John Dale Suderman was born 24 April 1944, in Hillsboro, Kansas, and grew up in the Ebenfeld Mennonite Brethren Church. His parents were Daniel M. and Edna Harder Suderman. Dale had two brothers, Art and Ron, and one sister, Elva. Dale graduated from Hillsboro High in 1961 and Tabor College in 1965. After one year of political science studies at Wichita State University, he served in the military, 1966-1968. He was a legal and supply clerk at Fort Leonard Wood and Fort Rucker before serving nine months in Saigon, February to October, 1968. After his military service, Dale worked as a social worker with the Aid to Dependent Children program in Wyandotte County for one year, 1968-69.
In 1970-71 he studied full time at Mennonite Biblical Seminary and then took a few courses each semester while he worked as associate director of the Partly Dave Coffeehouse in Elkhart, Indiana, 1970-1974. As part of this role Dale also counseled young adults during this period and served as a liaison for them to various community services. He returned to MBS full-time, 1974-1975, and in 1975 he received his MA in Religion. Following his graduation, Dale returned to Kansas as Associate Director of Mennonite Voluntary Service (GCMC), Newton, 1975-1979. He then became a community bookstore owner and manager (Logos of Chicago) in Chicago, 1979-1989.
Following his work for the bookstore, Dale served in a variety of roles as a counselor, first as a mental health counselor for two years in the psychiatric unit of the Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, 1990-1992. He then did similar work for the University Hospital, 1992-1995. From 1990 to 2000 he worked for the Federal Community Corrections program of the Salvation Army with inmates returning to community living. From 1995 to 2005 he was also working for the Harbor Light Freedom Center, an outpatient Clinic, providing addiction counseling. Still with the Salvation Army from 2005 to 2008, he worked with their Correctional Services Program providing individual and group therapy to clients under supervision of the US Probation Office.
Dale was very active in gay rights issues and in a number of community organizations, including as a board member of the Urban Life Center, 1980-1987. He taught courses in men’s studies at Garrett Evangelical Seminary in Evanston. He gave many presentations and authored a number of essays in various publications. He wrote a newspaper column for the Hillsboro newspapers. He had a major stroke in 2008 and moved back to Hillsboro. He passed away on January 5, 2020.
(This biographical statement prepared by John Thiessen, archivist at the Bethel College Library.)
Biography Date: May 2021
Mennonite Church USA | Gay Spirituality | Chicago | Illinois | Suderman, Dale
“Dale Suderman | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed October 15, 2021, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/dale-suderman.