NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Paul William Gericke, who served New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in various roles for nearly three decades and founded the seminary’s on-campus radio station, WBSN (Lifesongs 89.1), died July 13. He was 85.
A native of St. Louis, Gericke joined the seminary faculty in 1965 and was involved in a number of “firsts” at the school, establishing the communication center and the media center. He was director of library services, and then director of the John T. Christian Library for nearly 20 years.
New Orleans Seminary President Chuck Kelley praised Gericke’s forward-thinking approach to communication and technology.
“Dr. Paul Gericke was more than an excellent librarian and outstanding Christian. He was also a little-known visionary who helped push New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary into the future,” Kelley said.
Despite having no money to start a radio station, Gericke launched and helped transform Lifesongs into one of the nation’s top Christian radio stations, Kelley said.
“With no money or encouragement, he used his engineering expertise to start a campus radio station that could barely cross the street with its signal,” Kelley said. “Today Lifesongs WBSN extends across the Greater New Orleans region and is one of the top-rated Christian radio stations in the nation. It has partnered with the seminary to fund our technology for teaching program and has been a sustaining presence for the Christians of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“His small steps toward big dreams have produced huge results. We will miss him.”
Before going into ministry, Gericke served as an electronics technician and instructor for the Navy Air Corps during World War II, and later as an instructor for the Air Force.
Gericke earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis in 1949 and a bachelor of divinity in 1960 from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., before earning his Th.D. from New Orleans Seminary in 1964 and a master of arts from the University of New Orleans in 1972.
Gericke also served in pastoral roles in churches in Missouri, Kentucky and Mississippi. He was the author of five books, including “Prince of Preachers: The Apostle Paul,” “Sermon Building,” “Crucial Experiences in the Life of D. L. Moody” and “Pastor’s Library.” He also served in the classroom as associate professor of communication, teaching such courses as “Great Preachers of the Church” and “Introduction to Christian Proclamation.”
Gericke is survived by his wife, Jean, and a son, Michael. Jean Gericke helped establish the clinic on the New Orleans Seminary campus.
Paul F. South is a writer for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.