Lamar Williamson, Jr. died peacefully July 11, 2020 at Givens Highland Farms, Black Mountain, NC, at the end of a very full life. He is survived by his children, Fred, Martha, and Allen Williamson and Ruth Simmons; his grandchildren Nathan, Ryan, Rachel, Tim, Ben, Hannah, Will, Sam, Bonnie, Charlie and Michael; and great grandchildren Tucker, Elliot, Emma, Benji, Kaia, Eli, Samuel, Max, and Heidi. Lamar was first and foremost a man of God, whose love of the Lord was seconded only by his love of wife and family, enriched by his love of knowledge and his extraordinary wit. Lamar was born in Monticello, Arkansas on July 24, 1926 to Lamar and Lillian Phillips Williamson. The youngest of four children, he attended Monticello High School and at 16 enrolled in Davidson College, graduating in 1947 after a break in 1945 to serve in the US Army Air Corps. Responding to a call to ministry, Lamar enrolled at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond Virginia, receiving his Master of Divinity in 1952. While there he married Ruthmary Bliss in 1949 and had his first son Fred in 1950. After graduation he worked as a pastor at Hilton Presbyterian Church in Harveyton, Kentucky, and they had two more children, Martha (1953) and Ruth (1955). In 1956 Lamar and Ruthmary accepted a mission appointment to the Belgian Congo. The family lived in Brussels, Belgium, for a year, then moved to Kankinda in the Belgian Congo in the fall of 1957 where Lamar taught at a newly established seminary, the Ecole de Théologie de l’A.P.C.M. During the upheaval of national independence in 1960, the family returned to the United States where Lamar earned his Ph.D. in Religion at Yale. In 1962, they returned to the re-named country of Zaire where Lamar taught 3 more years at the Insitute Supérieur de Théologie in Kananga until the summer of 1965. In 1965 they returned to the States to be with Ruthmary’s mother and settled in Richmond, Virginia, where Lamar served as visiting professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary for 1966-67, and then continued as a professor at Presbyterian School of Christian Education from 1967 to 1992. In 1970 Allen Lamar was adopted, adding a fourth child and some youthful vigor to the family. In 1972-73 he spent his sabbatical year as visiting professor at the Faculté de Théologie Protestante, Kisangani. After retiring in 1992 Lamar and Ruthmary spent two more years in Zaire, teaching at Faculté de Théologie Réformée au Kasai, Kananga. Lamar was also known for his relish of humor and puns, his love of great music and musicianship, and for talking to lurking fish while working his lure. There were numerous family outings to camp or paddle or fish, punctuated by meaningful one-on-one trips with his wife or one of the children. Lamar and Ruthmary then moved to Montreat, NC, to enjoy the home they had spent 20 years building. This labor of love on an extremely steep hillside remained the family focal point until they moved to a more level site at Highland Farms in Black Mountain, NC, where they continued to enjoy a wide circle of friends and associates. Lamar is also known for his two commentaries, Mark, 1989, and Preaching the Gospel of John, 2004. He also self-published a tribute to a former student who was killed in an uprising, Ishaku: An African Between Two Worlds, 1992. Other publications include Prayers for My Village, A Book of Reformed Prayers, Mastering Old Testament Facts, and God’s Work of Art: Images of the Church in Ephesians, Mastering New Testament Fact, and Mastering Old Testament Facts. Lamar stayed active on the Board of Union Presbyterian Seminary long after retirement, as well as remaining in contact with the seminaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo and overseeing the Scholarship Fund he set up in Ishaku’s name. Lamar and Ruthmary were a devoted couple whose lives reflected their faith. They always strove to live the gospel honestly and simply, with humility and respect for all peoples. Their home was always open to a wide range of friends and visitors. They rejoiced in diversity and open minds, but while they enjoyed the world of the intellect, they also fully embraced the world of joy and of service, of music and dance, of Sunday School and Kiwanis Thrift Store, of travel and visiting friends. Lamar stayed active on the Board of Union Presbyterian Seminary long after retirement, as well as remaining in contact with the seminaries in Zaire and overseeing the Scholarship Fund he set up in Ishaku’s name. Due to Covid-19, the celebration of his life service planned to be held at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church must be postponed for some indefinite time, as is the internment of his and Ruthmary’s ashes at Oakland Cemetery, Monticello, Arkansas. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Black Mountain Home for Children, to IMCK.ORG, or to the charity of your choice.
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