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GGBTS’ Dan Boling dead at 71

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–Dan Boling, retired professor of Christian education at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, died of cancer March 22 at his home in Petaluma, Calif. He was 71.

Boling served on Golden Gate’s faculty from 1974 until 2001. The Elaine Southerland-Boling Christian Education Fund, which provides for a Christian education lecture series every other year, is named after his wife.

“For many years before his retirement he presided over a faculty lunch hour where his humor and storytelling would add zest and enthusiasm for life to each of those days,” said Dwight Honeycutt, professor of church history at Golden Gate. “I learned to be a better faculty member by knowing and observing Dan. And I learned to be a better friend by knowing and observing Dan. As a friend, there was none better: He cared, he encouraged, he challenged and confronted, he was loving and loyal.

“Generations of students, people in countless churches — everybody loved Dan. Everything and everybody he touched, he blessed,” Honeycutt said.

Boling was a native of Austin, Texas, and a fan of all things Old Western. Those who met him learned this quickly, as he celebrated country and western music, barbecue and western-themed movies and television shows all his life.

He received his bachelor of arts from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and bachelor of divinity, master of religious education, master of divinity and doctor of education degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.

Before coming to Golden Gate, Boling served as a Baptist Student Union director. One of his students was David George, now pastor of Arlington Heights Baptist Church in Texas.

“I first met Dan at the University of Texas at Arlington where he was director of the Baptist Student Union,” George recounted. “He became a mentor, prayer partner, confidant and encourager. Years later, he encouraged me to apply for the D.Min. program at GGBTS. It was a watershed event in my life. The things I learned and the people I met have meant more to me than any other educational experience I’ve had. I cannot tell you how many students’ lives he touched just in Texas. When I think of the men who had the most influence on my life, right after my dad is Dan Boling.”

Boling went on to be a minister of youth and minister of music and youth at churches in Texas and assistant director of Southwestern Seminary’s counseling center. He was president of the Western Baptist Religious Education Association from 1979-80.

“There were so many things about Dan that blessed my life,” retired GGBTS President Bill Crews said. “He enjoyed life, he loved Golden Gate Seminary so much so that he supported it with his influence, love and money…. Golden Gate will never be the same.”

Boling saw many changes during his 28 years at Golden Gate: the addition of three regional campuses, the expansion of degree programs and the tenures of three different seminary presidents. He recently was selected by the faculty to receive the Harold K. Graves Award for his outstanding service to the seminary.

“He knew of that selection prior to his death and was greatly moved by the honor extended to him,” said Golden Gate’s current president, Jeff Iorg. “Dr. Boling made a significant contribution to the seminary and will be missed greatly by many who knew him well and worked with him over the years.”

Faculty member Shera Melick, chair of educational leadership at the seminary, described Boling as “an excellent Christian education professor who made a tremendous impact on our students. His combination of spiritual integrity, practical humor and academic excellence made him a popular professor and a valued colleague.”

Gary Arbino, professor of Old Testament at the seminary, co-taught an adult Bible study class with Boling at Petaluma Valley Baptist Church.

“We call him Pastor Dan in our Bible study class,” Arbino said. “He’s the caregiving heart and soul for us; a generous, kind, Christian man who loved to laugh.”

Shortly after his retirement, Boling wrote to a friend, “I drove out of the parking lot at GGBTS in Mill Valley, Calif. As I was driving home, I reflected with my wife (on) 28 years of teaching there. It was a bit depressing because I never was the teacher I wanted to be. I sometimes felt like I stayed just one step ahead of anyone finding out I could not teach. I drove past the coffee shop where my colleagues and I made most of the major decisions for the seminary. All of that is over. I came on home and tried to bury my sorrow in Coke floats, chocolate cake, fried chicken, and black-eyed peas.”

Funeral services were scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 28, at Petaluma Valley Baptist Church.

Boling is survived by his wife, the former Elaine Southerland; daughters Dianna Lynn Boling and Sara Gustafson; and two grandchildren.

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  • Amanda Phifer