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Apologetics Press :: Reason & Revelation
December 1999 - 19[12]:95

Personal Note—On the Death of a Mentor
by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

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[When I used this space in the May issue to write about the death of my mother, Mary Ruth Thompson, I noted that it is a rare occurrence for us to include matters of a personal nature in the pages of Reason & Revelation. It is almost unheard of for us to do so twice in one year. Nevertheless, I hope that after you read this month’s “Note from the Editor” you will understand why I am veering once again from our normal format.]

During the five decades that I have spent on this Earth, I have been influenced time and again in a positive fashion by so many wonderful people. At the risk of omitting some who should be included, several names spring to mind. My late father, Dr. Charles Thompson, was one of the smartest men I ever knew. His influence on my life has been inestimable, and my respect for him is immeasurable. The late Guy N. Woods, former editor of the Gospel Advocate, imparted to me through his writings a knowledge of and respect for God’s Word that has grown with each passing year. Wayne Jackson my co-laborer in the work of Apologetics Press for two decades, has taught me as much as any man still living. Dr. Russell Artist, former biology department chairman at David Lipscomb University, has devoted himself to being my friend and teacher.

Picture of Mary Ruth ThompsonBut in my “Note from the Editor” this month, I would like to pay a special tribute to a man who not only was a dear friend, but an esteemed mentor. His name was Bobby Duncan. On Saturday morning, December 4, Bobby died unexpectedly while serving as the preacher for the church of Christ in Adamsville, Alabama and as editor of Vigil, a monthly journal published by that congregation. Years earlier, he had been the minister of the Sixth Avenue church of Christ in Jasper, Alabama, where he also served as editor of Words of Truth, the weekly publication of that congregation.

When I was barely 25 years old and fresh out of graduate school at Texas A&M University, I sent an article to Words of Truth for possible publication. As the new editor, Bobby decided to run that article—my first ever put into print. Thus began a friendship that would last more than two decades.

When we were about to begin the work of Apologetics Press in 1979, I telephoned Bobby to ask for his advice. He gave much more than advice, however. He flew into action and in one weekend—due to his influential reputation—helped me raise almost half the necessary support. From that day to this, whenever I needed advice, counsel, or help, he always was there—listening patiently, encouraging gently, and correcting lovingly. Just days before he died, I sent him the rough draft of a series of articles on “The Origin, Nature, and Destiny of the Soul” that I plan to run in R&R in 2000. He returned the corrected manuscript with a hand-written note that said simply, “Great stuff. Thanks for letting me have a part.” Typical Bobby Duncan—always self-effacing, always grateful for any small part he could play in furthering the borders of the Lord’s kingdom. He taught me wisely, and loved me deeply. But not just me. Thousands came under his beneficent influence. When a pillar of this magnitude falls, the entire edifice shudders. His passing has left a void that will not be filled easily. As King David said of his friend Abner at his untimely death, “Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day?” (2 Samuel 3:38). We shall remember with fondness “a prince and a great man” who walked among us. Good-bye, my friend—until we meet again in the eternal city set foursquare “whose Builder and Maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).



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