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Longtime Southern Baptist journalist Al Shackleford dies in car crash

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Longtime Southern Baptist journalist Al Shackleford died Sunday, July 23, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. He was 68.

Shackleford, editor-in-chief of Mature Living magazine at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, was traveling west on Highway 96 in Tennessee’s Williamson County at the time of the head-on crash involving three vehicles. In the car with him were his wife, Tommye, daughter Dee Cochran and two grandchildren, Ben, 4, and Rachel, 2. Tommye Shackleford was released July 24 from Nashville’s Vanderbilt Medical Center. Cochran was hospitalized at Williamson Medical Center and expected to be released July 25. Ben and Rachel Cochran were not seriously injured.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, several passengers in one of the other vehicles were injured, none fatally.

Shackleford, a member of Brentwood (Tenn.) Baptist Church, joined LifeWay in 1992 as editor-in-chief of Mature Living, a monthly magazine for senior adults.

“For eight years, Al Shackleford led Southern Baptist work with senior adults through the pages of Mature Living as part of our senior adult ministry team,” said Selma Wilson, director of LifeWay’s discipleship and family magazine department where Shackleford worked.

“He loved senior adults and was in his element when speaking to them and sharing with them. He equally loved children and taught 5-year-olds in Sunday school every week. Al loved his family and his colleagues,” Wilson said. “He made a great contribution to our lives and those of his readers and colleagues. He will be greatly missed.”

LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr., said of Shackleford: “I was very pleased when he accepted our offer to come to LifeWay eight years ago. He did a superb job as editor of Mature Living.

“I loved and appreciated Al for many reasons, including his strong belief system and commitment to the truth of God’s Word. I know I speak for all who knew and worked with him when I say we will miss him greatly and are praying for his family as they deal with their grief and for the healing of those injured in the accident.”

Earlier, Shackleford served as vice president for public relations of the SBC Executive Committee from 1987-1990. He was dismissed from his position along with Baptist Press editor Dan Martin. He held several part-time positions before joining LifeWay in 1992.

Before joining the Executive Committee, Shackleford served as editor of the Baptist & Reflector, newsjournal for the Tennessee Baptist Convention, 1976-87, and editor of The Indiana Baptist, newsjournal of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana,1965-76.

Harold C. Bennett, former president of the SBC Executive Committee and Shackleford’s supervisor at Baptist Press, said: “Al was one of the most gracious and skilled workers in Southern Baptist life. I admired him when he was editor of the Baptist and Reflector. That impressed me to ask him to come to work at Baptist Press where he worked hard and diligently and with great integrity. I was so pleased when Jimmy Draper hired him at LifeWay to head Mature Living. I will miss Al and pray that God will grant Tommye his healing forces.”

Tom Madden, executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention when Shackleford became editor of the Baptist and Reflector, said: “I always felt Al was called to be a journalist. He represented both sides of an issue to the best of his ability. He was a supporter of all Baptist causes. I enjoyed working with him and feel a distinct personal loss.”

A native of Franklin, Ga., Shackleford was a graduate of Mercer University, Macon, Ga., the University of Georgia, Athens, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.

In addition to his wife, Tommye Shackleford, daughter Dee Cochran and two grandchildren, Shackleford is survived by another daughter, Tina Shackleford of Iowa City, Iowa, and a brother, Nat Shackleford, of Carrollton, Ga.
(BP) photo of Shackleford is posted in the BP Photo Library at www.sbcbaptistpress.org. Funeral arrangements are incomplete and will be posted in the July 25 edition of Baptist Press.

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  • Terri Lackey