PHILADELPHIA (BRN) — The Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey (BRN) is saddened by the loss of Dr. Frederick Boehlke, 95, who served as a historian, authoring the Network’s history in the 1996 publication, From Generation to Generation: A History of Southern Baptists in Pennsylvania/South Jersey.
A long-time friend of the Network, Dr. Boehlke served as history professor and chairman of the Social Science Division of Judson College in Marion, Alabama, 1958-70; as professor of history, Eastern Baptist College (later University), 1967-2010; and later as faculty secretary, registrar, and university archivist at Eastern University, which established an award for an outstanding student in history in his honor. He was awarded emeritus status on his retirement in 2019.
A native of Philadelphia, born March 6, 1926, Boehlke earned associate, baccalaureate, master, and doctor of philosophy degrees by 1958 from the University of Pennsylvania. He also earned a bachelor of divinity degree from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1952.
Boehlke attended Trinity Baptist Church in Philadelphia, under the leadership of Pastor Bob Hurd, and more recently at Paoli Community Church, where this “man of God” was a very active member for many years, said Cindy Mauldin, fellow church member.
For the last several years, Dr. Boehlke lived at The Wayne Center near Eastern University’s St. David’s campus.
“Dr. Boehlke was a committed friend and advocate of the work of the BRN. He diligently labored over the years to ensure that the legacy of the BRN would be conveyed for generations to come,” shared BRN Executive Director Barry Whitworth.
“Dr. Boehlke’s commitment to communicating the story of all that God has done throughout Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey Baptists in the 20th century has already generated an interest for our team to be committed to sharing the good news of all that God has wrought in the 21st century. What Dr. Boehlke started, we will continue.”
Whitworth added, “It just somehow seems fitting to celebrate his homecoming to heaven in our 50th year anniversary as the BRN. He wrote about the early years of the BRN, now it’s our turn to continue writing God’s story. Well done, Dr. Boehlke! We will continue your legacy of telling the story of God’s goodness in future generations to come.”
Stan Smith, former BRN associate director, remembers meeting Dr. Boehlke in 1975, when he began serving as the clerk for the Delaware Valley Baptist Association and continued serving as the Greater Philadelphia Baptist Association was formed. They were the last officers of an Association “owned” church building for several years, where they worked together.
Smith said Boehlke also “received incredible joy in serving as the historian and later archivist for the [then] Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania-South Jersey. Writing the history of the convention with incredible detail and thoroughness truly was his magnum opus! He was thrilled to follow-up doing the written history with forming the convention’s first archives.”
Calling Dr. Boehlke “a brilliant man,” Smith said the professor’s knowledge of church history and the ability to integrate it in his conversations and life was “amazing.”
“For all of his appearance as a professor, he had a keen sense of humor. He brought great intelligence and wisdom to his speaking and interspersed it with his dry wit,” said Smith.
“In my life, Fred is one of the premiere examples of the faithful servant doing whatever is needed. Very seldom did he get the attention and recognition that he deserved, but he did not seek it. He just faithfully, quietly and humbly served the Lord to the very end. A dear man and a hero of Southern Baptist life in Pennsylvania-South Jersey is now with the Lord. Well done, faithful servant! Well done!”
The BRN, who is very thankful for the legacy left by Dr. Boehlke and looks forward to a beautiful reunion in heaven, has made a donation to Eastern University in Dr. Boehlke’s memory.
A graveside service will be held Friday, April 16, 1:30 p.m. at Northwood Cemetery 1501 Haines Street, Philadelphia, PA 19126. Gravesite is in section Ivy North (back of cemetery). Entry gate to cemetery is on 15th Street (before getting to Haines Street).
Photo courtesy of Eastern University.