Mid-Continent's Dr. James Cecil Dead at 82
By WestKyStar Staff
MAYFIELD, KY - A beloved member of the faculty at Mid-Continent University, Dr. James Cecil, died Tuesday morning from pancreatic cancer at the age of 82.
Cecil joined the faculty at Mid-Continent University (then Mid-Continent Baptist College of the Bible) on July 1, 1993. He served as Professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Education until 1996, then served as Academic Dean until 2004. At that time, Cecil assumed the chair of the Missions and Evangelism Department, a position he held throughout the remainder of his life, along with Dean Emeritus of MCU.
He was born in Arkansas on Oct. 10, 1930, and served in the U.S. Air Force from 1949-1953. After graduating from Northern Arizona University with an accounting degree, he was a partner at an accounting firm in Flagstaff, AZ. He served in ministry after he attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he earned the Master of Religion Education, Master of Divinity, and The Graduate Specialist in Education, degrees. He earned the Doctor of Education Degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth Texas, and has done post-Doctoral studies at Murray State University. He served 26 years with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, including 12 years in China and 14 years as an international consultant on volunteerism.
Cecil has served as Pastor in several churches, most recently Simpson Baptist Church in Simpson, IL, where he planned to attend be on Sunday. Many friends and faculty from Mid-Continent University attended the service, hoping to worship with Cecil one more time, since he knew this might be his last Sunday. Sadly, he was not able to attend due to his condition, so his friends worshipped with his congregation and lifted him in prayer.
This love and respect for Cecil comes from working with him while he served Mid-Continent for the past 20 years. Jamie Hughes, who works in the Admissions Department of MCU, told WestKentuckyStar that many counted Cecil as a favorite teacher, and he will be greatly missed at the school for his wisdom and his love.
Dr. Cecil is survived by his wife, Mary Frances (nee Fields) Benson, whom he married in 2004. His first wife of 49 years, Katharine Mae Gardner, preceded him in death. He was also preceded in death by 2 sons and five brothers.
Besides his wife, he is survived by a brother, a daughter-in-law, three daughters, three sons, 13 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 4 – 7 pm Thursday, January 31, at First Baptist Church, 301 North 7th Street, Vienna, Illinois.
Masonic Rites will be conducted at 7 PM Thursday, January 31, at First Baptist Church, A Worship Service honoring Dr. Cecil’s life will immediately follow. The service will conclude with military flag presentation by the Illinois National Guard Burial Honors Detail.
A Graveside Committal Service will be conducted Saturday morning, February 2, at 10 pm at Cecil Chapel Cemetery near Mena, Arkansas.
Memorials are suggested to the Dr. James W. Cecil Baptist College of the Bible (Scholarship Fund), c/o Mid-Continent University, 99 East Powell Road, Mayfield, KY 42006 or to the Simpson Baptist Church, PO Box 102, Simpson, IL 62985.