Gardner, Henry to Receive Alumni Achievement Award

During OBU's Centennial Homecoming celebration, two distinguished alumni -- John Gardner and Kay Henry -- will be honored with the Alumni Achievement Award, the highest honor bestowed by OBU's Alumni Association.

John Gardner

Kay Henry

The recognition will be featured at OBU's Harvest Dinner on Friday, Nov. 12, at 6 p.m. in the university's Geiger Center. The award is given "in recognition of outstanding life service which has brought honor to the individual's alma mater."

John F. Gardner III was born in Little Rock, Ark. He grew up in Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock and Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Ark. Gardner graduated from OBU in 1964. He earned a master of education degree in music and administration from the University of Arkansas in 1968. For the next five years, he served as minister of music, minister of administration and church administrator for churches in Oklahoma and Arkansas. In 1973, Gardner joined the Baptist Sunday School Board (now called LifeWay Christian Resources) in Nashville, Tenn., where he worked until 2005. During those years, he also served as a bi-vocational minister of music, minister of education and consultant for churches in Tennessee.

During his tenure at LifeWay, Gardner filled roles in the Church Music Department for eight years and the vice president's office for 19 years. He served as national director of associational ministries in the Church Resources Division and as associate to the vice president in the Corporate Affairs Division. From 1981-2004, he worked as LifeWay Coordinator for mega focus cities/strategic focus cities. He served as a liaison with the North American Mission Board (formerly the Home Mission Board) from 1982-2005. He also was chief planner with state conventions from 1988-2005.

Since 1985, he has served at a new church start, ClearView Baptist Church in Franklin, Tenn.: as minister of music, minister of education, church administrator, and currently as associate pastor, missions and ministries. The church started 25 years ago with 13 members and now has a congregation of 2,200 members.

Gardner and his wife, Kaye, have three grown children -- John Gardner IV, Hank Gardner and Kimberly Gardner Stinson -- and five grandchildren.

Kay Vandevier Henry was born in Shawnee, Okla. She graduated magna cum laude from OBU in 1969, earning a bachelor's degree with majors in journalism and English and a minor in education. She started her career as a general assignment reporter for the Shawnee News-Star before accepting a teaching position in English and journalism at Hickman High School in Columbia, Mo. Henry became preschool director at First Baptist Church in Claremore, Okla., where she volunteered from 1972-75. She later served as preschool director at Southern Hills Baptist Church in Tulsa, Okla., and Arrow Heights Baptist Church in Broken Arrow, Okla., for three years. From 1982-88, she served as director of preschool ministries at First Baptist Church in Claremore.

In 1988, Henry accepted the role of regional development director for OBU. She assisted with a $1.5 million OBU campaign in the Tulsa area, soliciting cash and pledge gifts in northeastern Oklahoma. From 1989-91, she served as executive director of the OBU Alumni Association, coordinating the work of the 33-member alumni board of directors and directing campus and off-campus programs. She co-directed the $3.5 million nationwide alumni campaign titled "Bridging the Centuries."

Henry returned to preschool ministries, serving as a consultant for conferences and writing materials for local churches, state Baptist conventions and the Baptist Sunday School Board (now called LifeWay Christian Resources). She served as director of preschool ministries for a year at Eastwood Baptist Church in Tulsa, where she was responsible for 500 preschoolers enrolled in 22 Sunday School departments, as well as 280 volunteer teachers and a staff of 30. She was a contract field consultant for LifeWay from 1994-98, conducting early childhood education teacher-training conferences.

From 1995-2008, Henry returned to her alma mater as assistant vice president for development. She was responsible for raising financial support for the university, including regional campaigns in Tulsa, Bartlesville, northeast Oklahoma, north central Oklahoma, northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri. She was co-director of the $4.5 million nationwide alumni campaign, "Foundation for the Future."

Henry is the co-author of five books published by Convention Press: "Mother's Day Out Program Guide" in 1981; "Teaching in Church Weekday Education" in 1988; "Mother's Day Out Program Guide, Revised" in 1989; "When I Go to Church: An Introduction to Congregational Worship for Preschoolers" in 1992; and "God's Plan for Me" in 1993.

A resident of Seminole, Okla., Henry is married to Joe Henry, a 1970 OBU graduate. They have two children: Dr. Douglas Henry, a 1992 OBU alum, married to Michele Howard Henry, a 1991 alum; and Jenifer Henry-Gonzalez, a 1995 OBU alum, and two grandchildren.

For more information about the upcoming Centennial Homecoming festivities, click here or contact the OBU alumni office at or (405) 878-2706.