In Memoriam: Dr. Albert W. Wardin Jr.

January 10, 2023 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Obituaries in Nashville, TN | The TennesseanAlbert W. Wardin, Jr., prominent Baptist historian, died on November 14, 2022, at the age of 94, in Nashville, Tennessee. Albert was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 38 years, Lucile Peak Wardin, for whom he was a devoted, compassionate caregiver for the last 8 years of her life. Albert was also preceded in death by his parents, Albert W. Wardin, Sr., and Anna Klemm Wardin, his brothers Ferdinand and John, his sister Ardis, and his nephew Brad. He is survived by his sister, Doris Wardin Lemley, and nieces and nephews, David, Stephen, Margaret, Debbie, John, Karen, Daniel, Chris, Matthew and Julie. Born in Portland, Oregon, on March 11, 1928, Albert made his first public appearance as a bare-bottomed infant on the promotional calendar of the Fulton Park Dairy, the family business. Albert graduated from Lincoln High School in Portland, then received his B.A. degree from Willamette University, his Master’s degree from Stanford University, and Bachelor of Divinity degree from Western Baptist Seminary. He began his lifelong career in religious education at Western Baptist Seminary in Portland, teaching church history, and taught Baptist History at Judson Baptist College, where he served as Head of Library. Albert came to Nashville in 1967, joining the faculty of Belmont College. Early in his tenure at Belmont, he served a vital role in the restoration of Belmont mansion. Albert was the first President of the Belmont Mansion Historical Society and its foundation, authoring a history of the mansion. Albert taught, wrote and ministered at Belmont until his retirement. Albert met Lucile at Belmont. While leading a bible study group for male students, Albert contacted female faculty to lead a similar group for coeds. The search led Albert to Belmont’s new Dean of Women, Lucile Peak, who said “yes” to Albert’s request for help with the bible study group and, more importantly, said “yes” again to Albert’s marriage proposal a year later. Albert and Lucile shared a heart for world missions and international students. Albert and his mother personally smuggled Bibles into Russia and Romania on travels abroad. They befriended students on their travels, forming lifetime bonds. A sabbatical year in Kenya led them to Harrison Waithaka, who they sponsored to attend Belmont. Baptist missions in Shanghai China led them to a lifelong relationship with their “son” Qin Bin Lin. A prolific author, Albert wrote 12 books and numerous articles centering on Baptist history, with a specialization in the Protestant church in Russia. He amassed an extensive collection of Baptist materials, especially on Russian Baptists. His most important works were Tennessee Baptists: A Comprehensive History and On the Edge: Baptists and Other Free Church Evangelicals in Tsarist Russia. The reference room of the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives is named in his honor. Albert supported missions and Baptist education and heritage locally, particularly the library of the American Baptist College, the Tennessee Baptist Historical Society and the Mill Creek Baptist Church graveyard, and globally as well. Albert made significant contributions to and was instrumental in the establishment of the Cambodia Baptist Union and Baptist Center in Bulgaria. A member of First Baptist Church-Nashville since 1967, Albert served as a Deacon, on the Missions Committee, and taught Sunday School and Training Union. He traveled each Sunday for years to teach Sunday School to inner-city youth at Carroll Street Chapel, now the Church of the Messiah. A child of God, a friend and citizen of the world, steward, preserver and chronicler of Baptist history and heritage, Albert leaves a lasting legacy. Visitation will be held Tuesday November 22 from 12 noon to 1 p.m., at First Baptist Church, Seventh and Broadway, Nashville, followed by a Celebration of Life worship service at the church beginning at 1 p.m., led by Tony Rankin. Entombment will follow at 2 p.m., at the mausoleum of Woodlawn-Roesch-Patton Funeral Home, 660 Thompson Lane, Nashville, led by Frank Lewis. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Albert and Lucile Wardin Endowment Fund at Belmont University.