Baylor's Beloved Chaplain Emeritus WJ Wimpee Dies

Dec. 2, 2002
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Dr. WJ Wimpee, retired administrator and chaplain emeritus at Baylor University, died Sunday, Dec. 1, at a Waco hospital. He was 84.

Services were held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, at First Baptist Church, Waco, with burial following at Oakwood Cemetery. Visitation was held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, in the Paul W. Powell Chapel at George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

"Dr. Wimpee loved this university. There was never a more loyal supporter of Baylor through the administrations of Pat Neff, W.R. White, Judge McCall, Herbert Reynolds and Robert Sloan," said Dr. Rufus Spain, director of Baylor's Retired Professors and Administrators program and retired professor of history.

"Dr. Wimpee was one of the most influential men ever to walk across

Baylor's campus," Dr. Sloan said. "His name, his very image, are

synonymous with Baylor. It will be hard to imagine our campus without

his presence."

Devoting more than 50 years to Baylor, Dr. Wimpee served in a variety of leadership roles and in the administration of four university presidents before his retirement in 1989.

A native of Kaufman, Dr. Wimpee enrolled at Baylor in 1936 and immediately became a campus leader. He served as a class officer all four years of his undergraduate career and played end of two on the university's great pre-World War II football squads. He also was president of Baylor's Chamber of Commerce his senior year.

Graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1940, Dr. Wimpee entered Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, earning a master's degree in 1943 and a doctorate in theology five years later.

He served as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dayton, from 1943 to 1945 when Baylor President Pat Neff appointed him director of religious activities at Baylor. In 1948, Baylor President W.R. White named Dr. Wimpee the first chaplain in the university's history.

In 1955, he was appointed executive assistant to the president and played a major role in Baylor's expanding programs in international exchange programs, spending 10 months at Hong Kong Baptist University as a teacher and adviser to the administration between 1960-61. Additionally, during his 44 years of service, Dr. Wimpee worked as a fundraiser, student counselor and professor of religion.

Shortly after his retirement in 1989, Dr. Wimpee returned to his alma mater as director of the Baylor Retired Professors and Administrators Program. He served with distinction in that capacity for nearly 10 years, visiting retired professors and administrators in hospital, retirement residences and in their homes. Dr. Wimpee also prepared a monthly newsletter to keep them in touch with one another and informed about campus activities.

In addition to his Baylor duties, Dr. Wimpee served numerous churches as interim pastor and frequently officiated at weddings, funerals and other occasions. A longtime Mason and Rotarian, he also worked through the years with several Waco and Central Texas area community service groups, including the American Cancer Society and the YMCA.

Dr. Wimpee is survived by his wife, the former Lillian Wilkins, who he met while a student at Southwestern Seminary; daughter Gayle West and her husband, Judge David West, of Pasadena; daughter Deborah Stinnett and her husband, Dr. Mitchell Stinnett, of Joplin, Mo.; daughter Dayna Schwartze and her husband, Dr. Mark Schwartze, of Waco; and 10 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

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