Former President William R. “Bill” Myers Dies
It is with great sadness that Northern Seminary announces the passing of former president, Dr. William R. “Bill” Myers. Dr. Myers made an indelible impact on the Northern community in his thirteen years as president, as well as during his time serving on the Board of Trustees. Vice-President of Academic Affairs and Interim President Karen Walker Freeburg remembers Dr. Myers:
“I have never known a more Christ-like person than Dr. Bill Myers. He was my childhood pastor at North Shore Baptist Church, Chicago, leading me to Christ and baptism at the age of eight. In Bill I saw the person I longed to become: gentle, wise and focused upon loving Christ and his bride, the global church. Before anyone taught courses about active listening, Bill was always fully present to every person before him. He made himself truly available to every person he met in a manner which was wonderfully genuine and incredibly meaningful.
Bill was president when I began seminary. He served as my mentor, cheerleader and friend. If you were to bring every Northern Seminary graduate from Bill’s tenure as president into the room and asked, ‘Will all those for whom Bill was a personal mentor, cheerleader and close friend, please stand?’ I imagine every one of the graduates would bound to their feet, eager to express the love and encouragement they received from Bill.
As president, Bill bravely led the seminary through difficult financial seasons and built a faculty with an incredible reputation. His belief in what God would do through Northern’s graduates was contagious.”
Bill Myers is survived by his wife, Geraldyne (Gerry), four children, and ten grandchildren.
Born in 1926, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Myers spent his early years in the Midwest. Upon completing high school he served in the United States Navy for three years. In 1949 he married Gerry Brown. They have four children and ten grandchildren. His education includes degrees from the University of Cincinnati and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and he did further advanced study at Union Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, University of Michigan, and Oxford University.
Myers’ heart was for God’s church and he pastored several churches in the Chicago area, including Irving Park Baptist Church (1958-1963) and North Shore Baptist Church (1963-1975). It was through his work in the local church that Myers came to know Northern Seminary, and he was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1962. In 1968 he was elected Chairman of the Board, and then in 1975 he was named the seventh President of Northern Seminary. He served until his retirement in 1988.
Former Northern President Ian M. Chapman (1988-2001) remembers Dr. Myers:
“It was a great privilege to follow Bill Myers as president of Northern Seminary. We had been friends for many years and I knew that during the 13 years of his presidency Northern had experienced dramatic growth. His accomplishments include the doubling of enrollment, the creation of the DMin program, and the construction of Lindner Tower. Throughout his tenure he demonstrated a winsome spirit and a sturdy evangelical commitment that blessed us.”
“It was an honor to serve as the chief advancement officer under Dr. Myers leadership. He had a deep and unwavering commitment to Northern’s mission. He modeled building strong and authentic relationships with donors and for many of them provided important pastoral care.”
Myers also served as the Charles W. Koller Chair of Preaching during his time at Northern, and the Doctor of Ministry program was launched under his leadership. Dr. Claude Mariottini knew Dr. Myers for many years and joined Northern’s faculty as a result of his efforts.
“The death of Bill Myers is a great loss for Northern’s community. As President of the seminary, he gained the admiration of the faculty, staff, and students for his pastoral leadership, for his commitment to theological education, and for his love for the church of Jesus Christ. After his retirement, he continued to show his love for the seminary by supporting the institution in many different ways. He was a committed Christian and a genuine friend to all. His words of encouragement motivated people to achieve their best. That was the kind of person Bill Myers was.”
Beth Myers House, daughter of Dr. Myers, paid the following tribute to her father on the day of his death:
“Bill/Dad would always say, ‘To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.’ And his life verse – ‘…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 1:6. Both were achieved this day.”
Funeral services will be held Saturday, January 16 at First Baptist Church, Oak Park and will be officiated by former Northern president, Dr. Ian Chapman. The church is located at 820 Ontario St., Oak Park, IL 60302.
Visitation is from 10:00 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. at the church, with a luncheon beginning at 11:00. The Funeral Service will begin at 1:00 p.m., with a private committal in the afternoon.
Cards can be sent to Gerry Myers at:
120 Windsor Park
Carol Stream, IL 60188
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the William R. & Geraldyne B. Myers Professor of Ministry Chair or the Myers Scholarship Fund at Northern Seminary.
Gifts may be made online. Please select “Other” under designation and write “Myers Chair” or “Myers Scholarship.”
Gifts may also be mailed to:
660 East Butterfield Rd.
Lombard, IL 60148.
Please designate to “Myers Chair” or “Myers Scholarship.”
The Myers Scholarship Fund helps make seminary accessible to gifted students pursuing a Master of Divinity degree in preparation for ministry.
The Myers Chair helps fund a professor who “can think strategically about the new patterns of church life that are emerging, and has a passion for training men and women for effective ministry in a culture that is increasingly post-denominational and post-Christian.” The chair honors Dr. Myers’ service as ministry professor at Northern and his significant impact on countless students.
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