By Ron Halbrook
When a person has spent many years serving the cause of righteousness, it may be truly said, “A gray head is a crown of glory” (Prov. 16:31; 20:29). Our culture is so youth oriented that we may fail to honor those who have gone before us, aided us in our labors, and helped to prepare many of the opportunities for good which we have today. G.W. Riggs (1867-1952) rendered invaluable service to the cause of Christ by preaching the gospel in California during the early 1900s. His work was made possible largely through the gracious support of Michael Sanders, a successful businessman and a zealous Christian (Gospel Guardian, I May 1952, pp. 2,5). George Pepperdine (1866-1962) also gave large sums of money to aid the cause of truth in the same state. Another such businessman who has encouraged the cause of Christ in California and elsewhere for many years is Theron N. Bohannan, with his faithful wife Lennis. Their love for the gospel, their efforts to spread it, and their sacrifices in the support of its friends bless the world beyond the value of dollars and cents.
“Brother Bo,” as he is affectionately known to his friends, came from a family which served the Lord. His parents, Thomas Filmore and Clara (Powell) Bohannan, were active Christians who instilled the gospel in their son’s heart. Also, in the Bohannan lineage, there is a long history of interest in gospel preaching and teaching through the printed page. Theron’s father had two brothers who preached and wrote. James L. Neal published a journal called The Gospel Age for a number of years from Springdale, Arkansas. Its pages included articles from Theron’s father and uncles, and even a cousin named Ray. The most active writer was Theron’s uncle, Walter Nelson, who gave his middle name to Theron. By printer’s errors, both the father’s initials T.F. and the son’s T.N. appeared in The Gospel Age as T.H. Bohannan at times. The who le issue for I September 1954 contains articles and reports by W.N. and Ray.
The Bohannan family read the Bible Banner (1938-49) as published by Foy E. Wallace, Jr. and Roy E. Cogdfll and the Bohannan name occasionally graced the pages of the Banner’s successor, the Gospel Guardian (see articles by W.N., 15 Dec. 1949, p. 6; Oct. 1950, p. 11; and 24 July 1952, p. 3; by T.F., 28 Jan. 1954, p. 12, and 27 June 1963, p. 2). Theron had the highest regard for the good accomplished by the Gospel Guardian in the 1950s during the dark days of the rise of institutionalism among the churches. He was so disappointed with the softness and error on grace and unity which marred the journal during the late 1960s and early 70s that he joined with 16 other purchasers to buy the paper in 1974. A new editor was chosen and the paper greatly improved. In May of 1975 Theron bought out the other owners and continued to chart the Guardian’s course by the standard of divine truth. His longtime friend James W. Adams became editor and Cogdill an associate editor. As these three men promised in the issue of 15 September 1975, the Guardian once again rang with the certain sound of truth. But after rive years of this labor of love, the burdens on all three men had become so great that the Gospel Guardian and Truth Magazine merged to become the Guardian of Truth with the 1 January 1981 issue.
For many years, brother Bo has served with distinction on the board of the Cogdill Foundation which became the Guardian of Truth Foundation. Not only has Theron aided the board by giving of his time, money, and counsel, but also he and his wife have been ambassadors of good will by distributing literature and informing brethren of the services of our journal and bookstore during their extensive travels around the country, especially in the northwest. By the unanimous decision of the board during its meeting 2-3 December 198 1, the efforts of Theron and Lennis were given special notice through a letter and a plaque expressing the board’s appreciation (pictured in Aug. 1982 Guardian of Truth, p. 472).
Now we mark another milestone. Years of toil, sacrifice, and trouble took their toll, causing brother Cogdill to resign from the board in 1980. Similarly, brother Bohannan submitted his resignation to the 28 January 1986 board meeting, adding,
My brethren and past co-workers in teaching the truths of God via the printed page, we shall continue to remember you in our prayers and covet your prayers as the clock of time runs on and on till the sun of our lives sets.
I just don’t know how to say GOOD-BYE to all of you so we shall just say, “SO LONG, FOR NOW.”
The board responded by unanimously expressing its great appreciation for his years of service and for everything he has done in helping this Foundation to go forward in its work of providing gospel literature. “We regret the toll taken by his many years of toil and sacrifice, and unite in the prayer that his health Will improve so that he will have many more active years in the cause of Christ.” A beautiful plaque has been presented to brother and sister Bohannan with the following inscription:
BY UNANIMOUS RESOLUTION OF THE
GUARDIAN OF TRUTH FOUNDATION
On January 28th 1986
IN LOVING HONOR OF
THERON N. & LENNIS BOHANNAN
FOR THEIR MANY YEARS OF SERVICE
AND SACRIFICE IN
HELPING TO PROVIDE
GOSPEL LITERATURE INCLUDING
THE GOSPEL GUARDIAN, TRUTH MAGAZINE,
AND THE GUARDIAN OF TRUTH.
Too often we are unaware of our debt to brethren who have helped us in the cause of truth behind the scenes – people like the Michael Sanders, the J.W. Akins (1873-1960 ., who established the Akin Fund to help struggling preachers), the Theron Bohannans, and others like them. Being in the public eye, preachers and elders are often recognized and commended (or criticized and condemned). But many of the accomplishments of preachers and other brethren, along with many of the tools used in their labors, are made possible by the financial and other contributions of generous brethren like the Bohannans. Publishing religious journals, books, tracts, and class materials is extremely expensive. Error never wants for money, propagators, and followers, but brethren teaching the truth always seem to struggle against tremendous odds. It has ever been so, but God raises up people who are willing to spend and be spent in the support of truth, financially and in other ways. A conservative estimate of the money the Bohannans have put into publishing gospel literature which they deemed important -including the Gospel Guardian, Truth Magazine, Guardian of Truth, the “Truth In Life” classroom materials, and the preparation of a biography of Roy Cogdill – would be easily $150,000.00! Keep in mind that this takes no account of what they have used in helping churches, supporting preachers, or aiding other worthy endeavors through the years.
Very often we wait until some beloved laborer is gone and then say with regret, “I wish I had taken the time to thank him or her for. . . . ” Dear reader, if you have benefitted from reading the Gospel Guardian, Truth Magazine, and the Guardian of Truth, if you or your children have studied the “Truth In Life” material, if you look forward to seeing the Cogdill biography, why not take a moment to write a note of appreciation to the Bohannans for their help behind the scenes through the years. Their address is 10741 Overman Avenue, Chatsworth, California 91311.
The Bohannans knew nothing about the preparation of this article. All of us associated with the Guardian of Truth hope that our tribute will help them to know how much we love and appreciate them for all the good they have done and are doing. May God bless you both with many more years!
Guardian of Truth XXX: 12, pp. 372-373
June 19, 1986