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Sept. 10, 1927-Aug. 1, 2011

MOUNT OLIVE -- Dr. W. Burkette Raper, 83, Mount Olive, died peacefully Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, following a courageous battle with cancer.

Burkette, son of the late William Cecil and Beulah Davis Raper, was born Sept. 10, 1927, in the Black Creek community of Wilson County.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Rose Mallard Raper; and children, Olivia R. Best of Faison, Kristie R. Bailey (Gary) of Goldsboro, Burke Raper, (Susan) of Durham, Elizabeth R. Hood (Brad) of LaGrange and Laura R. Buddin (Mike) of Murrells Inlet, S.C.

They have nine grandchildren, Jeffrey Lassiter (Emily), Will Best (Meghan), Suzanne Wise (Anthony), Justin Bailey, Mathew Hood, Michael Hood, Carl Buddin, Catherine Buddin and Grace Buddin; and six great-grandchildren, Alexis Wise, Morgan Wise, Miranda Blizzard, Shannon Wise, Annie Rose Lassiter and Andrew Lassiter.

He is survived by a brother, James Earl Raper of Turbeville, S.C.; a sister, Mary R. O'Donnell of Athens, Ga.; a brother-in-law, Fred A. Davenport of Plymouth, N.C.; two half-brothers, David Jones of Virginia and Daniel Jones of Pennsylvania; and a half-sister, Sally J. Taylor.

He was predeceased by a son, Stephen Lee Raper, and a sister, Catherine R. Davenport.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, Aug. 4, at 11 a.m. in Kornegay Arena, 634 Henderson St. on the campus of Mount Olive College, Mount Olive, N.C. Interment will be at Friendship Original Free Will Baptist Church Cemetery, at the intersection of Ten Mile Fork Road and N.C. 41 North, Jones County, Trenton, N.C.

Visitors are welcome to Rodgers Chapel on the campus of Mount Olive College, where the body will lie in state Wednesday, Aug. 3, from noon to 4 p.m. The family will receive friends in the chapel from 4 to 7 p.m.

After the death of his father in 1936, Burkette entered the Free Will Baptist Orphanage in Middlesex, where he lived until graduation from Middlesex High School in 1944. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal arts in 1947 from Duke University and a Master of Divinity in 1952 from Duke Divinity School.

In 1960, Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College, awarded Burkette an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

In 1962, he earned a Master of Science degree in higher education from Florida State University.

A major decision in his life was to enter the ministry of the Free Will Baptist Church, and in 1946 he was ordained by the Western Conference of the Original Free Will Baptists of North Carolina.

He served as pastor of Oak Grove in Sampson County, Stony Hill and Memorial Chapel of the Free Will Baptist Children's Home in Nash County, Arapahoe in Pamlico County, Friendship in Jones County, Howell Swamp and Hull Road in Greene County.

Aug. 2, 1954, he became the president of Mount Olive College, Mount Olive, N.C., a two-year liberal arts college owned and operated by the North Carolina State Convention of Original Free Will Baptists.

When appointed president of the college at the age of 26, he was the youngest college president in the United States. When he retired as president in January 1995, he had the distinction of being the current longest-tenured college president in the nation.

During his 40 years as president, he guided the development of the college from a two-year junior college to an accredited four-year senior college. After retiring from the presidency, he served Mount Olive College as director of planned giving for 10 years, making a total of 50 years of service to the college.

Following his 50 years of service to Mount Olive College, he worked to establish the North Carolina Foundation for Christian Ministries, which is affiliated with the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists. The mission of the foundation is to communicate the Christian faith by serving as a medium for charitable and educational purposes.

All together, his ministry to Original Free Will Baptists lead him to complete 65 years of service to God and mankind.

Those who wish to make memorials are invited to consider the W. Burkette and Rose M. Raper Endowment for educational and charitable purposes with the North Carolina Foundation for Christian Ministries, P.O. Box 210, Mount Olive, N.C., 28365-0210.


Published in Obituaries on August 2, 2011 1:48 PM