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HomeAll The NewsOur Loss, Heaven's Gain (Part 1)

Our Loss, Heaven’s Gain (Part 1)

As we begin 2023, I believe it is good to look back at the previous year and remember all of those we have lost and make a point to pray for those that have lost loved ones. While space does not allow us to run full obituaries for everyone that was lost — full obituaries are reserved for BMA ministers (especially those that served in Arkansas), their immediate family and other BMA leaders — we mourn with each one that has lost a loved one this past year.

As I reviewed the year to prepare this article, I noticed the number of full obituaries we ran in 2022 was down significantly from what we ran in 2021 (19 in 2022 compared to 49 in 2021. The 19 is more in line with the 27 we ran in 2020). This is a significant decrease over the year plagued by the pandemic and resulting deaths. Even with the fewer number, we know each of these families still feels the loss. The following is a review of the full obituaries we ran in 2022. You can find the complete listing by visiting and access the “Obituaries” under the “Resource” link at the top of the page.

Henry Franklin Williams, 89 of Fordyce, passed away Jan. 16. He had served as pastor of Pine Crest Baptist Church since 2002 and was a US Air Force veteran of the Korean War.

Rebekah A. “Becky” Way, 70 of Cave City, passed away Jan. 19. She served with her husband in music and youth ministries throughout their marriage, serving alongside him in churches, youth camps, revivals, organizing children’s choirs and other associated work in BMA and ABA. They most recently served at Beech Street in Crossett. Her love, besides her family, was teaching the Bible and telling others about Jesus. She was active in the WMA and Sunbeam ministries, serving in many offices, including WMA of Arkansas president (2004-2006). She was a member of her home church, Rings Chapel Baptist Church (an ABA congregation) near Cave City (which was founded, in part, by her great-grandfather over 100 years ago), where she played piano and organ and sang. She also taught youth and women’s classes. Becky retired as an insurance agent for Farmers Insurance.

Grace Williamson Branham, 92 of Springdale, passed away on Feb. 4. She was the widow of former BMA of America Missions Director Craig Branham. Bro. Branham pastored churches in Arkansas, Missouri and Texas, including Bethlehem at Greenbrier, Grace at Russellville and Calvary at Heber Springs. He served in many positions in the BMA, including assistant director of Missions for 13 years, director of Missions for 13 years and director of BMA Pastor’s Retirement Fund for over four years. Grace attended Jacksonville Baptist College, in Jacksonville, Texas; Central Baptist College, in Conway and graduated from Arkansas State Teachers College (UCA) in Conway with a degree in education. During her career, she taught at Guy-Perkins Public School, Greenbrier Public School and Pulaski County Special School District.

Merle F. Stuckey, 96 of Nashville, died Feb. 2. She was the widow of A.D. Stuckey, who pastored churches in Texas, Tennessee and Arkansas, including Mountain View at Umpire, Calvary at Fayetteville, Immanuel in Nashville and Grace at El Dorado. She was a member of Immanuel Baptist Church at the time of her death.

Billy Burl Dulaney, 87 of Hope, passed away Feb. 12. He surrendered to preach in 1977 and began pastoring that same year. He pastored a number of churches in Arkansas, including: Patmos in Patmos, County Line in Nashville, New Liberty in Emmet, Western in Emerson and New Hope in Fouke. Bro. Dulaney’s final pastorate was Knighton’s Chapel Baptist Church in Lewisville, where he retired after serving for 21 years.

Larry Clifton Linam, 72 of Texarkana, died March 24. He attended East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas and graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia with a Bachelor of Arts. He did post-graduate studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. At age 17, he was ordained at First in DeKalb, Texas, on July 21, 1969. He preached in churches in both Texas and Arkansas, and his last pastorate was at Shiloh in Waldo (Lamartine) from which he retired on Dec. 31, 2021. Larry was a bi-vocational pastor with a heart for small churches and often had a second occupation while pastoring. In 2010 Larry published a book, The Day the Angels Cried, about the church shooting in Daingerfield, Texas on June 20, 1980, in which his seven-year-old daughter was killed.

Billy Mack Russell, 78 of Bodcaw, passed away May 11. Known by many people as “Bro. Billy” or “Bro. Billy Mack,” he was a faithful member of Corinth Baptist Church, where he pastored for 37 years. Prior to that, he pastored at Laneburg Baptist Church for two years. He retired from Firestone after 37 years of service, and was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting, fishing, gardening and woodworking.

(To be continued in next week’s issue)