Red Ribbons chronicles stories from the life of the Reverend Dr. Robert Geller, long-time campus minister of the Geller Center (previously the United Campus Ministry). The book’s title grew out of his tendency to come in second. Its subtitle explains, “Coming in second is not all that bad.” He was salutatorian in his high school class, beaten out for the top spot by his girlfriend at the time. At Hastings College in Nebraska, he graduated second in his class, and at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, he had the second-best academic record.
“We reserve our hero worship for those who win, not for those who “almost” win,” Geller wrote. “By the time my formal schooling was over, the handwriting was on the wall. And the message had some undeniable advantages.”
Geller’s amazing memory makes for great stories. Geller recalls ministerial stints in rural Paw Paw, Illinois, West Virginia, the reason why he quit smoking, his decision to enter missionary work, his time at Oklahoma A and M, and at the University of Arizona, in Sierra Leone, and in 1962, his arrival as campus minister at Colorado State University. With his wife June and their four children, he moved into the campus ministry house at 629 Howes St., previously the home of the Geller Center. He served as the minister of the United Campus Ministry for 28 years, later renamed the Geller Center in honor of his legacy.