Dick Rader Dies After Battle With Cancer

October 14, 2002

Dr. Dick Rader

Rader's memorial service was Wednesday, Oct. 16, in Andrew Potter Auditorium, in John Wesley Raley Chapel on the OBU campus in Shawnee.

Born in Oklahoma City Nov. 30, 1940, Rader was the son of Nash and Inez Rader. He graduated from Midwest City High School in 1959 and completed a bachelor's degree at OBU in 1963, with a major in English. He earned a bachelor of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1966. He earned a Ph.D. degree in Christian ethics from Southwestern Seminary in 1980.

While a college student, Rader was active as a youth revival preacher, and was youth director at the First Baptist Church of Midwest City from 1961-63. He was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Mill Creek from 1963-64, and also was pastor of Little City Baptist Church in Madill from 1964-67.

He married the former Sue Harris, a native of Madill, on June 11, 1961. The Raders were appointed as missionaries by the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1967. Rader was a field evangelist in Zambia, Africa, from 1967-76, and was area director for theological education by extension on the Copperbelt in Zambia, from 1972-76. He served as principal and teacher at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Lusaka, Zambia, from 1977-78. He was a lecturer at the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa, in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1978-79.

The Raders returned to the United States on medical leave in 1979, and he taught as an adjunct professor at OBU in 1979. He was named assistant professor of religion in 1980, and was promoted to associate professor of religion in 1984. He became dean of OBU's Joe L. Ingram School of Christian Service in 1985. He was named the University's WMU Professor of Missions in 1989. In addition to his work as an academic dean, Rader assumed the duties of vice president for religious life in 1994. He held both supervisory roles until his retirement in June 2002.

The Raders are members of Temple Baptist Church in Shawnee. Following his retirement due to health reasons, the couple moved to Elk City to be near family.

Rader was a frequent missions speaker and Bible study leader across the state of Oklahoma. He also coordinated OBU's innovative Ministry Training Institute, which was started in 1983 in a cooperative agreement between the University and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Rader was responsible for hiring adjunct faculty and coordinating MTI locations and course offerings at more than 30 sites in the state. The program, which offers college-level courses which can lead to the bachelor's degree in Christian studies, experienced significant growth in the 1980s and early 1990s. Rader worked with Baptist officials in several states to offer MTI courses for people in states without Southern Baptist colleges.

In addition to his academic and administrative work, Rader and his wife coordinated ministry programs for OBU students who were the children of missionaries. He also worked to provide additional campus programs for married students.

"Dick Rader's contribution to Christ's kingdom through OBU will only be measured fully in eternity," said OBU President Mark A. Brister.

During Rader's tenure as dean of OBU's School of Christian Service the academic division grew to a record enrollment of more than 525 students in the fall of 1994. The total made OBU's religious studies program the largest among all colleges and universities in the nation.

Rader wrote numerous articles and several books, including Responding to God 's Call: A Guide to Vocational Christian Ministry. He and his wife co-wrote A Road Beyond the Suffering: An Experiential Journey through the Book of Job. They made presentations based on the text at churches and conferences across the state.

"Dick did an outstanding job of leading the School of Christian Service, both in strengthening its academic quality and in serving the needs of the churches," said Dr. Bob R. Agee, OBU's president from 1982-1998.

Administratively, Rader coordinated religious life programs to nurture spiritual development, worship and mission involvement. During his tenure, the University gained the distinction of having more recent graduates serving in the International Mission Board's two-year Journeyman program than any other college in the nation.

Brister said Rader's "zeal for missions and evangelism and appeal for academic excellence" serve as a strong, positive example for students and colleagues.

"His genteel manner in loving students and staff, and steel resolve to give God the glory, even in the midst of personal suffering, reveal true Christianity to all who know him and love him," said Brister.

Rader was preceded in death by his parents, Nash and Inez Rader. He is survived by his wife, Sue Rader of Elk City; five sons and daughters-in-law, Michael and Sheren of Elk City, Darrel and Michelle of McKinney, Texas, Steven and Dolores of Houston, Texas, Gregory and Tracy of Oklahoma City, and Jeffrey and Leah of Lubbock, Texas; 13 grandchildren; and two brothers, Farrell Rader of Hilltop Lakes, Texas, and Don Rader of Edmond.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Cousins MK Scholarship at OBU, which the Raders established earlier this year to benefit children of evangelical Christian career missionaries.