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Acclaimed preacher Frank Pollard dies

SAN ANSELMO, Calif. (BP)–Frank Pollard, longtime preacher on the former “Baptist Hour” radio broadcast and president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary from 1983-86, died Nov. 30 at his home in San Anselmo, Calif., in the San Francisco area.

Pollard, 74, had suffered from Parkinson’s disease in recent years, according to news reports.

As Golden Gate’s fifth president, Pollard led in the redevelopment of the Northern California campus master plan and in the seminary’s enrollment gains. He also was instrumental in the relocation of the Southern California campus to Brea, where it continues today. He left GGBTS in 1986 to return as pastor of First Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss., where he previously had served from 1974-80. Pollard retired from First Baptist in January 2002.

“Dr. Pollard was a great advocate for Golden Gate,” said Jeff Iorg, Golden Gate’s current president. “I appreciated his personal support and encouragement when I became president. He had recently relocated to California and reconnected with the seminary community. We will miss him.”

Included in his 40-plus years in the ministry were the presidency of the Mississippi Baptist Convention from 2002-04 and his selection by Time magazine in 1979 as one of the seven leading Protestant preachers in America.

Pollard was one of six nominees for president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1980, finishing second to Bailey Smith, who received 52 percent of the vote while Pollard received 21 percent.

He was the weekly voice of “The Baptist Hour” for more than 20 years, beginning in 1976, and also was featured on a TV version of the program and on another TV program, “At Home with the Bible,” produced by the former SBC Radio and Television Commission.

“Frank was one of the most outstanding preachers I had the privilege of hearing,” said William O. Crews, who followed Pollard as GGBTS president. “Because of his national leadership as preacher for the Baptist Hour for many years, he brought national attention to Golden Gate. Frank was a close personal friend, great encourager to me while I served as president and a strong supporter of the seminary.”

Pollard was a native of Olney, Texas, and a graduate of Texas A&M University. He later earned a divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and a doctor of ministry degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Golden Gate honored Pollard with a distinguished service award in 1993.

According to The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., Pollard and his wife Jane moved to the San Francisco area several months ago to be near their daughter, Suzanne Kelly, her husband Greg and their young daughter, Elizabeth Kelly.

William H. Perkins Jr., editor of the Mississippi Baptist Record, described Pollard as “a gentle spirit whose message carried tremendous weight.”

“And he never yelled at me on Sundays, which is remarkable to me because he was always so powerful,” Perkins told The Clarion-Ledger. “He could recite poetry at length, word for word in his sermons. He even recited Dr. Seuss once, about a man who comes to a fork in the road, tries to go both ways at once and splits his pants. Everyone knew exactly what he meant: You have to make choices in life.

“He just loved to preach,” Perkins said. “It always looked like he was up there sitting on the edge of his chair like he was thinking, ‘Will the music ever get over with so I can get up and preach?'”

In addition to First Baptist in Jackson, Pollard’s pastorates included First Baptist Church in San Antonio and Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.

Pollard authored five books, “How to Know When You’re a Success,” “The Bible in Your Life,” “After You’ve Said I’m Sorry,” “Keeping Free” and “Someone Once Said.”

In addition to his wife, daughter and grandchild, Pollard is survived by a son, Brent.

A memorial service at First Baptist in Jackson had not been scheduled at press time on Dec. 2.
Reported by Phyllis Evans, director of communications at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, and Baptist Press editor Art Toalston.

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