07 November 2009

Obituary for Van B. Ingram, Jr.
~By Rebecca Click, a daughter

Van B. Ingram, Jr. was born on June 22, 1922 in Montgomery, Alabama, to Van B. Ingram, Sr. and Bessie Furlong Ingram. He died at home in on October 4, 2009, surrounded by his loving wife Gloria Peters Ingram and other members of his devoted family. He is preceded in death by his parents and a great grandchild William Hunter Lawrence. He is survived by his wife of almost 65 years Gloria Ingram, three children: Tom (Cindy) Ingram of Knoxville, Tennessee; Rebecca (Paul) Click of Vernon, Alabama; Patsy (Steve) Webber of Vernon, Alabama; two sisters Norene Brock of Murfreesboro and Virginia Guthrie of Birmingham, Alabama, and Glynn Ingram of Nashville, Tennessee, 11 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. They include three namesakes, grandson Andrew Van Click and his son Van Alexander Click and great-grandson Charles Ingram Johnson.

Interment was at Bethel church of Christ in Vernon, Alabama with Jesse Phillips, Mike Nix, Nesbitt Sanford, and Jeff Harvill speaking at services. The family had asked that in lieu of flowers donations be made to Agape of North Alabama and Mt. Dora Christian Home and Bible School, two of the works about which he was passionate and into which he poured much of his energy. These donations are still coming and continue the legacy of service to these good works by "Daddy Van" (the name given to him by the children at Tennessee Orphans' Home in the 70's).

Stricken as a child with diphtheria and subsequent chronic joint problems, he endured much pain and numerous surgical procedures during his productive life as a gospel preacher and family services social worker. Rather than let these physical challenges stop him, he allowed the Lord to use them to strengthen him and enable him with an extraordinary ability to feel the pain of others. He developed a keen sense of humor and a fairness that helped him see things from the other person's point of view. He had that rare and valuable ability to accept others as he found them, even as he was helping them to change. He loved to work with his hands and the family treasures items he crafted in his woodworking shop.

He married Gloria, the love of his life and faithful helpmeet in all his work, on December 17, 1944. He wrote eloquently about her and what her constant help and encouragement meant to him in Our Families Magazine. She served as his secretary and "assistant counselor", as well as being faithful wife, mother, first lady to him in his leadership roles, and hostess to many visitors in their home. Their longest staying "guest" was Jimmie, a foster daughter who lived with the family for two years before marrying to begin her own home.

Ingram began preaching at a young age at West End, his home congregation in Montgomery. He was in the first graduating class of Montgomery Bible College and continued his education at David Lipscomb College with a BA in 1964 and the University of Tennessee in 1966 with a Masters in Social Work. He preached for congregations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee. He loved preaching and worked hard in full-time work through 1960, when he left the thriving congregation in East Point, Georgia to pursue the education that would prepare him to work more extensively in his burning desire to help heal hurting children and families. He served as an elder in four congregations throughout the years. Demonstrating his wonderful ability to multi-task (he credited Gloria with facilitating that) he supervised the boys dormitory at Lipscomb and preached for Woodson Chapel for four years while finishing his bachelor's degree, then continued to preach for an additional two years as he completed his Masters.

This education equipped him to begin officially the works he did so diligently and in which he became a Christian pioneer. He moved to Mt. Dora, Florida where he was pivotal in instituting full services in child care. After six years there, he went to work with Greater Chattanooga Christian Services, a non residential care program in child and family services. From there he was persuaded to go to Tennessee Orphans Home where he saw that full services, including adoption and foster care were instituted. His support in these efforts was evident in the fact that contributions to TOH were the highest in the Home's history during the years he served there. Upon leaving TOH, Ingram was offered several secular positions in social services, but could not leave his love of ministering to the hurting through the avenue of church programs. Agape of North Alabama employed him to work with them as Director from 1974-1988. In addition to his responsibilities directing and raising funds for that work, he consulted and helped establish several other full service programs supported by the churches of Christ throughout the Southeast.

In 1988, when Ingram retired from Agape, board member Emmitt Sanders, dubbed him "Mr. Agape" because of the huge contributions that he had made in making this agency a strong force in family and child care. Ingram was a trail blazer in moving church sponsored programs into full services through which every resource, including extensive counseling and optimal use of foster and adoptive homes, was used to help children--his tireless work this side of the Mississippi mirrored what Bro. John White was doing on the other side of the river. Ingram leaves a legacy because of the many lives he touched and also because of the mentoring and training he gave to individuals who continue to use the lessons learned from this giant in the Lord's service.

Upon "retirement" Van and Gloria moved to Lamar County, Alabama, where he was supported part-time to provide counseling to anyone in need of it as a service of the church. They also began their work with Sojourners, travelling in their own RV to meet the needs of churches, schools and Christian camps. While in this endeavor, he and Gloria coordinated the Sojourners Workshop in Florida for several years. He also answered a call from the church in Spring Hill, Florida to do mission work as full-time minister there from 1995-1998. He completed his full-time pulpit ministry in 2005. He demonstrated his diligence to the Word when, even in his last years of preaching, he prepared new sermons, even though he had hundreds in his files that he had presented. He was valued as a visiting speaker in meetings and workshops, especially on the Home and Family as he gained experience and expertise in that area.

The work of this mighty man of God has touched countless lives through the years, and many of you have communicated these thoughts to the family during this time of loss. The family expresses deep appreciation for all the many acts of kindness, including the generous donations to Agape and Mt. Dora. While Mrs. Ingram has the reputation of being a diligent correspondent, she is working to re-build her health and is unable to communicate as readily as she would like at this time. She and the family would like for the many friends and supporters of their work to know that she is deeply grateful for every single sweet sentiment expressed during this difficult time. Clearly, the Lord has a special place in his heart for the helpless, especially widows and orphans, and the family is thankful for the tenderness you are showing to Van Ingram's widow and your remembrances of their life-work of serving "orphans".


Charlie & Mackie said...

This was a very interesting and loving tribute to Brother Van Ingram - our long time friend and brother. We highly respected and loved Van Ingram for over 50 years as a great preacher and great man. His regular appearances on the lectureship at the Christian Home and Bible School when we were students there helped guide us in living the Christian life.

Peggy Glasgow said...

Bro. Van Ingram was a wonderful man with amazing force for good in our town of Vernon, Alabama for many years. When my husband was around fifteen years old (1960), Bro. Van came to his home congregation of Bethel Church of Christ and baptized my husband during a Gospel Meeting. Years later, Bro Van did a wonderful job of counseling to troubled couples who wanted christian guidance to help solve their marriage problems. All this was at no charge and given with much love.
Bro. Van Ingram will always hold a special place in my heart and will be missed greatly. He surely is up in Heaven singing with the angels. Peggy Glasgow, a Friend