Dr. James W. Cecil, 82, a resident of rural Vienna, Illinois and a former resident of Mayfield, KY, passed from this life to his heavenly home Tuesday morning, January 29, 2013, at 4:52 AM at his home near Vienna.
“Brother Jim,” as he was affectionately known to many, was born October 10, 1930 at Harper Springs (Howard County) Arkansas. He was the son of James R. & Ruth P. (Daniel) Cecil.
Dr. Cecil was united in marriage to Katharine Mae Gardner on January 8, 1955 in Flagstaff, Arizona. She preceded him in death on February 16, 2004. He was later united in marriage to Mary Frances (nee Fields) Benson on August 28, 2004 in Fountain Hills, Arizona. She survives.
Brother Jim is also survived by his children Naomi Capps of Mayfield, Kentucky, Kristina (Johan) Bosch of Gothenburg, Sweden, and Vickie (Gayland) Jessen of Kaysville, Utah; step-children Jerry (Debbie) Benson of Marshall, Texas, Gary (Lisa) Benson of Litchfield Park, Arizona, Larry (Darlene) Benson of Glendale, Arizona; grandchildren Jason Cecil of Omaha, Nebraska, Geina Young of Kaysville, Utah, Jennifer Jessen of Kaysville, Utah, Rustin Jessen of Kaysville, Utah; 9 step grandchildren; 8 great grandchildren; 14 step great grandchildren; a brother Lynn T. (Suzie) Cecil of Mesa, Arizona; a daughter-in-law – Evelyn Cecil of Wilmington, North Carolina; nieces, nephews, cousins, and a host of other relatives and many dear friends and associates, who’s life he has touched through his ministry.
In addition to his parents and his first wife Kay, Dr. Cecil was preceded in death by a son John C. Cecil; an infant son Recey Cecil; 2 brothers Richard Cecil and Dale Cecil and 3 brothers who preceded in childhood.
Brother Jim was a 1949 graduate of the McNary, Arizona High School. He served honorably in the U.S. Air Force from 1949-1953.
Dr. Cecil earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1957 from the North Arizona University in Flagstaff. In 1960, he received a Master of Divinity Degree from Southern Baptist theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Later, he received a Master of Christian Education (1965) and Educational Specialist (1966). He earned his Doctorate of Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. Dr. Cecil continued his post graduate studies through Murray State University.
Brother Jim devoted his life to Christian Ministry. He was a “man of God” in the truest sense of the word and exemplified his love for his Lord and for people through his life and service. He was an inspiring and motivational pastor to churches in Arizona, Illinois, Kentucky, Utah, and in China. He served from 1967-1993 through the Foreign Mission Board. From 1967-1978, he and Kay served abroad as Southern Baptist missionaries to Hong Kong. Upon his return from international service, Dr. Cecil served as a consultant for volunteer ministries and laity abroad as well as a Foreign Mission Board liaison with Baptist state conventions.
In 1993, his love of education led him to join the academic staff of Mid-Continent University in Mayfield, Kentucky. He served as Professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Education until 1996. He then served as Academic Dean of the Baptist College of the Bible until 2004. At that time, Dr. Cecil assumed the chair of the Missions and Evangelism Department, a position he held throughout the remainder of his life.
From 1976-1993, Dr. Cecil served on the Southern Baptist Convention Task Force for Volunteers in Missions. Later, he served as a trustee for the North American Mission Board from 2006-2009.
Locally, Dr. Cecil served as pastor of First Baptist Church, Vienna, Illinois from 1994-1997, later returning to serve from 2001-2005. In the twilight of his ministry, Dr. Cecil assumed the pastorate of the Simpson Missionary Baptist Church, Simpson, Illinois in December 2011. This was a position he held for the remainder of his life of service.
Dr. Cecil joined the Masonic fraternity in 1967. He was a member of Vienna Masonic Lodge # 150 AF&AM.
Masonic Rites will be conducted at 7 PM Thursday, January 31, 2013, at the First Baptist Church, 301 North 7th Street, Vienna, Illinois. 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.
Visitation will be from 4 PM – 7 PM Thursday, January 31, 2013, at the First Baptist Church.
A Graveside Committal Service will be conducted Saturday morning, February 2, 2013, at 10 AM 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.
To share a memory of Dr. Cecil or to leave an online message of condolence for his family, please visit www.baileyfh.com