A Loving and Generous Spirit
Spreading Good News, Summer 2013
Tom Denton, Eastern Area Manager
"Rev. Robert Lacy Oliver, 89, received his heavenly promotion on Thursday, January 17, 2013." Thus, began the newspaper obituary for my friend of over thirty years. His ministry as a Baptist pastor had spanned fifty-five years and four churches. He was well known and respected throughout Kinston, the Neuse Baptist Association and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
Lacy, along with his beloved wife and help mate of forty-three years, Mary Hudson Oliver, had eleven children, twenty-four grandchildren, twenty-two great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. He was a churchman and a family man. Whenever in his presence, he was talking about the church, his wife, or one of his many heirs. Those of us who knew him are not only his survivors; we are inheritors of his loving and generous spirit. His gregarious laugh and gracious manner will be missed by all who knew him. Yet, he lives on!
My friend was not rich in terms of the world's possessions. But his loved ones rose up to call him "blessed" and constantly surrounded him with their presence and gratitude. They returned that unconditional love that he had so abundantly shared with them.
While Lacy and I shared a meal together at an associational meeting back in 2004, he indicated that he wanted to establish a scholarship endowment for students at Campbell University Divinity School. "I cannot afford to fully fund the endowment now, but I want to get it started," he told me on that occasion. Lacy and Mary Hudson made their initial gift to the cumulative endowment the following spring. Additional contributions to the endowment have been made over the years by the Olivers, their children, friends, and churches giving in his honor.
"It is my desire to finish funding the endowment before my death," Lacy would say to me every time we met. Two weeks prior to his death, Mary wrote a check to meet the desired goal and Lacy's dream was realized. In the year of his death, the Robert Lacy and Mary Hudson Oliver Endowment Fund will award its first scholarship to a Campbell Divinity School student.
My friend's Christian legacy will continue as long as any of his loved ones live. But, it will do more than that with the passing of time. It will educate countless ministers, year after year, as they spread the Good News that Lacy loved and proclaimed for all of his life. Yes, he has been "promoted" to a new status. Lacy's witness will continue to "promote" the greatest cause on earth, or in heaven, until we all are reunited with him in eternal celebration.
Blessings on you, my brother. Thank you for your constant friendship and visionary leadership!