Early Monday morning, April 5, 2021, a 46-year thread running from the very first days of Tennessee Bible College was broken when angels of the Lord came for brother Paul Wilmoth (Luke 16:22). He passed from this life in a peaceful sleep at his home in Sparta. He was 77 years old. Brother Paul was one of the first students to enroll in TBC back in 1975.
Over the years Paul Wilmoth was a student earning the Bachelor of Religious Education Degree, a church relations and program promoter for the college, always a supporter, and for the last ten years a member of the faculty holding the position Instructor of Preaching. When brother Paul left this world he had been a preacher of the gospel of Christ for 60 years. Forty-six of those years he was connected to TBC and over thirty-six years he served the Northeast church of Christ in Cookeville. At the time of his death, he was the longest continuously tenured preacher in the church of Christ in Putnam County Tennessee.
He passed from life in the same way he lived and worked through life—quietly. Paul was not a boisterous man. He did his work and did it thoroughly and well, but never called any attention to himself either by boasting or by complaining. For over 30 years he wrote a weekly column for the Northeast congregation bulletin which was widely read and often complimented. He held many Gospel Meetings and spent many years helping churches who needed a preacher. Paul was a student almost to his last day—always trying to learn and improve himself for better, more efficient work in the kingdom of God. In his later years he willed himself to learn and become proficient in Greek. With the advancement of technology in the world, he learned to prepare his own slideshow presentations, determining to be proficient to the point that he need not ask anyone for help. He was actively teaching in the online campus of the College through last year and always studying his Bible. When he spoke he had something worthy of hearing. When he taught he had his material thoroughly sourced, “chock-full” to the overflow with textual references. If you wanted to know something about his lesson, oftentimes he’d just hand you the notes and say if I can help more, let me know. He was a humble servant of the Lord.
In addition to his years of preaching, he served and retired from Tennessee Technological University serving 40 years as TTU postmaster. He enjoyed following Tech basketball, loved major league baseball and spent one Sunday afternoon each year watching golf—the championship final round of the Masters. Back in his youth as a student, he made spending money caddying at the Cookeville Country Club. An avid reader, he spent hours every day reading brotherhood journals, publications, and Bible commentaries. He enjoyed just being home with family, playing games with the grandchildren, and going on adventures with his wife Shirley.
Will he be missed? You better believe it. More than anyone will know right now, because the work he did often went unnoticed. He was an anchor for the Northeast congregation. Many mission trips and other good works could not have happened without him. He served 30 years with Malcolm Hill and made it possible for brother Hill to travel for TBC. Hill said often, “You can always count on brother Paul.” That statement was also made regarding his doing what was right. If brother Paul knew the truth he was going to follow it wherever it led.
A servant, family man, friend, brother and soldier of the Cross has fallen in spiritual Israel. His work and example will not soon be forgotten by family, colleagues, and friends (Rev. 14:13). As he was losing his battle with cancer, he stated several times in recent days that he was ready to go and be with the Lord. Confident in the promises of God, he is at home at rest, realizing the reward for which he has worked all his life. May God’s blessings be upon those who wait: his wife Shirley, their children and grandchildren, his brother Carl, and upon his Christian family. The thread has been broken along with the “silver cord loosened” (Ecc. 12:6).
David Hill, President of Tennessee Bible College