NASHVILLE (BP) — Remembered by many for her tough-talking, missions-focused rappin’ grandma character in numerous promotional videos for the International Mission Board, those who worked closely with Eloise Dieker also recall her servant heart.
Dieker, an IMB staff member for 44 years, died Nov. 11 at age 87. During her stint with the video segment “Words from Eloise” in the late ’90s to mid-2000s, Dieker’s character was part of “The Task” video series that promoted missions among thousands of high school and college students.
During a chapel service Nov. 12, Clyde Meador, IMB’s executive adviser to the president, said Dieker “always looked for new challenges even agreeing to be part of a video series that made her into a celebrity. Eloise always rose to the task.”
Among the one- to three-minute segments, her character — with the help of much editing and a few stunt doubles — was filmed hang gliding, dunking a basketball, riding the rapids in a kayak, lifting weights on a bench press and jumping on a boardroom table to fire Donald Trump during a spoof of “The Apprentice” TV show. All of it was used as a tool to help point a younger audience to a Christ-filled life and missions involvement. The segments also promoted giving through the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
“Time is a comin’ so don’t be buggin, so Co-op with the Program. Ya dig?” she said in a segment about the Cooperative Program funding channel central to Southern Baptist missions and ministries. “The cheddar you drop in the plate can help more hear about J.C. So clean it up, fly right before J.C. is in the house! Give J.C. a dollar or I’ll give you a holler.”
In another segment she said, “Yield to God’s plan. Come share Christ in a foreign land. Because when it’s all said and done we’re gonna be hangin’ with the G-man and singin’ praises to the Son.”
David LaMar, a former senior video producer with IMB, pitched the idea of doing the segments to Dieker and fondly recalled working with her on nearly all of the video shoots.
“I’ve been directing music videos and doing videos my entire career and that is probably the one thing that people go, ‘What? You did Words from Eloise’? That is so cool!'” said LaMar, who continues to freelance for IMB. “Not the Mercy Me music video. Not Michael W. Smith. No. It’s Words from Eloise. I’ll take that because she was so sweet.”
Words from Eloise was made when IMB was sending out many of their products on VHS and the YouTube craze hadn’t yet taken off, LaMar recounted. Thousands of The Task videos that included the popular segment were mailed out to churches across the country.
“I heard stories that people would come up to the board and ask if they could meet her and get their picture taken with her,” LaMar said. “Tourists would come through and they would want to meet Eloise.
“She was viral before viral was popular,” he said.
Dieker received occasional requests to speak at youth events but the IMB kept her character solely to video. LaMar said a live audience wouldn’t have worked because the segments were tightly scripted and the video team relied heavily on the use of a teleprompter.
Aside from the fun of making the segments, LaMar said he admired Dieker’s “willing spirit.”
“I think she really enjoyed it because she felt like it was making a difference and having an impact,” he said. “She was a sweet grandma and a willing spirit who trusted us…. I really felt like Dr. Frankenstein, and the monster just took on a life of its own…. It was a lot of fun to see it happen.”
Dieker began her service at the IMB in 1968. In addition to Words from Eloise, her IMB career included a variety of areas and departments. Among them: records, personnel selection, ministries and deputation, missionary fellowship, print, publishing and communication administration. She retired February 2013. Dieker had been a member of Chamberlayne Baptist Church and Northside Baptist Church in the Richmond area.
Many of the Words from Eloise segments can be found here on YouTube.
Watch a tribute video here: