July 30, 2018
Longtime music evangelist Leon Westerhouse died July 26 at age 83.
Leon Westerhouse grew up in First Baptist, Birmingham, where he was saved at the age of eight and sang in the choir. For two summers during college, he performed Broadway shows in Atlanta, which led to an offer to play Li’l Abner on Broadway. He said he declined the offer because he “wanted to sing songs about Jesus because He’s real. I wanted to sing for Jesus, not just act a part.”
A major turning point in Westerhouse’s life came in 1958. While returning home from their honeymoon, Westerhouse and his wife, Patsy, were in a car accident that left both of them severely injured. Westerhouse was told he would never sing again, but God had other plans.
Westerhouse completed his bachelor of music degree at the University of Alabama in 1959. In 1964, while working for Frisco Railroad, he surrendered to full-time music evangelism and broke new ground in ministry as the first music evangelist in Alabama. He was ordained in 1979.
In his more than 50-year career, Westerhouse proclaimed Jesus across the United States and on numerous missions trips abroad. In 2008 he was inducted into the Southern Baptist Evangelists Hall of Faith.
Known for his sweet spirit, committed prayer life and faithful service to the Lord, Westerhouse was beloved across Alabama Baptist and Southern Baptist life. He was inducted into the Southern Baptist Evangelists Hall of Faith in 2008 and celebrated 50 years as a full-time music evangelist in July 2014.
He loved proclaiming the name of Jesus through song, spending time with his family, fishing, bowling and keeping up with Alabama football. Westerhouse’s favorite Scripture verse was Psalm 27:1 and his favorite hymn was “My Jesus, I Love Thee.”
Westerhouse is survived by his wife of 60 years, Patsy; children: Wendy, Wayne and Warren Westerhouse; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
An evangelistic service and celebration of life and ministry for Westerhouse will be held Wednesday, Aug. 1, at 11 a.m. at Huffman Baptist Church in Birmingham with a graveside service to follow at Elmwood Cemetery. Sammy Gilbreath, Larry Smith and Bob Smith will lead the service.
Visitation will be Tuesday, July 31, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Huffman Baptist Church.
In lieu of flowers, make donations to Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center, 1314 Shocco Springs Road, Talladega, AL 35160 or COSBE (Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists), P.O. Box 444, Katy, TX 77492. (TAB)