By H.E. Phillips
On Monday morning, May 13th, brother Harold Fite called me and said, “I have some bad news, Roy passed away last night.” For the moment I was shocked and then saddened because I had lost a good friend. This generation has lost one of its most powerful and proficient preachers of the gospel. Indeed, the ranks of the venerable, battle-scarred veterans among those preachers of the old school are growing thin.
Brother Cogdill had been in poor health for some time, but his love for the truth, his desire for the salvation of the lost, and his concern for the purity of the church compelled him to go where he was needed, even when he was not physically able, until he was unable to do so any longer.
When brother James W. Adams called and asked me to write something about Roy E. Cogdill, I told him I would be happy to do so and expressed to him my gratitude for the opportunity. Limited space commands that I omit many significant things that I would otherwise say.
How I Came To Know Roy E. Cogdill
During my first efforts at preaching, I was introduced to Roy E. Cogdill through his writings. I began receiving the Bible Banner in 1938 and have continued to receive it through the Gospel Guardian and now the Guardian Of Truth. I became acquainted with the work and teaching of Roy E. Cogdill through this avenue primarily.
I first heard him preach in 1946. 1 was greatly impressed with his knowledge of and respect for the Holy Scriptures. I admired his plain and direct approach to his subject. No one could listen to Roy Cogdill preach and fail to understand what he said. They may not agree with him, and many did not, but they knew exactly where he stood on any issue to which he addressed himself.
I became better acquainted with him in the mid 1950’s as the church supported institutional battles intensified. I entered the editorial arena in 1960 with the beginning of Searching The Scriptures. In 1965 I sought brother Cogdill’s advice in some areas of editorial judgment and policy. He freely and willingly helped me again and again.
In 1968 brother and sister Cogdill moved to Orlando, Florida, to labor with the Par Avenue church. This afforded me the opportunity to know the man, the preacher, the debater and the friend as never before. During these last eighteen years of his life, my wife and I grew to know and love Roy and Nita Cogdill well and count them among our dearest friends and kinsmen in the Lord.
Roy Cogilill’s Interest In The Work In Italy
Early in 1975 Roy Cogdill met Alessandro Corazza, who was a preacher in Rome, Italy. His association with brother Corazza soon developed an intense interest in the Italian work, which remained until his death. Brother Cogdill put forth a great effort for the work in Italy from his first acquaintance with Alessandro Corazza. He and sister Cogdill made their first trip to Italy in the spring of 1976. On this first visit to Rome, he baptized a young lady by the name of Patrizia who later was married to Arrigo Corazza, oldest son of Alessandro. He made plans to bring Arrigo and Patrizia to the States to attend Florida College. Since Arrigo and Patrizia planned to be married, brother Cogdill insisted that they marry before coming to America.
The next year brother Cogdill and brother James D. Yates returned to Italy during the summer. Again brother Cogdill preached and encouraged the brethren in all of the faithful churches in Italy. Arrigo and Patrizia were already in the Cogdill home. Brother and sister Cogdill studied with them three or four hours each morning during the three or four months they were in their home before coming to Tampa to Florida College. I had a very close relationship with Arrigo and Patrizia Corazza all during the time they were in school because they worshipped at the Fletcher Avenue church where I worked. Because of this relationship, my wife and I became very close to Roy and Nita Cogdill. I love them for their sacrifice and dedication to help a young man and his wife prepare both in education and attitude to preach the gospel in Italy.
Brother Connie W. Adams and I were invited by the brethren in Italy to come in November, 1976, some six months following the first visit by brother and sister Cogdill. We spent two weeks with the churches preaching and encouraging them. We found the influence of Roy Cogdill among the brethren soon after arriving there.
Again in 1977 brother and sister Clifford Bell of Baytown, Texas, and my wife and I visited Italy. I preached in all of the faithful churches and we visited in the homes of . many brethren. I made arrangements on this trip to bring Stefano Corazza, second son of Alessandro, and Gianni Berdim, son of Rodolfo, Berdini, to my home in Tampa to attend Florida College. Brother Harold Fite of Katy, Texas, made arrangements for Atonella Berdini, Gianni’s sister, to also come to the States to attend Florida College. Because of our common responsibility and interest in these five young Italians we had a close personal relationship and had frequent communications with each other.
In 1980 brother Truman Smith and I again visited Italy, Switzerland and Germany to encourage the brethren in these countries and to preach the gospel. On several occasions while in the home of brother and sister Cogdill, the Italian work would be the topic of discusson. Since his last trip to Italy he frequently expressed to me his longing to go back, but his health would never permit him to return. His work still lives in Italy in the labors of those whom he influenced by his preaching and writing.
Roy Cogdill’s Personal Influence Upon My Life
In my sincere judgment Roy E. Cogdill was one of the greatest preachers of this century. He possessed many of the distinguishing qualities of the apostle Paul. I loved him and appreciated him as a preacher for the following reasons:
First, he spoke boldly as he ought to speak (Eph. 6.20). He used great plainness of speech (2 Cor. 3:12). He spoke d6not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1 Thess. 2:4). He preached the word, in season and out of !eason (2 Tim. 4:2). Roy Cogdill did not speak with tongue in cheek, nor did he evade addressing an issue because it was unpopular. I do not have to tell you that if you knew him. He did not intend to hurt anyone, but he would not spare anyone, friend or foe, if the faith was under consideration. I like that, and I found strength and encouragement from him during the days of the bitter conflicts over institutionalism, liberalism and materialism.
Second, Roy E. Cogdill was set for the defense of the gospel any time any where (Phil. 1:17). He believed in the verbally inspired word of God; he believed it was complete, adequate and final as delivered to the saints (Jude 3). He believed all authority, absolute and complete, was in Jesus Christ. He met any opponent of the faith on the polemic platform whenever the occasion arose, and there was never a doubt in the honest heart of his capable defense of the faith once delivered.
Third, Roy Cogdill had no tolerancefor compromise with truth. Many men during the late forties through the seventies compromised the truth for the sake of popularity, money, the choice preaching jobs, and other considerations that caused some of his best friends of long standing to turn against him. This grieved him much, and on occasions he wept because they had left the truth and had turned from him. But there was not an ounce of compromise with truth for any consideration. I loved him for this characteristic.
Fourth, Roy Cogdill spent most of his life studying the Sacred Writings from God. He knew the Scriptures well. He studied thoroughly and in depth. I have a number of recorded sermons and lectures on tape which he gave to me on two occasions when I was in his home a few years ago. I have obtained others over the past 15 years from other sources. I have a number of his books and booklets which I have read with profit. All of these show depth in the study of the word of God. He had the best general understanding of the church, its nature, organization and function of any man I have known.
Now he has finished his course. He has fought a good flight, and he has kept the faith; henceforth, there is laid up for him that crown of righteousness which the Lord has promised at that day, and to all of us who imitate this pattern of the New Testament servant (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
On Saturday, April 20th, before his 78th birthday my wife and I visited in the home of brother and sister Cogdill. I, of course, did not know that it would be the last time I would see him in this life. He was not able to get out of the bed, but we enjoyed a good visit with him. Upon this occasion he talked briefly of his trip to Italy and of his baptizing Patrizia.
Before we left I went back to his bedroom and told him of my appreciation for all his work in the kingdom, for his defense of the faith through the years, and for all that he had done for me. I told him that his writings and his influence would continue to teach thousands after he was called from this life. He spoke some warm and encouraging things to me, and I prayed with him and gave thanks to God for his work as a minister of Christ for over 60 years, and for his influence upon my life for good. He wept as I kissed his cheek and wished him a happy birthday. My life has been blessed because Roy E. Cogdill lived.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psa. 116:15).
“Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works follow them” (Rev. 14:13).
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 14, pp. 425-426, 436
July 18, 1985