Few people have had as many job titles – and as much of an impact – at University of Mobile as Dr. Fred Lackey, who died on July 2 at the age of 81.
Kevin Wilburn ’99, UM vice president for advancement, listed just a few of Lackey’s official and unofficial titles during a Celebration of Life service July 6 at Clements Baptist Church in Athens, AL, where “Bro. Fred” served as associate/executive pastor.
“His official title at University of Mobile was ‘special assistant to the president,’” Wilburn said. “He had also served as a trustee, he coordinated our Board of Regents, he served as the interim vice president of development. He was a professor – he taught me evangelism. He was an advisor; he was a trusted friend.
“I think, above all those titles, he enjoyed being the encourager, the hugger, the supporter. A friend – unconditionally. That’s who Bro. Fred is,” Wilburn said. “Long before there was a Dr. Fred and Sue Lackey Scholarship Fund, there was a ‘hey, Bro. Fred, I need some help’ fund.”
Lackey loved the University of Mobile, Wilburn said. And, he loved people.
Wilburn was one of 10 high school students Lackey brought to UM in 1995 for a campus visit. Nine enrolled and graduated, and many of them are now leading their own churches. Over the years, he brought hundreds of students to UM, criss-crossed the state raising friends and funds, and took a personal interest in students, faculty and staff.
“When Bro. Fred was talking to you, you were the only one in the room,” Wilburn said.
Lackey had more than 60 years in the ministry, including leadership positions at the highest levels of Alabama Baptist and Southern Baptist Convention life. He served the university for three decades and with three presidential administrations in various volunteer, full-time and part-time capacities.
“Dr. Lackey has been a pillar for the University of Mobile for several decades through his support to the President’s office, in the community, and in churches throughout Alabama. I have been moved by his heart for the Lord and his desire to serve others. He is indeed a man who will be greatly missed in the university and many communities throughout Alabama,” said UM President Dr. Tim Smith.
A 2014 article in the University of Mobile Magazine announcing the establishment of the Dr. Fred and Sue Lackey Memorial Scholarship captured Lackey’s energetic embrace of life and passion for sharing God’s love with every person he met. Calling himself “the Chief Resident Hugger of the University of Mobile,” Lackey said then, “I love people, and I’ve discovered this – it’s hard to oppose love.”
He also loved fun.
“Being a Christian is fun to me. Preaching is fun to me. Sunday School is fun to me. Life is fun to me,” he explained.
A native of Alabama, Lackey grew up in the Cheaha Mountains of Talladega County, graduated from Munford High School, and married Sue – a nearly 62-year union at the time of his death.
Lackey received his education from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama; Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky; and Luther Rice Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia. He earned a Bachelor of Science, Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Ministry.
He was active in the Southern Baptist denomination on the local, state and national level, having served as president and vice president of the Alabama Baptist Convention, president of the Alabama Baptist Pastor’s Conference, trustee of the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home, and as a chairman of the Executive Committee and member of the Administrative Committee of the Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. In 1990 he was named “Man of the Year” by the Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission.
He has served four churches in his career: Calvary Baptist in Prattville, Alabama; First Baptist Church of Athens, Alabama; Westside Baptist Church of Jasper, Alabama, and Clements Baptist Church in Athens, Alabama.