Bennie Lee Fudge Passes
O. C. Birdwell
On Monday, February 7, 1972, at approximately 3:30 P.M., the body of Benjamin L. Fudge, known to thousands throughout the World as Bennie Lee Fudge, was laid to rest in Roselawn Cemetery in Athens, Alabama. It is indeed fitting that the place of his interment is within sight of both the Eastside church building and Athens Bible School. Brother Fudge served for many years as an evangelist for the Eastside Church, and Athens Bible School is the fulfillment of his own dream. He was one of the founders of the school and served as its first Dean. He later was President of the school for several years, and in more recent years has served almost continuously as a member of its Board of Directors. As George O. Williams, Jr., was heard to say the day of the funeral, "Athens Bible School stands as a memorial to Bennie Lee Fudge." No one doubts that he, more than any other man, is responsible for the school today being under the control of faithful brethren. Had brother Fudge gone with the liberal movement, it would have been a lost cause.
I have never attended a more moving funeral service than the one for brother Fudge. Hundreds filed by to pay their heartfelt respect. Preachers, elders, deacons, students, members of the church and nonmembers, all in one accord expressed by their words, tears, and actions this sentiment, "This man has touched my life, and I am eternally grateful unto God for it."
Participating in the service were brethren Doyle Banta, Irven Lee, A. J. Rollings, R. L. Andrews, and Sewell Hall. Through tear dimmed eyes and with somewhat wavering voices the assembly joined in songs of praise unto God, directed by brother Clinton Brackeen. Doyle Banta told of what Bennie Lee had meant to him. He spoke of him as a loyal friend, an able counselor, a Bible scholar, a preacher and debater, and a man of great and abiding faith in God. R. L. Andrews eloquently spoke of the wisdom of God as being far superior to that of man. He sad that from man's viewpoint, there are many men the cause of Christ could more easily do without at this present time than Bennie Lee Fudge. He stated his belief that God raises men up to do His work and that He had so raised up Bennie Lee from obscurity to do the great work he had done. I, with many others who sat in the audience, being born in Limestone County, Alabama and living all my early life in that general area, know firsthand about the work of which he spoke. No one has ever been more at ease, or more powerful, before a radio microphone with an open Bible before him than Bennie Lee Fudge. For years he had a daily radio program in Athens known as "Spiritual Guidance." There was a time when this program could be heard in almost any home one might enter in a reasonable distance from Athens on any given day. Brother Fudge had a continuous backlog of questions from listeners which he answered in a kind, firm, and scriptural way. There were debates with Adventists, Mormons, digressives, and many others who did not respect the authority of the Scriptures. This is just some of the great work of which brother Andrews spoke.
Brother Irven Lee read the scriptures, made a brief comment, and brother A. J. Rollings lead a prayer. Both of these men are long-time associates of brother Fudge, and served with him in the first administration of Athens Bible School. Brother Sewell Hall made the concluding remarks. He said that the sentiments of the Fudge family and brother Fudge toward any of his attainments were expressed in a statement reported as made by Brother Henry Ficklin. Brother Ficklin was once written to about his credentials and accomplishments. His response was, "Tell them I am a sinner saved by grace." No one was more aware of this than brother Fudge, and no one preached it more fervently.
As I consider the unusually large number of faithful brethren and churches in Limestone County, and as I think about the many preachers who have come from the area who have taken a firm stand against current liberalism, I ask the question, "Why have so many from this area stood for truth?" And, to me, the answer, more than any other, has to be, "Bennie Lee Fudge!" His life will continue to speak in this area for many years.
Brother Fudge is survived by his devoted and godly wife, Sybil, five sons, one daughter, and other close relatives. May God bless and comfort them in this time of sorrow.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 19, pp. 3-4