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Witty, Robert Geecomment (0)

June 28, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Robert Gee Witty, a pioneer in the development of non-residential theological education and doctor of ministry studies, died at age 100 on June 20 in a Jacksonville, Fla., hospice. Witty founded Luther Rice Seminary in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1962. The school relocated to Lithonia, Ga., in 1991 and last year became Luther Rice University.

Witty, who was in the ministry 86 years according to family members, served as Luther Rice Seminary’s president from 1968 to 1982 and chancellor until 1987. At the time of the seminary’s founding, Witty was pastor of Jacksonville’s Central Baptist Church, which he led from 1943–1970.

Witty was a visionary, said Roger Willmore, pastor of Deerfoot Baptist Church, Trussville, and president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention who, as a Luther Rice student in 1975, was befriended by Witty. Witty’s vision for Luther Rice Seminary "provided a means of non-traditional theological education which was ahead of its time," Willmore said. "Today many seminaries, including SBC seminaries, use distance learning methods that were devised by Robert Witty. It was his desire to provide practical education and training for those who serve the church."

An author of numerous books, Witty has a Ph.D. from the University of Florida and a doctor of theology degree from Burton Seminary in Vermont. He also earned degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary, Asbury Theological Seminary, Willamette University and Campbell School of Theology.

His wife, Katherine, died in 1994 after 55 years of marriage. Witty is survived by six children, eight grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

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