Friday, January 15, 2010

It's Not Goodbye, Just "See You Soon!" -- A Tribute to My Friend Rick Talley


This morning I received a call at 4:00 a.m. that one of our church members who had been in the hospital since Wednesday had taken a turn for the worse, and the family was requesting my presence. Upon arrival, I discovered our 83 year old member was alert, but family around him were concerned over his congestive heart failure and pneumonia. After a time of prayer with our church member, asking the Lord for grace to either die with dignity or be healed by sovereignty, I sat down to visit with the family. We spent a couple of hours visiting, telling stories about their loved (who was now asleep), and reflecting on the goodness of God to his family.

During the conversation, the family spoke highly of our church's hospital chaplain Rick Talley. Rick, pictured to the left, had faithfully visited other members of this family during their hospital stays within the last several years. Rick had not yet been to see this particular church member since his admission to the hospital Wednesday because Rick had called us on that day to let us know he wasn't feeling well and wouldn't be making his hospital rounds. As I sat with family members in the hospital room, they testified how much Rick's ministry meant to them, and expressed their hope that Rick would be feeling better soon. I told the family how much the pastoral staff also appreciated Rick's ministry. He loved people so much that he insisted he be given as many church ministry assignments as possible, even though he was a part-time ministering pastor in terms of pay. He joined with all the full-time ministering pastors in our efforts to personally contact every single member (4,598) during the course of a year. This past Monday, I wrote about our church member ministry and Rick commented on this blog:
This is a very special ministry for our church. It's like three of my assigned contacts this week were waiting for someone to call. All three were weeping and sharing their heart and heartaches, just waiting for an encouraging word. God is truly an amazing God and He is smack dab in the middle of this ministry!!!
That's Rick's heart. Upon leaving the hospital at 6:30 a.m. I gave Rick a call to check on him and see how he was doing. Rick always rises very early (5:30 a.m.), eats a small breakfast, and then makes his hospital rounds. By 8:30 a.m. every morning he gives me a fresh hospital report on my blackberry. Rick, 62 years of age, is a graduate of Southwestern Theological Seminary, and has served previously at Wedgewood Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas. Ten years ago, Rick's daughter, Mary Beth, was shot through the back in the horrible and senseless shooting that occurred at Wedgewood Baptist Church. Seven people died that Wednesday night, and seven people who were shot survived. Mary Beth was one of the seven who survived. Years ago Rick's wife divorced him. Rick never, however, got bitter with God over those events in his life. Rather, Rick's compassion for people in the hospitals seemed to have been shaped by some of his own painful experiences.

I didn't receive a response from Rick to my text this morning, which was unusual, so I went by his apartment to check on him. His car was in the carport, so I knew he was home. Rick didn't come to the door when I rang the doorbell. Concerned, I called the manager of the apartment complex, obtained a key, and I and the police entered Rick's apartment in what is called a "well-being entry."

Rick had died during the night.

He died in his sleep on the sofa. Frankly, when the Lord calls me home, I hope he takes me in the same manner. Rick died of what the coroner calls "natural causes." He was a diabetic, suffered from hypertension, and had not been feeling well. We all know, though, that he died at the precise time appointed by His Lord.

Rick's death is a loss for our church. We will miss his enthusiasm in ministry. We will miss the way he truly cared for the people whom he visited. I will miss the friend who would often join me at Thunder basketball games, or OU football games, or Enid High School athletic events. Rick would join my daughter and me in visiting homebound members on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Our entire pastoral staff and our spouses will miss the person who stood up at last December's Christmas party and thanked everyone, with tears in his eyes, for being his family.

Rick, we aren't saying "Goodbye" to you. We simply offer "We'll see you soon."

The Lord works in mysterious ways,

Wade Burleson


Anonymous said...

For Rick

Mel said...

I've read your blog for quite some time but have never commented. Just wanted to let you know my thoughts and prayers are with you, your staff and Rick's family during this time. Thanks for sharing Rick with us....I know he's rejoicing in heaven with his Lord right now!

Ramesh said...

Some of the comments left by "rick t" on Pastor Wade's blog.

We will miss him.

Alan Paul said...

God's peace and comfort to you, your family and your church family at the losss of Rick. What a wonderful tribute to him and to the fact that it is not really "good bye" but "see ya soon"

Paul Burleson said...


I'm sitting here reading this post with tears [literally]] and a smile [literally] thinking of the times I've talked with Rick when preaching at Emmanuel in your absence. A gentle spirit, a fine man and a brother who got home before the rest of us. But our time is coming.

"Home." Has a good sound to it doesn't it.


Christiane said...

For Rick, who has fallen asleep in the Lord:

“May the angels lead you into Paradise.
May the martyrs come to greet you on the way.
May they lead you home to the holy city,
to the new and eternal Jerusalem.

May the choirs of angels come to welcome you.
May they take you to the arms of Abraham,
where Lazarus is poor no longer,
and there may you find rest, rest eternal."

Joe Blackmon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Kinng said...

Rick was loved by all of our SASBA bowling family. I'm so glad that Wade posted this blog.

Jim King
SASBA Executive Director said...

Thanks all for the great comments! I know the family appreciates your thoughts and prayers.


Lydia said...

You know, I often think that in the end it is just me and Jesus. I try to remember that daily.

To unbelievers, your friend died alone...but we know he was NOT alone.

Bob Cleveland said...

Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of His saints. We don't understand that, really, but we don't need to; we just need to believe it.

I hope you, Rick's family, and the Emmanuel family all experience renewed grace and peace.

Unknown said...

I've known Rick for over forty years. He was a superfiend and we also worked together at Champlin during this time. We've bowled together and shared many great times. Although we've grown apart he has always been in my thoughts. He is at piece now. Till we meet again. Richard Ball, Arlington, Tx.

Ramesh said...

WikiSource > Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

Wiki > Ode: Intimations of Immortality.

Gene S said...

Speaking of losses, I share this overview of Dr. Russell Dilday of his "death" from the position of President SWBTS. He was on my Ordaination Council and I value him from the time he pastored 2nd Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta:

By John Pierce
Fort Worth, Texas — March 9, 1994, is considered
by many to be a monumental day in
what supporters call the “conservative resurgence”
and detractors call the “fundamentalist
takeover” in the Southern Baptist
Convention. It was the day Russell Dilday
was fired as president of Southwestern Baptist
Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
A decade later, Dilday is bringing his
dismissal and the surrounding events to light
in Columns: Glimpses of a Seminary Under
Assault, to be released by Smyth &Helwys
Publishing in November. The title comes
from the monthly columns Dilday wrote in
the seminary newsletter during his 16 years as
Dilday said he re-read the columns in
preparation for another book to be released
in 2005 in which he reflects on the larger
issues concerning the SBC controversy that
began in the late ‘70s and significantly
reshaped the nation’s largest non-Catholic
“I was struck by how well (the columns)
tell the story of the joys, accomplishments
and disappointments we experienced and
how the seminary family worked together to
keep Southwestern ‘lashed to the cross,’”
wrote Dilday in the book’s preface.
Dilday said the columns “speak for
themselves” and are a “remarkable and sometimes
sad chronicle of how the fundamentalist
takeover of the SBC from 1978 to 1994
ultimately undermined the world’s largest
The book is both history and commentary.
The various columns are preceded by
listings of “key events” such as seminary programs,
speaking engagements and other
contextual information. Dilday seems particularly
interested in communicating once
again with the many ministers, educators and
missionaries who came through Southwestern
during his tenure as president.
He writes: “I hope reflecting on these
years again will renew your appreciation for
the Southwestern of yesterday, will highlight
dangers to avoid in future models of ministry
training, and will clarify some of the mystery
of how such a great school could be captured
and pillaged.”
The cautious and affirmative columns of
a denominational executive are sandwiched
between more recent and direct comments of
one considered by sympathetic persons to be
a victim of fundamentalist politics. At times
Dilday refers to individual trustees who
helped carry out his dismissal by descriptions
such as “a Texas lawyer” or “another trustee
from North Carolina” rather than names.
However, he roundly portrays the majority
of trustees responsible for his ouster as
incompetent and often unsophisticated. He
even describes a scene in which one trustee, a
music evangelist, is asked to sing for the
seminary’s top donors.
“He was going to sing and whistle at the
same time,” writes Dilday. “What came out
was something close to the sound Donald
Duck makes in TV cartoons. It was humiliating
to all except the fundamentalist board
Dilday leaves no doubt about where he
places the direct blame for his ouster —
board chairman Ralph Pulley and those who
put him in leadership.
Pulley, who returned to the board in
1992 after already serving an unprecedented
12 years as a trustee, was described by Dilday
as “a source of contention at nearly every
meeting.” Dilday notes the close relationship
between Pulley, an attorney and deacon a
Dallas’ First Baptist Church, with then pastor
W.A. Criswell and associate pastor Paige
These two men, of course, were key
players in the rightward shift within the SBC
in recent decades. And, now, Patterson occupies
the president’s office on the seminary
campus from which Dilday was barred
immediately following his swift termination
in 1994.

Ramesh said...

At the end of today's sermon, Pastor Wade gave a moving "testimony" of Rick. For some reason these testimonies help in me in my walk.

Liam Madden said...

Dear Wade,

Thank for sharing this story of a beloved church member. It was a blessing to hear of his ministry and also his personal connection to Wedgwood Baptist Church, pastored by Al Meredith, the preacher who most influenced me to go on the mission field. We should all pray that the Lord would give our churches more people like Rick Talley.

ART PIERCE said...


I have enjoyed the sermon on I CORINTHIANS 13. The moving "testimony" you gave about Rick Talley fitted right in to this morning sermon. "Love never failed." I never new of Rick but after this morning sermon I knew his love has had a lasting impressing on me.


ART PIERCE said...


I have enjoyed the sermon on I CORINTHIANS 13. The moving "testimony" you gave about Rick Talley fitted right in to this morning sermon. "Love never failed." I never new of Rick but after this morning sermon I knew his love has had a lasting impressing on me.


Rex Ray said...

You said, “Speaking of losses, I share this overview of Dr. Russell Dilday of his “death” from the position of President SWBTS.”

I believe his book is the start of the ‘death’ of SWBTS.

Until 1925, SWBTS was owned by the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT).

Now anyone in the BGCT is excluded from being a teacher because they will NOT sign the BFM that’s held in reverence as a creed.

Ironic huh?

I don’t believe it was the ‘death’ of Dilday but the revilement of the height of his character when a crowd of students came to his house and said they would leave school in protest of his being fired, but he encouraged them to stay for that was the important thing.

Gene S said...

Rex Ray--

Both Randall Lolley and Russel Dilday were the finest and most intelligent minister with pulpit experience to serve as a Seminary President, in my opinion.

I know them both well! They are the "real deal" where what we have now is nothing but "pomp and circumstance."

I know Mohler by watching him replace Jack Harwell as Editor of the Christian Index of Georgia. It went from a circumspect and honest newspaper to a promoter of all things "Conservative Resurgence." If the "big boys" wanted it, he gave it with total disregard to anything other than SBC. Fluff totally replaced substance. I am from Georgia and read it religiously.

PP is the same, in my opinion. Beneath that smile and seeming likeability is the heart of a cobra and a bite just as venomous from my personal experience.

What amazed me most about his "reign" at SEBTS was the amount of "President worship" which accompanied his tenure. Throughout the Alumni Newsletter was nothing but "how great our new President is."

Not only was it changed into an expensive "National Geographic quality of paper" publication after being a regular "newsprint to save money" paper under Lolly, but his grandeous office bespoke nothing but GM opulence. The walls were covered with pictures and memorabilia which only attested to the greatness of the occupant.

Men who need constant adulation and honor like unto God, Himself, are hardly my ideal of a "Servant Minister" I believe God calls us to be. Matthew 23 bespeaks my viewpoint.

In my opinion, of course!