbie Smith

Hello. My name is Debbie Smith. I am a new member of FUMC Foundation, since January 2015. I was born at Chanute AFB in Illinois. My father was in the military so we moved often in my early years. After Dad retired we settled in Southern California. I moved to Reno when I got married to David forty years ago. We joined FUMC in the late 1980s. I taught Sunday School when my children were young and I served on the Education Committee. David and I were ushers for several years. I worked for the WCSD for 30 years and retired about 6 years ago. My hobbies are dancing and going to baseball games. My goal for FUMC is to be a vibrant and growing church.


Kay Greene, Secretary

I was born in a logging camp in western Oregon and attended school in many communities in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. I went to a total of twelve schools, including three high schools. After graduating from Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, I earned a graduate degree from the University of Oregon in Eugene.

I came to Reno in 1990 to take the position of Director of Purchasing for the Washoe County School District. Ira and I became members of FUMC in 1991. I was asked to become part of the Foundation Board about 2 months ago. I enjoy a variety of activities including reading, going to the Alf Sorensen pool, quilting, playing with my dog and going to church, not necessarily in that order!

What I would like to see for future generations at FUMC are the love of God, companionship and learning about the message of Jesus.

I enjoy all my friends at FUMC and in the community and look forward to sharing time with them.

  Fritz Grupe

I was born in New York City and lived there or in Suffern, New York through high school. I graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz with a bachelor's and a master's degree in science education. I received a doctorate in higher education administration from the State University of New York at Albany. Evelyn and I have been in Reno since 1982. I've held a variety of positions that included being the Executive Director of the Associated Colleges of the St. Lawrence Valley, Director of Campus Computing at UNR. I retired from teaching as a full professor and chair of the Accounting and Information Systems Department at UNR. Since retirement I have been working part time as a consultant to Townsend Communications in Kansas City in the development of a National Science Foundation funded student advisement project. Evelyn and I joined RFUMC in 1999. I've been on the Foundation Board since January 2015. Photography, occasional bird watching and reading are my past times. Along with many others, I'd like to see that RFUMC continues to be a vibrant church filled with open minded, open hearted congregants.


Denise Hedrick, President

Denise Hedrick was born and raised in Houston, Texas, attending Robert E. Lee High School and then receiving her undergraduate degree in Child Development and Family Relations from Texas Tech University. She later attended graduate school at the University of Nevada Reno, where she earned a master's degree in Counseling and Educational Psychology.

Denise and Wyatt, her husband of 37 years, moved with their family to northern Nevada in 1988, living in the Virginia highlands for 11 years before moving to southwest Reno. She was a counselor at Hug High School for many years before becoming the Executive Director of the Education Alliance of Washoe County. This non-profit group, which primarily supports the Washoe County School District, is a public private advocate for primary, secondary and tertiary education.

Denise and Wyatt have attended Reno First Church for 23 years; both of their children were raised in the church. Denise hopes that our church passes on our traditional values as well as continuing the legacy of fellowship to future generations of church members. She also hopes that our beautiful church building continues to be well maintained. Denise has been a member of the Foundation board for 10 months.

In addition to spending time with their 2 grandchildren, she and Wyatt also love sailing in San Francisco.


John Helmreich


Reverend Kris Marshall


Pat Miller, Vice President

I'm an Easterner – born and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch country, the daughter of farmers and local/state politicians. When a local physician offered to help me find the money to go to college, I agreed to attend Kent State University in Ohio, where Iearned my undergraduate degree in homemaking and later Wilkes University in Wilkes­Barre when I earned a Master's Degree. Always interested in English and journalism, I've taught at the high school, community college, and university level off and on over my professional life, currently as an adjunct at TMCC and UNR. My professional life has also included some 30 years' work in educational television at PBS stations,from 1994 – 2011 at KNPB Channel 5 in Reno,
where I served as Vice­President for Programming, Promotion, Education, and Outreach. Thanks to my KNPB colleague Ron Smith, I came to FUM through the choir door about 10 years ago. My earliest memory of singing in church was when I was about 4 years old, and I've been doing it ever since. About 3 years ago at Homecoming, I inquired about the FUM Foundation, and soon found myself on its board. Singing is my recreation and my lifeline, currently with Bella Voce women's ensemble, the Reno Philharmonic Chorus, and, of course, the FUM chancel choir. FUM is my church home? I love its social mission and its passion for reconciliation and acceptance. I love its downtown location and attitude. I hope these attributes are protected and preserved by and forfuture generations of FUM members.


 Barbara Nachtsheim

Also new to the Foundation Board, Barbara has been a member of our church since 2006. She was born and raised in Reno, earned a BA in Fitness Management and Nutrition from UNR and received her teaching certification from Sierra Nevada College.

She taught school for 7 years, but now does some substitute teaching in the school district. She feels extremely fortunate to be able to focus on her main job as mom to Anna and Eric. She and her family enjoy snow skiing and going to Lake Almanor. She also likes to takes walks with their dog Boise, read and watch her children play both sports and musical instruments.

In our church's service to future generations, she hopes that "new members enjoy the congregation and church as much as we have and feel as welcomed as we did when we started looking for" a church home.


Donna Quante, Treasurer

 I was born and raised in East St. Louis, Illinois, which is just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri. I attended grade school and high school in Illinois and received a BS in Business Administration from the University of Missouri. I worked for the telephone company my entire career in both the Accounting and Regulatory Departments. I started with Southwestern Bell in St. Louis, did a tour at AT&T Headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey, went to Dallas, Texas for a short time and then requested a transfer to Reno in late 1998. In Reno I was the Director of Regulatory Operations until I retired from SBC (now AT&T) in June of 2000 after 34 years of service.

I started attending FUMC in late 2001 (after 9/11) and became a member in February, 2002. I am a new member of the Foundation and will assume the job of Treasurer. For hobbies I enjoy downhill skiing, hiking, reading, movies, fine dining and traveling with old friends from grade school, high school, college and work.


In addition to being the Foundation Treasurer, I am involved in other church activities including: FUMC Financial Secretary, Church Council, Stewardship Committee, Finance Committee, Mission Team, Usher Team, Simplicity, Book Group. What I would like to see passed along to future generations at FUMC is a vibrant and active congregation in the current church building. We need to attract and keep younger families who are willing to get involved in church leadership and support the church financially.


Gary Ray

I was born in Corpus Christi, Texas and grew up in San Diego, Monterey and Santa Rosa, California. I have a degree in Commercial Outdoor Recreation from Sacramento State and have lived in Reno for 24 years. I've been a member of Reno FUMC for the last 20 years, but have only served on the Foundation Board for the past year.

Currently, I'm the Executive Director for Job Corps. My wife Jackie and I have two children, Kyle and Katie. I love fishing, camping, reading, cooking and golf. I also have a motorcycle and love backpacking and making music with friends.

I would love to see our church further develop an open and accepting commitment to caring for others and pass this open attitude on to future generations of FUMC members.

Ron Smith

Ronwas born in Salinas, CA, but raised in San Francisco, graduating from Mission High School, and earning two degrees at San Francisco State. He has lived in Reno for 52 years, retiring as vice president for development & marketing at KNPB Public Television. Ron joined Reno First United Methodist Church in 1981, sings in the choir, served as chairman of the Administrative Board for eight years, and now serves on the Foundation Board of Trustees since 2012.

The Foundation is working to insure that the future of First Church will include a strong financial foundation through bequests from members' wills and trusts. Reno First Church is an important part of my life and a wonderful shared experience with my wife of 31 years, Pat.


Sue Smith

I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. My parents named me Jenni-Sue, but then called me Susie. Therefore I have been known as Sue throughout my life. I have a younger sister. My father was an exploration geologist, so we moved quite a bit, but most of my childhood was in Reno, because we always moved back here. When we were here, we always attended First United Methodist Church.

I graduated from UNR, with a degree in Social Services. I currently work as a commercial real estate broker and own my own company, Argent Commercial Real Estate. I served a term on the Reno City Council from 1987-1991.
My husband, Jim, and I were married at FUMC in 1975. While we lived in Reno, we went to church here, but Jim attended law school in Sacramento, then we moved to Las Vegas.

When we returned to Reno we attended St. Paul's Methodist Church, where we were very active. We then went to South Reno Methodist Church, until we moved back to FUMC when we discovered that Judith was the new minister. We have found that we enjoy the music program at FUMC and the wonderful people who attend this church. My oldest daughter and her husband were married at FUMC eight years ago.

We have three children, 2 daughters and a son. My daughter Rebecca attends FUMC with her husband and their 3 sons Johnny, Austin and Benjamin.

Jim and I are very active in the Historic Reno Preservation Society, and so of course we love the building that houses FUMC. It is expensive to maintain an old building, but very worthwhile. We would like to be sure that the building, which is recognized throughout our community as a treasure, continues to be maintained. Hopefully our work through the Foundation will be able to accomplish this and many other things.

I have many hobbies, including gardening, reading, camping, hiking and kayaking. We also love to gather with family and friends and cooking. Our kids and grandkids bring us tons of joy. Our lives are very blessed.


Nancy Wong, Past President

I was the first Chinese girl born in Boulder City, Nevada and the oldest of four. In the spring of 1967, my dad was transferred to the US Bureau of Mines in Reno. The first church we attended was Reno FUMC; while we were eating lunch, Dr. Orman Roberts, who was the pastor, came over to welcome us to Reno. I graduated from Reno High, UNR and University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.

I have an accounting degree and have been a Nevada lawyer since 1982. Currently I am the supervising attorney for the Carson City Legal Section of the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations. We regulate workers' compensation matters, prosecute OSHA violations, and oversee Mine Safety and Training.

I was confirmed at Reno FUMC in 1968 and have been active ever since!

I've been on the FUMC Foundation Board since 2008 (Morton, my dad, was on the Foundation in the 90s). I became president in 2012.

One of my hobbies is making cards using rubber stamps and ink; my favorite stamp company is A|Muse Studio. Jay teases and says I only have to make another 8,000 cards to 'break even,' but I figure if I charge $50/hour for my time, my break-even point is a lot quicker! Since Alycia's attending Willamette University, she gets a lot of expensive "snail mail" cards!

I also enjoy cooking for others, which is probably why I coordinate the Casserole Brigade and Drop in the Bucket. I like "doing" and have been on five mission trips to New Orleans, North Carolina, and Montague, California. I've also headed up four "mini-mission" teams to Fernley and North San Juan, California. When I was the MYF leader in the 1980's, I chaperoned youth on three Sierra Service Project missions on California Indian reservations.

I usually have at least one pro bono case going at any one time. Since Jay and I don't watch TV, we are voracious readers and hope to travel to many of the places about which we have read.

What about First Church do you hope to see passed along to future generations?

FUMC's credo found in Micah 6:8 (seeking kindness, doing justice, and walking humbly with God) just about sums it up! My dream is for the Foundation to be able to raise a million dollars in the next 2 ½ years. Just think . . . if the economy improves so that the Foundation earned a 2% APR return on investment, a million dollar corpus would produce $20,000 in interest. . . . To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, "Oh the places we'll go!"