These four members of the Perkins community, who touched numerous lives through their many years of service, passed away in recent months.
Former Council of Bishops President William B. Oden passed away on December 22, 2018, in Highlands Ranch, Colo., with his family surrounding him. Bishop Oden was elected to the episcopacy by the South Central Jurisdictional Conference in 1988. He served the Louisiana Conference from 1988-1996 and the North Texas Conference from 1996 until his retirement in 2004. Bishop Oden was president of the Council of Bishops from 2000-2001 and served as the Council’s Ecumenical Officer from 2004-2008. He was well-known to the Perkins and SMU community, having served on the SMU Board of Trustees from 1996 to 2004, as Bishop in Residence for Perkins from 2004 to 2008 and as a member of the executive board for SMU-in-Taos. Bishop Oden’s family asked that in lieu of flowers, gifts be made to the William B. Oden Scholarship at Perkins.
The Rev. Page A. Thomas (B.D. ’61), who served in multiple capacities at Bridwell Library for nearly half a century, including as director of the Center for Methodist Studies, died March 8, 2019, near Fairview, Texas. Thomas was well-known throughout SMU for his enthusiasm, energetic charm, professional integrity and affinity for Western wear. Thomas received a B.A. in 1958 from Hendrix College, where he served as a student pastor and was ordained a Deacon (1959) and Elder (1962) in the North Arkansas Annual Conference. In 1961, he earned a B.D. [M.Div. equivalent] from Perkins. He held the record for the longest single appointment in the United Methodist Church: 46 years at Bridwell Library. Thomas began working at the library just four months after graduating from Perkins. His professional interests included Methodist history, historical research, rare book cataloguing and archaeology. In his free time, he enjoyed blacksmithing, fishing, raising horses and volunteering at the Heritage Farmstead in Plano.
The Rev. Bruce Weaver (B.D. ’47) died on February 18, 2019 in his home in Carrollton, Texas, near Dallas, at the age of 97. He was the Perkins Distinguished Alum in 2001, and a leader in the North Texas conference and the global church. Weaver was the founding leader of the Russia Initiative, reviving Methodism in the former Soviet Union. After his passing, many United Methodists from the U.S. to Russia recalled his long life and ministry with gratitude.
Thomas Kemper, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, called Weaver “one of the most remarkable and effective United Methodist mission leaders of the late 20th century.” The Rev. Sergei Nikolaev, president of Moscow Theological Seminary of The United Methodist Church, called him “the single crucial reason” for the rekindling of Methodism in Russia. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Bruce Weaver Fund at Perkins, or to another charitable cause.
The Rev. Dr. Bert Affleck (B.D. ’58), a retired professor of practical theology and director of supervisory studies at Perkins, died March 13, 2019 at age 84. Affleck began his career as a church pastor, then served as campus minister at McMurry University from 1961-1964. He went on to Drew University, where he earned a Ph.D. in church history, then returned to McMurry for a second lengthy stint as chaplain. He also taught in the Department of Religion and co-wrote a religion textbook, Exploring Religious Meaning, which would go through six editions. At Perkins, Affleck served as Intern Program director through 1997 and directed the Course of Study School. Even in retirement, Affleck found ways to serve, helping with a church start as part of a North Texas Conference.
Affleck’s wife of 61 years, Patsy, was a secretary to the director of Bridwell Library and coordinator of Perkins Chapel before her death in 2016.