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Fruitland President Kilby dies at 42 of heart attack

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (BP)–Randy K. Kilby, president of Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute since 1994, died suddenly Feb. 11 of an apparent heart attack at age 42.

He had spoken earlier in the evening during a Bible conference at West Lenoir (N.C.) Baptist Church in Caldwell Baptist Association.

Several of the program speakers had refreshments and a time of fellowship after the service. When Kilby did not appear in the dining room, a search found him lying face down on the floor of his room, one of two guest rooms at the church. He was already dead.

Several observers at the Bible conference said Kilby had preached with great intensity and made no mention of not feeling well. He joked in his message about being hungry and looking forward to eating after the service.

However, it was reported Kilby had indicated earlier in the day he was not feeling well, assuming he had a cold or the beginnings of the flu.

As he left the evening service, some noticed he was perspiring heavily and hurried to his room.

The Fruitland president had preached the first sermon in the conference on Monday evening and the last message on Tuesday evening.

Kilby had preached the Feb. 6 chapel service at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C., declaring at the outset of his message in Binkley Chapel: “Pray that I will come into this pulpit as if it were my first time, pray for me that I’ll preach as if
it were my best time and pray for me as it could be my last time.”

Kilby was unanimously elected president of the Bible institute in Hendersonville in western North Carolina by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina general board in May 1994. He had been a vice president at Georgetown College in Kentucky two years.

The graduate of Gardner-Webb University, Boiling Springs, N.C., was born in Asheville, N.C., the son of pastor G.L. Kilby and his wife, Margaret, of Swannanoa. Prior to his service at Georgetown College, Kilby served his alma mater as director of admissions, working at the
North Carolina school 12 years.

He is survived by his wife, Dana, and a son, Joshua, a first- grader. In addition to his parents, Kilby also is survived by two brothers and a sister, all in North Carolina: Roy, a minister in Canton, Garry of Asheville, and Ann Sprinkles of Leicester.

“Randy Kilby was the best thing that ever happened to Fruitland,” Kenneth Ridings, a 29-year faculty member at the Bible institute, told the Biblical Recorder state Baptist newsjournal in a telephone interview. Ridings is second vice president of the state convention.

“He had dreams, visions and hopes for Fruitland that none of us can ever forget. He was brilliant, compassionate, a wonderful man who devoted his life to the Lord’s work and Baptists,” Ridings added.

Steve Scoggins, pastor of Hendersonville’s First Baptist Church and professor of New Testament at Fruitland, echoed Ridings’ sentiments.

“Randy was a tremendous, absorbing personality,” Scoggins told the Recorder. “He kept Fruitland on a single focus — a school to produce and prepare preachers. Randy embodied every ideal he wanted to see in men in the ministry,” Scoggins said.

In addition to the 18 years of service to educational
institutions, Kilby served as an evangelism team member for two summers sponsored by the state convention’s evangelism division. He was youth director and assistant to the pastor at Philippi Baptist Church, Union, S.C. He was a licensed funeral director and had worked with the Miller
Funeral Home, Black Mountain, N.C., which handled the arrangements.

Funeral services were at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 14, at Mud Creek Baptist Church, Hendersonville, where Greg Mathis, president of the Baptist State Convention, is pastor. Mathis officiated at the services, along with Tom Hayes, an evangelist from Saluda, N.C., and Ridings.
Burial was in Black Mountain.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Kilby’s honor to The Library Fund, Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, Route 2, Box 116, Hendersonville, N.C. 28792-9553, or the Joshua Kilby Scholarship Fund at the same address.

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