Personal Reflections on the Passing of Harry Pickup, Jr.

Pickup HarryC. R. Nichol was one of the great preachers, teachers and religious writers of the late 19th and early 20th century.   He was known, not only for his scholarly work, but for his wisdom and quick wit.

One morning, while taking a walk, a friend cheerily greeted him, “Good morning, Bro. Nichol, I see that you’re still in the land of the living.”

Without missing a beat, he quickly quipped as he walk on, “No. I’m in the land of the dying. But I hope one day to go to the land of the living.”

Indeed, we are in “the land of dying.” And some days we are reminded of that more than usual.

Yesterday, I received an early morning e-mail, that one of our elderly members had passed away after a brief illness. Then I received another message that the mother of another member had succumbed to her long battle with cancer.

As I checked my facebook page, I learned that Harry Pickup, Jr. had passed away the same morning. I thought about 3 different families in two different states, none of which know each other, sharing the sorrow that death brings.

The passing of each of these, reminds us of the truth of the Preacher from 3,000 years ago, there is a “time to be born and a time to die.” They have each kept that inevitable appointment with death (Heb. 9:27).

This morning many memories have flooded my mind as I reflect on the passing of Bro. Pickup. My friendship began with him during my Sophomore year at Florida College when he came to work with his father, Harry Sr, in the Office of Public Relations. Harry soon became a favorite of us “preacher boys.” We loved to go to his office and seek counsel, listen to his words of wisdom and laugh at his funny stories.

I can still hear him bellow, with a wide grin on his face, “Come on in boys! Come on in boys! What I can do for you?”

It seemed amazing that after listening to our problem with a look of empathy, he always had a 3 point solution to the challenge we faced. Then would finish with balancing a pencil on his finger and urged us have balance in our lives.

Once I remember Bro. Pickup warning that young preachers are susceptible to two extremes: (1) Accepting everything the older preachers believe without studying it for themselves; and (2) rejecting everything the older preachers taught without studying it for themselves. He urged us to engage in study, develop a personal faith, and know what we believed and why we believed it. His advice has served me well these past 50 years.

Harry was also responsible for my first venture into foreign evangelism. He arranged for me to spend the summer in Iberia, Missouri, preaching for several small, rural churches. Well, it was pretty foreign to a 20 year old kid from Indiana! Harry arranged for my support for the summer and helped prepare me for the challenges I would face.

Prior to leaving Florida, he asked to see the car I was driving to Missouri. A quick inspection revealed to him that my 4 tires were tread challenged. Without hesitation, he called a tire store in Temple Terrace and set up an anointment to have a new set of tires put on my Oldsmobile. I’m pretty sure he paid for the tires out of his own pocket.

At the end of the summer, Bro. Pickup came to hold a meeting in Iberia. Hanging out with him for a week and running around with his friend from Rolla, Luther Martin, was an incredible learning experience for this young preacher.

Through the years our paths have crossed many times. I have been the recipient of his kindness, encouragement, and wise counsel.  Three years ago I received a very complimentary letter from Harry thanking me for my lesson on the final night of the Florida College Lectures. In part he wrote, “(Your lecture was)  true, clear and helpful to all of us who struggle with our own mortality.  The promise of our own resurrection helps us…keep up the good work.”  I was both honored and humbled by his thoughtfulness and kindness. I treasure that letter.

If you knew Harry Pickup, Jr, you know he a was unique man. A gentleman. And an impeccable dresser. He possessed a sharp mind and warm sense of humor. He was a thoughtful Bible student. A powerful preacher. A faithful husband. A loving father. And a good friend to young preachers.

His legacy lives on through his family, friends, preachers that he’s equipped and the lives he impacted through the preaching of the Word and the friendships he fostered.

Harry Pickup Jr. kept the faith, finished the course and now awaits the crown of life. He epitomizes the passage, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Ps. 116:15). Harry has left the land of the dying and gone home to the land of the living.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

31 Comments

Filed under Death, Eulogy

31 responses to “Personal Reflections on the Passing of Harry Pickup, Jr.

  1. Thank you Ken for those wonderful words of a mighty prince of Israel. Your words declare the man who lived for Christ. Legions of souls have been touched by his warm devotion to God.

  2. Thank you for reminding me of my association with this kind and magnanimous brother. I remember his very straightforward and plain talk that drew you into his friendship. I look forward to the day when I can walk and talk with him again.

  3. BAMISILE John LEKAN

    There is inspiration in the words,,by differentiating between the land of dying and living.

  4. Thank you! Such a blessing to remember those who have touched our lives in so many ways. Brother Pickup, a friend and a brother, though I never had a personal, close work with him, but when we were together for some activity, he would always make an effort to speak to me, ask how I was doing and my family, and the work of the Lord. Kindness doesn’t just happen, it comes from truly caring for others and acting upon it. Our brother was that and so much more. Brother Dee Bowman spoke last night at Henderson Blvd here in Tampa of going to heaven to be with Harry and other loved ones. May God bless all to want to go to heaven to be with our Lord and all the faithful who have gone on before us!

  5. Art Dowell III

    One memory of Harry Pickup, Jr. (among many). In a crowd at Temple Terrace, I saw him greeting and speaking with many people. When he shook my hand and spoke with me, his attention was 100% focused on me. As I reflected on his prior interactions and watched him greet others, I was impressed that his attention was always 100% on one person. What a good lesson he taught me by his behavior!

  6. Billy Ray Ford

    I knew him, and his daddy! I loved both of them. Billy Ray Ford

  7. Judy Fails Phillips

    Thank you for this writing! I didn’t know bro. Pickup personally but had heard about him for years. Thank you also for writing what he taught younger preachers about studying the scriptures on their own!!!

  8. Mark Springer

    My parents tell stories of Brother Harry when he preached at Tuckerman Arkansas at the age of 19. He once whipped me on a tennis court (playing tennis) and was one of the main reasons I attended Florida College. His impact on young men and women will have a positive and lasting affect on a world in need of men like brother Harry!

  9. Ruby Hagewood

    Thanks, Ken! My parents were baptized during one of bro. Pickup Senior’s meetings at Riverside Drive in Nashville in 1951. Both of them were unique men in their own ways and faithful servants of our Lord. I loved them both!! I always looked forward to talking with bro. Pickup when visiting Temple Terrace! He would always remind me that Tommy’s father and his Dad were good friends!! We have indeed lost another faithful soldier in the Lord’s kingdom!! Angels are rejoicing in Heaven!! May God comfort his family as only He knows how!!

  10. Jewel Parks Chastain

    Jewel Parks Chastain

  11. After generations of misapplication, “larger than life” is a pretty tread-bare description. But I think it applies to Harry.

    He stayed in my home when I was a teenager — a timeframe which says a lot about how vivid the memory must be — and he always treated me like a “grown-up”. Which I was’t, by any measure, even remotely. He looked me in the eye, listened — hard — and stayed engaged in the conversation. I always wondered how anybody could smile that genuinely, that often.

    The answer is he loved life, he loved the people in it, and he loved what he was doing with them. A little rare these days, perhaps.

    He will be missed. Greatly.

  12. Jewel Parks Chastain

    Thank you, Ken, for sharing. Bro. Pickup often held meetings in the Akron, Ohio area and he almost always stayed with my uncle and aunt, Ken and Elverna Murray. I always loved hearing their wonderful stories of having him in their home!

  13. Jim Phillios

    My sister, Carlene Phillips, worked for Sr at Florida Christian College. Your son is married to our second cousin, April. Never had the privilege of knowing Jr but heard about his work hru Melvin and David Curry. Jim Phillips, West Citrus church of Christ, Crystal River, Fl.

  14. Lindy McDaniel

    I am a young 80 year old, and one sad thing we older people face is to see our friends leave this world one by one. I have known Harry Pickup, Jr. for almost 60 years and he was a great man. It is very important to preach the truth, but it is also important to package the truth in a person that not only lives it but who demonstrates his love and concern for others. Part of preaching the gospel is certainly public relations, that is, knowing how to relate to others. Harry Pickup and I were never in situations where we spent a lot of time together over any extended period, but I have followed his career and our lives have crossed paths many, many times. He always greeted me with that great smile and enthusiastic handshake. I enjoyed the fact that he had no difficulty expressing himself, and that he was exactly as he seemed to be. I am sure that there are many who will miss him greatly.
    Recently I taught 2 Timothy, and could experience through the word by faith Paul’s victory in having lived a faithful life and his anticipation of “going home” to the Lord. We all want to have Paul’s confidence in seeing the Lord and our loved ones in Christ. So I would believe that brother Harry’s death was a grief to many but a welcome thing to him. — Lindy McDaniel

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  16. For many years I have struggled with the pains of death. Having a preaching Dad, Ross Saunders, I got to meet some of the wonderful preachers and debaters. ie. B.G. Hope, Franklin Puckett, Roy Cogdill, Tom Butler, etc. All of these have journeyed home leaving this land of the dying. I have lost Dad now for over 5 years, and the realization that death is just the next step on the journey with one more eternal stop, Heaven or Hell. I have noticed the pain that our families have with the departure of our loved ones. But after time passes and the absence wains, There is the joy of knowing that our loving family member, having lived faithful to God has found lasting joy and peace, with no more sorrow or pain, from the labors of this life. Yes, the house is pretty lonesome, but our journey is coming to an end also, where soon we will take our last step, and hope to see them once again. There is joy knowing that if I live faithful we will be in their presence for eternity.
    These staunch soldiers often spoke of wanting to meet with our Lord, and other Biblical men Dad would mention Paul and Christ he looked forward to meeting. Bro. Pickup was another brother that fought the worldly influences and many a student would venture his doorway to confide in him of their struggles with life. Calmly he’d listen to us and then advise how to deal with the struggle. He was usually busy with the affairs of the school, but he’d always try to make time for grooming young people for their life ahead. His father was another notable brother. I may have spent as much time consulting him as I did Bro. Pickup. Both of these were towering men, easy to talk with. Both with big smiles and hearts. They took there responsibility as a preacher seriously, while being joyful and caring out of the pulpit.
    Yesterday, when Bro. Wolfgang posted the comment on Facebook along with a picture of Bro. Harry Pickup, Jr., I thought “Wow, he had aged into a mirror image of his father!” These have become mentors to so many of us, and we can hope to be mirrors in our lives to these great men.
    There have been many battles fought by the church, but these have all meticulously fought those battles with scriptures, and we must do likewise for the Devil never rests presenting more battles ahead.
    I pray that the family will find comfort knowing their father has guided so many of us in our journeys in our life with Christ, and all the preachers they have helped encourage to “preach the word, be instant in season and out of season…”. Their labors are not in vain. They live on in all our lives.
    After my time at F.C.,, I was needing some support for my work, and Bro. Keith Sharp told me to contact Bro. Pickup. He mentioned he was one of the men affiliated with the Akin Foundation which could possibly help. I did and I received some one-time help several times in those early years of preaching. That was another relationship by which he helped and encouraged many preachers to contend for truth.
    You will be greatly missed brother, but we look forward joyfully to our reunion and eternity awaits us. Thanks so much!

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  18. Reblogged this on ThePreachersWord and commented:

    The passing of one of my early preaching, mentors, Harry Pickup Jr, was the inspiration for this post, which was widely received by our readers. It was the 3rd most read in 2016.

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