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NNU Alum and Honorary Degree Recipient Leaves Legacy of Support

June 6, 2019

Supporter, alumni and friend of Northwest Nazarene University, Jerry Lee Caven, went to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on May 24. He passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 82.

Jerry was born January 4, 1937, in Sun Valley, California, the son of Robert and Daisy (Miller) Caven. He married the love of his life, Muriel Joan Parsons on September 6, 1958, in Nampa, Idaho. Jerry and Muriel have five children, 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Graduating from NNC in 1959, Caven started his professional career as a junior-high science teacher. In search of a second job to support his family, he answered a newspaper help ad looking for someone to own and operate a failing McDonalds restaurant in Boise. In 1965 he was given the failing restaurant and quickly made it profitable, and then acquired five additional McDonald’s franchises in the following 18 months. As business grew, Caven opened two other highly successful restaurant chains, grew his real estate holdings and development interests, and founded the American Bank of Commerce and The Idaho Banking Company. In recent years, he owned a significant ranch and farming enterprise in Fairfield, Idaho, which was his favorite business endeavor.

As philanthropists, Jerry and Muriel Caven have supported ministry work in Central America, South Asia, Africa and the United States. They were primary supporters in Campus Crusade’s India 400, an initiative to introduce the Jesus Film in the 400 largest cities in India. Additionally, they distributed tens-of-thousands EvangeCubes into unreached areas, and built over 80 ministry centers as well as community centers that house schools, hospitals, churches and ministry training facilities around the world.

In 2017, Northwest Nazarene University conferred the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters on Jerry in recognition of his service to the Lord and to his community. His life personified the mission and values of NNU as he intentionally integrated his Christian faith into all aspects of his life as a restauranteur, real estate developer, banker, rancher, churchman and missionary.

“Jerry and Muriel have been generous supporters of NNU in myriad ways both seen and unseen for decades,” said Vice President for External Relations, Mark Wheeler. “Their support of NNU has and continues to affect the direction and impact NNU is having on the lives of our students and those whom they come in contact with. NNU is a materially different place because Jerry and Muriel chose to partner with us.”

His family will remember him for his great determination to create, develop and share the gifts and talents given to him by God and the passion to do so until the very end of his life. Jerry has left a legacy of service to his family and to God. He is a treasured husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and friend. He was deeply loved and will be greatly missed.

Memorials may be given to Precept Ministries Int'l – 7324 Noah Reid Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421, or Bethesda Ministries Orphanage and Training Center in India via The Jerry and Muriel Caven Foundation - 760 E King St, Suite 105, Meridian, ID 83642.

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