A-Award: Arvid ’73 and Judy Mommsen ’65 Metcalf – Asbury University
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A-Award: Arvid ’73 and Judy Mommsen ’65 Metcalf

Serving Across Cultures and in the Cockpit

June 2, 2023

It started on a high school hayride. A-Award winner Arvid Metcalf ’73 recalls the blonde in the red sweatshirt who changed his life.

After going on three dates, the blonde Judy Mommsen ’65 Metcalf traveled to Asbury College for an event with the National Science Foundation.

“As a senior in high school, my pastor encouraged me to attend his alma mater,” Judy said. “After having a positive experience in Wilmore, I decided to come here.” 

The night after she graduated with a biology degree from Asbury, Judy hopped on a plane to Panama to teach science and Bible at a Methodist mission school. While Judy worked in Panama, Arvid served as a mechanic in the United States Navy. After teaching for one year, Judy returned to the U.S. and married her high school sweetheart.

The new couple bought a farm in Minneapolis and began selling fruits and vegetables. After a conversation with her uncle (a retired Navy pilot), Judy convinced Arvid to begin taking flying lessons, and the couple bought a small airplane for $1,300.

Arvid knew that to reach his dream of becoming a pilot, he would need a college degree.

“Our little girls had just turned one and two,” he said. “With two toddlers in tow, Judy and I traveled to Wilmore for me to finish my bachelor’s, which I had started at a state school.”

To Arvid’s dismay, upon graduating from Asbury, pilots saturated the aviation job market, so he changed his plan.

“Surprisingly, there was a shortage of plumbers in the Wilmore area,” he said. “So, I started Metcalf Mechanical Contractors in 1973 and had a team of plumbers working with me. Then in 1979, I returned to the aviation world.”

As a pilot for UPS, Arvid flew jets out of Lexington and served as a pilot instructor before he retired.

While Arvid flew jets, Judy served as a mother to their two daughters and as a volunteer “hall mom” for Asbury College students for 10 years.

“I enjoyed getting to know the girls by having them at our house,” she said, hosting Bible studies, class events, and gatherings. “When one of the girls had a birthday, I would make a cake, and we would celebrate.”

With an open-door policy at their home, Arvid and Judy estimate that they hosted hundreds of guests over the years, including parents visiting during Asbury’s spring preview events for prospective students.

In 1988, Judy began serving at Friendship International, a Lexington charity that “helps make the adjustment to the American way of life easier, to provide activities of interest, and to facilitate building cross-cultural friendships.”

By serving in various roles including president, Judy helped with efforts ranging from Bible studies and ESL classes to cooking and crocheting lessons.

“Before the pandemic, we had 100 women coming per week,” she said. “It is wonderful to meet ladies from various backgrounds. Many of them do not know Jesus, so it is a great opportunity to show Christ’s love.”

Judy also served on the Jessamine County Planning and Zoning Commission and Wilmore City Council.

Asbury University President Dr. Kevin Brown shares his thoughts about Arvid’s and Judy’s service: “The impact of their humble servanthood and generous hospitality are felt throughout Wilmore and around the world,” he said. “Their service, recognized and greatly appreciated by many, is distinctive.”

“God calls us to build bridges, not walls,” Arvid smiled and Judy agreed. “Since hearing about Asbury 62 years ago, I’m more optimistic about the future of Asbury under Dr. Brown’s leadership than ever before.” 

When asked about what she gained from her time at Asbury, Judy encourages current students: “Invest in those friendships, because they can be life-long friendships.”

Since 1946, the Asbury University Alumni Association has given Asbury’s highest alumni honor, the A-Award, to outstanding, loyal alumni who exemplify academic excellence and spiritual vitality. Each recipient has achieved distinction in their field of calling and has served for the benefit of others and for the glory of our Heavenly Father.