In a period of challenge and uncertainty, the Mission undergoes a changing of the guard. George Verley, another local boy who had grown up with the Mission, takes over leadership from Harold Mordh.
A selfless and energetic worker who devotes most of his life to strengthening the Union Gospel Mission and improving the lives of those in need, George Verley exemplifies a life of service. He leads the Mission through one of its most difficult periods while preparing the organization to engage a changing world in the 1980s and ’90s.
Growing up in a household with an abusive stepfather, Verley finds refuge as a 9-year-old boy at the Mission’s Boys’ Club. He goes on to hold numerous roles at the Mission during his life, from desk clerk to camp counselor to superintendent. George and his wife, Nancy, meet as employees there and their lives remain closely tied to the Mission and its goals.
Verley takes over as superintendent in 1974 at a time of stretched resources, dwindling financial support and the upheaval of urban renewal. He oversees the sensitive and lengthy negotiations that bring the Mission from Lowertown to its new home on University Avenue. Verley’s legacy includes evolving the Mission to meet emerging needs by greatly expanding education and career development services as well as programs for families and children. George Verley retires in 2002, passing away 12 years later at the age of 80.
Photos courtesy of the Union Gospel Mission and the Verley family.
Leaders of the Union Gospel Mission, 1902 to the present
- Rev. Everson R. MacKinney, Superintendent – 1902-1906
- B.R. Weimer, Superintendent – 1907
- Rev. Joseph Harkness, Superintendent – 1908-1909
- Dr. Peter MacFarlane, Superintendent – 1909-1956
- Harold Mordh, Executive Director – 1957-1974
- George Verley, Executive Director – 1974-2002
- William Kenneth “Ken” Cooper, Executive Director – 2003-2006
- Rev. Kenneth Peterson, Executive Director – 2007-2014
- Dr. Charles P. Morgan, CEO – 2014-2020
- Pam Axberg, Interim CEO – 2020