Frank Van Dyke
Biographical Sketch On The Life Of Frank Van Dyke
Frank Van Dyke was born to Mr. and Mrs. Willie Homer Van Dyke October 27, 1914, at Cairo, near Alamo, Tennessee. He attended the public schools of Crockett County, graduating from the Bells High School as Salutatorian in 1933. He graduated from Freed-Hardeman College as Valedictorian of the class of 1937. He attended Union University at Jackson, Tennessee, for one year and received the B.A. degree from Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Indiana, in 1938, graduating Cum Laude. While attending Freed-Hardeman College, Van Dyke was president of his class both years and a member of the debating team both years. He, likewise, was a member of the debating team at Wabash, being selected at the close of the year as an honorary member of All-College Debate Squad and received a cash award. He was elected to membership in Tau Kappa Alpha, a national honorary forensic society. He received a certificate in Practical Business Administration from the American Technical Society, Chicago, Illinois. He attended Abilene Christian College and received the M.A. Degree. He was given the opportunity to conduct the Baccalaureate Service at his graduation, an honor that had never been given to a student.
On April 21, 1940, he married Miss Julia White. To this union, two boys were born, Willie Frank Van Dyke and Richard Ervin Van Dyke.
Van Dyke was one of the outstanding preachers of his day. He began preaching at the age of 15. His first sermon was preached at the Normal Church of Christ in Memphis, Tennessee. He did local work with churches in Humboldt, Tennessee; Crawfordsville, Indiana; Haleyville, Alabama; Jackson, Tennessee; and Albuquerque, New Mexico. He held gospel meetings in Alabama, California, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
While at Freed-Hardeman College, Van Dyke chaired the Bible Department from 1950-1962. During this time, he wielded a tremendous influence for good and instruction for a practical and wide knowledge of the Bible to prepare these young men to preach the gospel as they went out into various areas as servants of Christ.
Van Dyke died September 22, 1963, at Henderson, Tennessee. He was survived by his wife, Julia; two sons, Willie Frank and Richard Ervin; and by two sisters, Mrs. Mary Lou Welch and Mrs. Melba Miller, both of whom reside in Memphis, Tennessee.
Funeral service was under the direction of Casey Funeral Home in the Church of Christ in Henderson. H.A. Dixon, President of Freed-Hardeman College, preached the funeral sermon. Van Dyke's body was laid to rest in Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Henderson. The Lord will continue to bless many lives through the influence of this great, good and godly man.
--From In Memoriam, by Gussie Lambert, Shreveport, LA, pages 274,275
Frank Van Dyke
Frank Van Dyke was born on October 27, 1914, at Cairo, near Alamo, Tennessee. Having reached the age of forty-eight, he died in the Western State Hospital (Bolivar) on September 22, 1963. He was baptized by T. G. Curd around 1928.
He was married to Julia Myrtle White on March 21, 1940. Two sons were born to this union. Willie Frank is vice president of an insurance and financial agency in Dallas. He has two daughters, Alison and Andrea. Richard is the assistant minister of the Franklin, KY, church of Christ. His wife is Nanette Powell; their children are Stephanie and Frank Powell. Both his brother, Joe Cooke Van Dyke. Sr., and his nephew, Joe Cooke Van Dyke, Jr., have served as effective ministers among churches of Christ.
Brother Van Dyke spent several years in preparation for his work. He attended Freed-Hardeman College, Union University, Wabash College (BA), and Abilene Christian College (MA). His thesis at Abilene was A Critical Analysis of the Mystery Revealed to Paul. His fellow classmates at Abilene asked him to give the graduation address.
He served as the local minister of several congregations. These included the Normal congregation in Memphis; Humboldt, TN; Crawfordsville. IN; Haleyville, AL; Highland in Jackson, TN; and Albuquerque. NM.
His gospel meeting engagements took him over many miles. These included the following: Madison, WI: Flint, MI; Parkersburg, WVA; Roanoke, VA; St. Louis, MO; Owensboro, KY; Cleburne and Ft. Worth, TX; Drew and Ripley, MS; Bessemer and Mobile, AL; and Bethany, Memphis, and Union City, TN.
His writing has served the brotherhood well. From October 18, 1945, to August 29, 1946, he wrote a series of three articles on the signs of Mark 16. These were published in the Gospel Advocate. He also wrote articles which ranged from "The Bible in Christian Education" to "Contrasts Between Christianity and the Cults." Books which he penned were Studies in Hebrews and Is Instrumental Music Scriptural? E. Claude Gardner edited the book entitled Frank Van Dyke's Sermons.
Frank Van Dyke will long be remembered for writing the words for the FHC college song. Kelley B. Doyle wrote the music.
To Thee, Our F-H C
To thee our dearest
F. H.C. we pledge our
fond and cheerful memories, of happy college days,
To thee our youthful lives we bring, for guidance, help and
-Dowell Flatt, 1991 Freed-Hardeman Lectures, pages 118,119
A Recent Conversation
It was the the pleasure of your web editor to engage in a phone call with Willie Frank "Bill" Van Dyke, the son of Frank Van Dyke. Bill is a businessman who lives in the Dallas, Texas. Initially the call was to share some sad news at that passing of Bill's brother, Richard Van Dyke, July 17, 2011. Richard had been a long-time minister of the gospel and great song leader.
Richard was an accomplished musician. When he finished his college work, he was hired to be the band director at Goodpasture High School in Nashville. He helped to develop one of the greatest bands in the school's history. While many things might be recalled as successes, one that stands out was an event brought about through one of his students. Rosanne Cash, the daughter of Johnny Cash, was at Goodpasture, and a member of the high school band. The band was so good, that Van Dyke was able to get Johnny Cash to come to the campus, and cut an album with the Goodpasture Band accompanying him. The album was a great success. While under Van Dyke's leadership the band was able to play at The White House in Washington D.C. They played at an event in the Rose Garden for the wife and daughter of former president, Jimmy Carter. While working in Kentucky for number of years, he participated in the editing of a song book that was used by many churches.
For several years he served as one of the ministers of the Donelson church near Nashville. He was a beloved friend to all who worked with him. Sadly, a few years ago he was diagnosed with the disease, Frontotemporal Dementia. The disease brings about hardening in the frontal lobe region of the brain. Even trips to the Mayo Clinic in Florida brought little positive results. In 2007, he was forced to give up his position at Donelson, and entered an assisted living facility. Having been born August 3, 1949, he was just shy of his 62nd birthday when he passed. He determined long before that he would dedicate his body to science in hopes of finding a cure to the terrible disease that was taking his life.
As it was further explained to me, the same disease that afflicted Bill's brother, is also ultimately what took the life of his father, Frank Van Dyke at the young age of 49. He had been one of the brightest minds in the brotherhood until forgetfulness and dementia led to his quick demise September 22, 1963. When he passed, an autopsy was performed, showing a hardening of the frontal lobes of the brain. At the time, no-one knew what it was called, much less that it would rise again to take the life of his son, Richard.
After commiserating with Bill for a time, the conversation turned to brighter thoughts of happier days. We spoke of his father, and the love and respect he held among those in the church far and wide. He talked some of his days growing up around the campus of Freed-Hardeman University, then College, in the 1950s. We discussed brother Frank's presence around the campus, and in the pulpit in different places. He recalled his father's quick wit, and great passion for teaching. He explained that as a child, his remembered his father being greatly dedicated to his work, whether in the classroom, or in the pulpit. He was always ready to give a defense of his beliefs.
Those who knew Frank Van Dyke will recall that he walked with a limp, and had a withered right arm. This was the result of a polio attack in his childhood. Bill said that he was abolutely amazed at his father's abilities with his left hand. He said that his dad did not play a lot of sports with the boys, like basketball and the like. But he was tough. Recalling times when his dad would get out with the boys in the back yard for a little pitch with baseball, one sure needed to have a good mit if they were going to play catch with his dad, for he was fast and accurate with his left hand.
Bill said that his dad was an impeccable dresser. He had his shirts and suits dry-cleaned, and he always looked very well kept. He was always amazed when he watched his dad tie one of the best knots in his tie as any he had ever seen, with only his left hand.
Incidentally, in the course of our conversation, brother Van Dyke explained how he came about being called Bill. Apparently, he shared the same name with W.A. "Willie" Bradfield. Everyone knew Willie Bradfield. One day when Willie Frank Van Dyke was talking to a friend on campus, brother Bradfield walked up, and started talking with them. During the conversation, the preacher turned to Willie and said, "Bill, what do you think about . . . ?" This was the first time he had been called Bill. The name stuck, and he has been called Bill ever since.
Prodding for further things he recalled, Bill spoke of his father's quick wit. He explained that his father was not a tall man, only five feet, four inches in height. On one occasion when Frank Van Dyke was speaking out in Texas on a lecture forum, that he was introduced by a great tall Texan. In the course of his introduction he made somewhat of disparaging remark, when he asked the smaller statured brother, "How's the weather down there?" When Van Dyke was finally given the lecturn, he looked at the crowd and said, "Brethren, I feel like a dime, standing next to a nickel!" The audience roared with laughter. Then he was quickly into more serious matters.
Another recollection of his dad had to do with an occasion when he was in a question and answer session during one of the special classes at Freed-Hardeman. He was addressing an issue, when a student approached with a refuting comment. The student began by saying, "Now brother Van Dyke, I may be all washed up here, but I've got to say . . ." Finishing his comments, Van Dyke retorted, "As soon as Bro. ________ dries out, we'll take more questions!"
On a more serious note, Bill gave an update on his mother. Sister Julia Van Dyke lived well into her nineties. She lived a number of her retirement years in a church operated retirement home in Nashville. When she died, April 23, 2007, just shy of her 95th birthday, she gave her body to science, thus explaining the single grave of Frank Van Dyke in Henderson's Chester County Memorial Gardens.
Many thanks to Bill Van Dyke for calling on August 1, 2011. We extend our condolences to the Van Dyke family in the loss of Richard Van Dyke. As he enters into the "land beyond so fair and bright," heaven becomes a little sweeter for those who are left behind.
Directions To The Grave
Frank Van Dyke was buried in the Chester Co. Memory Gardens Cemetery in Henderson, Tennessee. The cemetery is located on Hwy 45 south of Henderson about 2 miles. Enter the cemetery to the west and as you enter the cemetery, the grave is in the first section on the left hand side of the drive. This is still a reasonably new cemetery, but at the time I was there the grave was located six rows back from the highway and three sections in from the drive.