Dr. Bruce Cresson Obituary, Death – Dr. Bruce Cresson peacefully went to be with his Lord Jesus Christ on May 12, 2022, at the age of 91, in Waco. He is survived by his loving wife of 66 years, Joanne; lovingly remembered by his daughter Lynn Presnell and husband, Craig; by his son, Bruce Cresson, Jr., and wife, Laura; grandsons Collin Cresson and wife, Mira, Patrick Cresson and wife, Kim; and great-grandchildren, Elizabeth and Mackey Cresson.
Bruce Collins Cresson was born on October 27, 1930, in Lenoir, North Carolina, to Dave and Cora Cresson. He was a 1948 graduate of Lenoir High School, where he was first chair French horn in the award-winning Lenoir High School Band. He married the love of his life, Joanne Suddreth on August 7, at College Avenue Baptist Church. Together they raised a beautiful family that traveled the world, learning and discovering the past and enjoying the present.
In his professional career, Bruce Cresson achieved a distinction in education and ministry. He received a B.A. from Wake Forest University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, a B.D. and Th.M. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in religion from Duke University. After serving as minister of the Hillsborough First Baptist Church, Bruce entered the field of higher education.
He taught at Southeastern Baptist Seminary for one year, at Duke University for three years, for one summer at the University of Miami, and for 34 years at Baylor University, from 1966-2000. While at Baylor, Bruce spent 25 summers in archaeological excavations in Israel. He was either Director or Co-Director of excavations at Aphek-Antipatris, Dalit, Ira, Uza, Radum, and Malhata. In 1984, Bruce was appointed Vice Provost for International Programs, and in 1987 was named Dean of Baylor’s University School, a position he held for four years.
From 1994-2000 he served as W.W. Melton Professor of Religion. At Baylor, Bruce was instrumental in establishing and directing the Institute of Archaeology, the Institute of Biblical and Related Languages, and the University Scholars Program. He co-authored a college-level textbook, Introduction to the Bible, which was used in many colleges across the country, and he has written numerous articles for periodicals and dictionaries, primarily on archaeological subjects.
He was honored by his peers in 2000 with the John Gammie Award, given annually to the outstanding scholar in the field of religious studies in the southwestern region of the U.S. In his personal life, Bruce loved to write and was a natural wordsmith, using the several languages he was fluent in, including Latin, Greek, Aramaic, Syriac, and Hebrew.
He also loved photography, documenting his many digs and travel around the world. Over the years, he accumulated an impressive collection of ancient coins, pottery, and other artifacts. Bruce was a member of Columbus Avenue Baptist Church for over 52 years, where he shared his knowledge of the Bible in various settings.
His most cherished role allowed him to remain a biblical teacher by leading the Sanctuary Class where he both wrote and taught the curriculum. He loved every member of his class. Late in life, Bruce retained a positive and loving spirit while his physical abilities declined. His loving wife, Joanne remained a firm and steadfast partner and source of strength. Bruce passed his love of learning and exploration on to his children and grandchildren and leaves a legacy of faith, commitment to family, and the importance of service to others.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to either the Phi Beta Kappa and University Scholars Endowed International Scholarship (also called The Cresson Scholarship) administered by Baylor University or Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in Waco.
Evening visitation will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Home Monday, May 16. Graveside service will be held for family at 10:00 a.m. at Oakwood Cemetery Tuesday, May 17.
A Celebration of Bruce’s life will be held at 11:00 am, Tuesday, May 17, at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church, with Reverend Josh Vaughan officiating.