On April 28, 2016, faculty, staff, and family gathered to honor Dr. Dick Emmons ’67, professor of Bible and doctrine, who is retiring this year after 31 years of teaching at Cairn University. Serving his first two years as the director of continuing education, Dr. Emmons transitioned to full-time teaching in the School of Divinity in 1987.
To start the afternoon, Dr. Jonathan Master (Dean, School of Divinity) shared his perspective as one of Dr. Emmons’ former students, his colleague, and most recently, his dean. He also read from a letter written by Dr. Emmons’ wife of 50 years, Fran, about her husband’s character and work ethic. Afterward, each of the Emmons’ sons spoke about their father as a parent and as a professor, followed by President Dr. Williams.
Dr. Master set the tone for the event, the first to mention Dr. Emmons’ unwavering commitment to the Word of God, his thorough explanations of the Bible as a whole, and the detailed charts for which his Introduction to Bible class was known (and sometimes dreaded). “It was clear that Dr. Emmons was a Bible man through and through,” he remarked. In the excerpt read from Mrs. Emmons’ letter, his sons’ fond nickname for him — “The Machine” — highlighted a consistent theme throughout the event: Dr. Emmons’ steadfastness and discipline.
After reading from 2 Timothy 3:14-17, the Emmons’ younger son, David, shared about his parents’ passion for evangelism. “No matter where we go, they talk to people about Jesus. Sometimes,” he joked, “I’m like, ‘Can we just eat this meal at Applebee’s? Do we have to do this right now?’” Throughout his speech, the sons’ affection, humorous closeness, and high esteem for their father was touchingly evident.
The Emmons’ older son, Daniel, also spoke with humor and emotion, first reminding everyone of his father’s agricultural background: “My dad was a man’s man, you know — up at 4 in the morning, milking the cows, walking uphill in the snow to and from school both ways.” However, when it came to sharing verses that characterize his father’s life (1 Cor. 15:58 and Prov. 11:19), his deep respect for his father was so heartfelt that he needed to pause numerous times to collect himself.
In closing, Dr. Williams shared his own story of his beginnings as a married transfer student at Cairn — a time when Dr. Emmons proved very influential. “I took as many classes with Dr. Emmons as I could,” he explained. “Dick’s love for the Word was very evident, but what also stood out to us was his skill with it. I used to marvel at how, from a very simple, brown-covered NASB, he could teach for hours with no notes.” However, he pointed out, “It’s not just that Dick knew and loved the Bible; he knew and loved the God of the Bible.”
In sharing his own perspective on his career, Dr. Emmons’ Christ-centered humility was evident. “No matter how many years we walk with the Lord, we still have a lot to learn,” he said. “It’s just amazing — I’m just a farm boy. I never envisioned this kind of thing. I grew up on the farm. I was happy on the farm. I still bring a little bit of it to work with me everyday — that old truck I drive. But Isaiah 55 says, ‘My ways are not your ways, and My thoughts are not your thoughts.’ My time here at Cairn has been a profound blessing to me.”
Dr. Emmons has been a steadfast and supportive member of our faculty at Cairn for over three decades, committed to the Word of God, his family, his students, and those under whom he has served. We are grateful to God for his influence here, and we look forward to what God will do in and through his life in the coming years.