Alumni/ae Obituaries

Rev. William L. Childers (M. Th. ‘61) was born in Anniston, Ala., in 1931 and died in Dallas in July 2018. He served for 21 years as a Navy Chaplain and three years as a Marines Staff Sergeant during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He was predeceased by his wife of 57 years (Mamie Lou) Tommie Childers. Services were held in August at First UMC in Dallas.

Rev. Barbara Erickson Harper (M. Th. ’78) died March 30, 2018, on Good Friday, after a brief hospital stay. She enrolled in Birmingham-Southern College in 1964 and married husband Mike on June 9, 1968, the day following their graduation. They travelled to Dallas where Mike began seminary and Barbara did likewise a few years later. Following her ordination, Barbara served as an associate at Birmingham First United Methodist Church, an associate at Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church, the pastor of the Valley United Methodist Church, the Superintendent of the Tuscaloosa district, the co-pastor with Mike of the Asbury United Methodist Church, the district superintendent of the Birmingham West district, and as pastor of the Helena United Methodist Church. She retired in 2008. Barbara was the first female District Superintendent in the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Rev. Robert I. Phelps (Master of Sacred Theology ’65) died August 24, 2018 in Billings, Montana. He was ordained in the Methodist Church in 1959. In 1961, after two years serving in the North Texas Conference, he and his wife Alita moved to Montana, where he served in the Yellowstone Conference until his formal retirement in the summer of 2000. His ministerial appointments included Plains/Paradise, Big Sandy, Covenant/East Helena, Bozeman, Great Falls First, Missoula District Superintendent, Missoula First, and Polson churches.

Rev. Jarrell Leon Tharp (M. Th. ’63), died May 24, 2018. He was ordained Deacon in 1960 then Elder in 1963. He served several churches in Texas and transferred to the Yellowstone Conference in 1970, where he was appointed to Powell, Wyoming. He also served as Billings District Superintendent and UMC of the Tetons in Jackson, Wyoming. After retiring in 1995, he moved back to Powell.