By Hoyt H. Houchen
On Monday morning, May 13, 1 received a telephone call from Texas to tell me that brother Roy Cogdill had passed away the night before (Sunday evening, May 12, at about 11:30).
My first acquaintance with Roy E. Cogdill goes back many years, to the time that I was about nine years of age, possibly 1928. Since that time we have had a close association through the years. We have worked together in several gospel meetings, but we somewhat grew apart in the last few years because of the span of miles between us.
The first recollection of brother Cogdill in my early boyhood years was most impressive. I can well remember my first glimpse of him. He was to preach in a gospel meeting at Alhambra, California. He and his wife (Lorraine) had driven out from Texas in a green Ford coupe, possibly a model A. My parents and I drove to Alhambra that Sunday morning to attend the meeting (I believe it was a tent meeting). In the Bible class sat this young couple, a blond hair young visiting preacher with his attractive and dignified looking wife. I heard his clear, booming voice for the first time as he made some comments about the church at Corinth.
From my earliest impression, Roy Cogdill continued to have a great influence upon me. He was a source of encouragement to me as a boy preacher in southern California and in my preaching years in other places in the years to follow. He was a pillar of strength, firm in his convictions and never hesitated to express them. No one ever had to guess where he stood on any issue. He loved the truth and preached it with force, conviction and simplicity. He was an outstanding speaker, and in my opinion, when he was in his prime he was without a peer in the pulpit.
My wife (Doris) and I had many pleasant associations with Roy and Lorraine Cogdill through the years. We had the privilege of living in the same city that they did on two occasions, both cities in Texas (San Antonio and Lufkin). We took pleasant automobile trips together, and we remember with joy when on a beautiful day we would stop at a roadside park to eat a picnic lunch. Lorraine always wanted me to drive, not that I am such a great driver, but I guess she thought that anybody’s driving was safer than his.
We shared some of the tensions during Lorraine’s illness in the Houston Medical Center. The Cogdills were living in Nacogdoches and we in Lufkin during that time. She departed from this life on Thursday morning, June 23, 1960. Had she lived until July 21st, she and her devoted husband would have celebrated their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. The funeral was conducted in the church building at Mound and Starr (Nacogdoches), James W. Adams, Fanning Yater Tant, and this writer participating. Her frail and worn body was laid to rest in the cemetery at Lufkin, Texas. Brother Cogdill later wrote:
The grief we feel when our loved ones depart to be with the Lord is but selfish. We shrink back from the loneliness and void their going leaves in our lives and know our tremendous loss in the lack of their presence to strengthen and encourage and help us as they have through all of these years of the past. But we strengthen our hearts and mend our spirits, even dry away our tears, in the knowledge that they are as much alive as they have ever been and in the transition are infinitely better for they are free from differing and the heartaches of this life and know only the happiness and bliss of those who have “died in the Lord”(The Gospel Guardian, August 11, 1960, p. 10).
Roy Cogdill had known the Faulkner family who were members of the old Tenth and Francis church in Oklahoma City. Nita Faulkner also lost her companion by death, thus Roy and Nita were later united in marriage. They shared many happy years together, as well as burdens and sorrow due to Roy’s illness in the last few years. Nita was a faithful and beloved wife. Roy once said to us that he did not know how he was so fortunate as to have two such wonderful wives. Nita has two children: Pam and John. Our oldest son, Ron, was with Pam in Florida College in 1962, and he also served as best man at her wedding. Later, Roy and Nita adopted a little boy, Philip, now a grown man.
Roy E. Cogdill not only preached with power, but also employed his pen to express his convictions in defense of the truth. He had occasions to stand upon the polemic platform and “contend earnestly for the faith.” In December 1946, he met D.N. Jackson (Baptist) in Lufkin, Texas. Four propositions were debated, and the speeches were recorded and published in book form. Brother Cogdill, using several charts, did a commendable job in devastating Baptist arguments and defending the truth.
Through the bitter and hard fought controversy on issues confronting the church, Roy Cogdill was prominent on the fieldof battle. In those years his pen was active in the pages of The Gospel Guardian, and his voice was heard in pulpits all over the nation. He was relentless in his opposition to unscriptural practices. There is no question that faithful congregations today are standing for and practicing the truth because of the work done by such men as Roy E. Cogdill.
Agreement was reached in 1957 for Roy E. Cogdill and Guy N. Woods to debate the issues of churches supporting benevolent homes and the Herald of Truth nationwide radio broadcast, also being supported by churches. The discussion was held in the Philips High School auditorium, Birmingham, Alabama (November 19-23, 1957). There were four speeches delivered each night for six nights, each being thirty minutes in length. The speeches were recorded on tape and transcribed. Numerous charts were used in the discussion. Brethren from all over the nation attended the debate, many of us travelling in inclement weather. Many of us believe that brother Cogdill’s opening speech on authority was masterful, and dealt a devastating blow at the very outset to the unscriptural practices being defended by brother Woods. The debate was on a high plane and a definite contribution was made to a study of the issues which divide us. James W. Adams moderated for brother Cogdill and Thomas B. Warren was the moderator for brother Woods. The debate was published in a book (The Cogdill-Woods Debate) and is still available.
We rejoice that an “Appreciation Get Together” was arranged for brother Cogdill in Houston, Tuesday evening, April 23, 1985 on the eve of his seventy-eighth birthday. The occasion was a dutch treat dinner at Luby’s Cafeteria. The tribute was appropriate, as so many of us have benefitted from the fruits of brother Cogdill’s labors for so many years. We regret that he was in poor health the last few years that he was upon this earth. Consequently, must of his preaching was curtailed and especially his gospel meeting work. We extend our thanks to thoughtful brethren who provided the special appreciation night for brother Cogdill, and we are also thankful that he was able to be so honored only a few days before his death. He was moved emotionally by the kind remembrances extended to him by so many. Letters and cards, from even those of us not able to attend, were all bound in a single volume and presented to him on the evening of the get together. He cherished it. Indeed, honor (tribute) was given to one whom it was due (Rom. 13:7).
Roy E. Cogdill was an outstanding and effective preacher of the gospel. Never can we fully appreciate all of his contributions to the cause of truth. He will be missed, but his influence will continue to live. He will ever be regarded by faithful brethren who lived during his lifetime, and by those who read the history of the Lord’s church in his generation as a great defender of the faith.
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 14, pp. 422-423
July 18, 1985