Dick Dabney with the Lord

April 23, 2014

Mr. A. Dickinson Dabney, III, Chief Operating Officer from 2005-2011 and Executive Director of Upholding the Truth from 2011 until recently, died on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Mr. Dabney was a key part of Westminster's community through difficult days. Below, read a tribute to him from Dr. Carl Trueman.

A memorial service will be held at Covenant Fellowship Church, One Fellowship Drive, Glen Mills, PA, on Friday, May 2, at 11 a.m.

Please keep the Dabney family and the Westminster community in your prayers as we mourn the loss of this brother in Christ.

From Dr. Trueman

The death of Dick Dabney leaves a gaping hole in the life of Westminster. I first met Dick in 2005 when he arrived as Pete’s [Peter Lillback's] right hand man in administration. Within twelve months, the two of us formed the core of the President’s administrative team on campus, as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Academic Affairs, respectively.

We came into our jobs at a difficult time in the seminary’s history. The two of us had an immediate connection and were to work well together. During our tenure as a team, we made a lot of tough calls, took a lot of unpopular decisions and stood side by side at more than one meeting where we both received some heavy hits because of our commitment to doing what we thought was right. We both joked that we were often the two most hated men on campus. Yet if Dick had not taken those tough decisions, there would be no Westminster today.

In the midst of it all we had fun. I introduced him to haggis, which he found disgusting and swore never to eat again (and, as far as I know, he kept his promise). He introduced me to Texas barbecue which I did eat again, many times. I also remember a number of occasions when we sat in one of our offices, discussing some crisis or item of bad news. For all of the somberness at such time, the meetings would always end with a burst of laughter and a wry reflection on the absurdity of it all. Dick was that rarest of saints: a godly man who did not take himself or his own little world too seriously.

Yet for all of his tough guy persona, I witnessed Dick cry on more than one occasion, when he heard news of an illness on campus or of a personal hardship for an employee or student. I also learned so much from him about how charity and kindness are to shape business decisions. When staff received bonuses or jobs were created or preserved, it was Dick’s hand behind the scenes which made such things possible. His kindness was always unseen, as he modestly wanted it to be. He was no distant boss. He cared deeply for his staff.

It was in 2011-12 that we each separately came to the conclusion that our tasks were done and it was time for a new team to lead the seminary into a new phase of her existence. Starsky and Hutch had done their job, so to speak, and needed to move on to other things, me back to classroom and the pulpit, Dick to Upholding the Truth. We had offices next to each other in the basement and chatted constantly. He remained a source of wisdom and encouragement for me.

When I heard the news of his unexpected death on Wednesday, I felt crushed, saddened at the loss of a dear colleague with whom I had shared so many good and bad times and whose like I would not see again, and devastated for Angela and his daughters and their families at the loss of such a loving husband, father and grandfather. Of course, we have the sure hope of the resurrection; we do not grieve as unbelievers. But we still grieve.