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Union's R.C. Ryan Center receives book donation from Dehoney family

R.C. Ryan Center Director Ray Van Neste and assistant to the director Brian Denker unload a book donation from the Dehoney family.
R.C. Ryan Center Director Ray Van Neste and assistant to the director Brian Denker unload a book donation from the Dehoney family.

JACKSON, Tenn.July 26, 2012 – The family of prominent Southern Baptist statesman and former Union University trustee Wayne Dehoney has donated a portion of his personal library to the R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies.

The collection was delivered to Union’s Jackson campus this week. Among approximately 1,000 volumes are books Dehoney collected on subjects such as preaching, pastoral counseling, Baptist history, theology, and travel to historic biblical sites.

“The Union community has the highest appreciation for the long-term relationship that we have enjoyed with the Dehoney family,” Union University President David S. Dockery said. “To receive these books from Dr. Dehoney's personal library, given his influence and reputation across the Southern Baptist Convention, is an exclamation point to that very special relationship.”

Dehoney pastored churches in Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee. He served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Jackson and at Walnut Street Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky. He was a two-term president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1964-1966, and joined other prominent pastors in early racial reconciliation efforts during the 1960s.

Dehoney co-founded a travel company specializing in tours of biblical sites in Israel, and he continued to lead such trips after his retirement as pastor of Walnut Street Baptist in 1985. Health problems curtailed his ability to travel in his final years. He died in late 2007 at the age of 89, just a few weeks after the death of his wife Lealice.

Both Wayne and Lealice maintained strong ties to Union. Lealice was a 1961 graduate and later a founding member of The Union Auxiliary, a service organization that raises money for scholarships. Both served as Union trustees. Wayne was awarded an honorary degree and named trustee emeritus. A residence life building on the Jackson campus is named in their honor.

Kathy Dehoney Evitts of Louisville, Ky., the couple’s daughter, arranged for the donation.

“The Dehoney family has a lot of love for Union University,” Evitts said. “We’re so thrilled with the dynamic direction we see the institution continue to pursue in its Christian approach to higher education. You’re training our future leadership.”

The variety of subjects covered in the collection will benefit the students, pastors and teachers who use the Ryan Center library on a daily basis, according to Director Ray Van Neste.

“We think it will be a blessing to Union for many years to come,” Van Neste said.

Brian Denker, assistant to the director of the Ryan Center, will help catalog and display the collection. The donation has special significance for him.

“In my home church as a child, I kept hearing the name Wayne Dehoney just about every Sunday in every sermon,” Denker said. “He had such an influence on my pastor. So I am excited to see what kind of things (Dehoney) valued, and what books shaped his preaching and his teaching.”

Contact: Mark Kahler, Associate Vice President for University Communications, (731) 661-5543

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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