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Roy Gresham dies at 81; longtime Md./Del. leader

COLUMBIA, Md. (BP)–Roy D. Gresham, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware from 1957-82, died May 26. He had been diagnosed earlier this year with acute leukemia.
The disease disappeared for a while after he underwent extensive chemotherapy as many well-wishers throughout the convention prayed for him. The outpouring of love moved Gresham, 81, to write a note of thanks to his friends that read in part, “I realized anew that the dear people of BCM/D and friends across the nation are the most wonderful people to be found anywhere in the world.”
Charles Barnes, current BCM/D executive director-treasurer, said Gresham “has left an indelible impression on Maryland/Delaware Baptists. Never was a man more loved and respected by people who knew him. We have lost a dear friend and a wise counselor. Our grief is for those of us left behind.”
Barnes added Gresham “was one of the most influential persons in my life. His example of commitment, love, prayer and his desire for kingdom advance have shaped my life significantly.”
Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, said, “Our deepest sympathy is extended to the Roy Gresham family. Gresham was the consummate Southern Baptist leader, a real friend of mission work both at home and abroad. His extensive denominational leadership and love for the local church revealed an abiding love for Jesus Christ.”
Gresham first preached at Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville County, S.C., where he grew up. Later he was ordained to ministry at Middle River Baptist Church, Baltimore, and became pastor of the congregation from 1946-58.
His work in the BCM/D included serving as president of the then-Baptist Convention of Maryland, president of the state mission board and president of the Baltimore Baptist Pastors Conference. Nationally, his work has included serving as first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, president of the SBC association of state and executive secretaries and associate in the church loans division of the North American Mission Board.
His former executive assistant, Neil Wilson, has known Gresham since 1960, when Wilson was a convention pastor. “I knew Roy as an executive director, a friend, a boss and then as a retired colleague, and through it all he has never been anything but a true Christian gentleman,” Wilson said. “He was human, he was personable.”
Gresham’s funeral will be May 29 at Middle River Baptist Church, with burial at Rocky Creek Baptist Cemetery, Greenville, S.C.
Gresham’s wife, Virginia, preceded him in death. He is survived by his daughters Norma Dean Holland, Jo Anne Gobeli and Janet Lynn Gresham and eight grandchildren.
Gresham had requested people who would like to pay their respects to him after his death donate to the convention’s Advancing Christ’s Kingdom fund. “That’s appropriate because that’s what he gave his life to — advancing the kingdom,” said BCM/D administrative assistant Carol Moore.

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  • Whitney Von Lake Hopler