Messenger - Vol. 2, No. 3, Page 29
Summer 1993
Alumni Profile: From dentistry to ministry 

     It was 1948 and Homer Wellington Minus, Delaware '53, had settled into
Delaware State College in Dover, Del. The farmer's son from Magnolia, Del.,
was majoring in biology.
     He was in school to better himself-a desire instilled in him by his
grade-school teacher, Erma Gibbs Reese. As Minus recalls her advice: "'You
must have education and you must be able to do whatever you do better than
anybody else. You must do the very best job that you can.'"
     Growing up in rural Delaware in the 1930s, Minus had received other,
more negative messages from society. He had attended poorly equipped,
all-black schools; missed movies because of segregated theatres; and was
turned away from certain restaurants even through he was able to pay.
     Yet, as Minus said in a 1992 Temple University profile, his
self-esteem did not suffer, partly because his parents encouraged him to
join the Delaware People's League. This organization, he says, was
"dedicated to helping young blacks overcome the sense of smallness that was
imposed upon us." In 1950, a continuing desire to improve himself led to
Minus' decision to leave Delaware State and become a part of history, to do
something "meaningful."
     This African-American man, who would later earn degrees in both
dentistry and divinity, was one of 10 litigants in Parker vs. the
University of Delaware, which led to a state Chancery Court order to admit
qualified, black Delawareans to the previously all-white school.
     "I think we understood the gravity and significance of what we were
doing," Minus says of the case, which was heard by Vice Chancellor Collins
J. Seitz, Delaware '37, '62H.
     Along with 20 other black students, Minus matriculated at the
University, sitting in a classroom with white students for the first time.
He recalls that the white students accepted him. "It felt good when I
realized that these students had the same difficulties and same potential
as I did," he says.
     A medical technology major at Delaware, Minus says he had some "great
experiences" at the University. Newark resident George Wilson became his
father figure. "That man was just unbelievable," says Minus, in reverent
terms. "They knew him all over town and all over Wilmington. Really, he
could just about get anything he wanted.
     "Wilson made it his business to meet every black student who came to
the University of Delaware at that time and to make sure that if they had
any problem, any concern, any wish, that they would let him know. You know,
that is a big boost," Minus says.
     Following his graduation in 1953, Minus reported to U.S. Army basic
training at Camp Pickett, Va., and later was transferred to a research
position at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. After a
two-year stint in the Army, Minus enrolled in the dentistry program at
Temple University in Philadelphia, earning his degree in 1959. He and his
wife, Barbara, settled in southwest Philadelphia, where Minus worked until
1966, when he bought a Dover, Del., practice.
     Over time, he pondered a career change. "I knew for a couple of years
that I needed to be doing something different. I had no idea what that was.
I was searching."
     In 1984, on the 25th anniversary year of his dental degree, he
returned to school, entering Howard University in Washington, D.C., as a
divinity student. Minus' decision wasn't a total surprise. For 12 years, he
had hosted a weekly gospel music show, Sounds for Sunday, on a Dover radio
     However, Minus, a self-described loner and a man of few words, was
entering a profession that required speaking before large groups. So, the
move surprised his brother, also a pastor. "He couldn't believe that I was
going to be in the preaching business because he had never heard me say
anything," says Minus, laughing.
     Today, Minus, an ordained United Methodist pastor, shepherds three
small congregations in Bridgeville, Del., and he speaks enthusiastically
about a "life-enrichment" program for African-American boys that he and two
other clergy members lead. "We want to help them see themselves as
special," Minus says, "that they have a certain intrinsic value because
they're made in God's image. They are no less than anybody else.
     "In the black community, we have been talking about that for a long
time. We have to continue to find new ways to actualize it."
     At age 62, Minus is helping the younger generation prepare for
adulthood, much as Erma Gibbs Reese and George Wilson helped him and others
of his generation.
     Minus says it took many years for him to realize the value of
emphasizing the positive in people and situations. "I spent a lot of my
life looking on the negative side of things. I think I learned in my early
40s that the way to really get the most out of life is to put the most into
     Today, he says, he strives to care about other people. "If you
actually do that-sharing with other people what it is that God has given
you-that's life in its fullness."
                                   -Bill Clark, Delaware '82