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NOBTS’ Don Minton, 78, dies; was innovative education prof

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Donald W. Minton, professor emeritus of adult education at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, from which he retired after serving 33 years, died Oct. 17 of lung failure at his Slidell, La., home. He was 78.

Under the last five seminary presidents, Minton had served in many capacities at the seminary, earning a reputation for innovation both as a professor and administrator.

After receiving the seminary’s first doctor of religious education degree in 1957, Minton served as the first editor of Family Life Curriculum at the Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources) until 1960 when he was asked to return to NOBTS to serve as the seminary’s first dean of seminary services. Three years later, he began the seminary’s first adult education classes, serving as a professor for the next 14 years.

Licensed as a professional counselor in Louisiana, he became the seminary’s first academic counselor and director of testing in 1978, a position he served in until his retirement in 1993.

Don Stewart, professor of New Testament at the seminary, called Minton a kind and gentle friend, colleague and counselor. “I used to stop by when I just needed to get away from the ‘hustle and bustle’ of administration for some professional ‘therapy,'” Stewart said. “His office was a kind of oasis for me. We just visited and reminisced and reveled in the blessings of the Lord.”

Stewart recounted how his friend would sharpen his pocketknife while they chatted for a few minutes. “The respites sharpened my knife and my spirits,” he said, adding that Minton had given him an Arkansas Stone that he still uses to sharpen his knives today. “I often think of him as I retreat from the confusion for a few minutes of counsel with the Spirit of the Lord.”

Minton collected all kinds of artifacts, including knives, arrowheads and Civil War relics. He was born and raised in Baton Rouge, La., in the middle of a Civil War battle site in August 1862.

During World War II, Minton left college to serve as a navigation and gunnery officer in the South Pacific, receiving three battle stars. He later graduated from Louisiana State University in 1947 with a bachelor of arts degree. In addition to his doctorate, he received the master of divinity and master of religious education degrees from New Orleans Seminary in 1953 and 1954, respectively.

Dan Holcomb, professor of church history at NOBTS, remembered Minton as a gentle Christian like Barnabus, the encourager in the New Testament’s Book of Acts, who was a good man filled with God’s Spirit.

“[Minton] walked humbly and hopefully with God,” Holcomb said. “He had a deep awareness of the trustworthiness and faithfulness of God.”

The former professor was the picture editor of the seminary’s “Seventy-Five Years of Providence and Prayer: An Illustrated History of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary,” published in March 1993, and was also involved in the creation of the seminary’s first radio program, “Faith for Life,” for which he wrote more than 200 scripts. A little-known treasure in the seminary’s library is to be found in the videotapes of interviews Minton conducted of various professors emeriti, who walked down the institutional memory lane together with him.

“Their memories of the School of Providence and Prayer are an important resource as one studies the history of NOBTS,” Stewart said.

A member of First Baptist Church in Slidell, Minton served as pastor of First Baptist Church, Grand Isle, La., from 1950-58 and in various interim pastorates across Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Minton’s survivors include his wife of 56 years, Ellen; a son, James L. Minton of Mobile, Ala.; a daughter, Donell M. Williams; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: DON MINTON, AVID COLLECTOR AND FRIEND and REMEMBERING DON MINTON.

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  • Shannon Baker

    Shannon Baker is director of communications for the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey and editor of the Network’s weekly newsletter, BRN United.

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