Remembering Professor Cliff Bedell
By Bob Holmes
Columbia International University President Emeritus Robertson McQuilkin once called Cliff Bedell, “a lover of students.”
Bedell, a CIU Bible professor for 36 years, was remembered at a “Celebration of Life” following his death on Feb. 24. He was 85 years old.
The Celebration was held at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia where Bedell was a member. It was attended by former students, as well as dozens of current and former CIU faculty and staff who served with Bedell at various points during his years at CIU. He retired in 2009.
Among those who eulogized Bedell were his daughter Janet Ballew who said her father “felt humbled” to be a teacher, both in the Philippines where he served as a missionary for 16 years, and at CIU.
“He felt privileged ‘To Know Him and to Make Him Known,’” Ballew said quoting CIU’s motto and noting that her father had been "laid to rest in his CIU monogrammed dress shirt.”
With his missionary zeal and gift of teaching, Bedell said in the 1979 CIU Yearbook that he praised the Lord for “the opportunity of challenging our students to consider a ministry in communicating the Good News cross-culturally.”
Among those around campus with memories of Cliff Bedell is current CIU professor Dr. Kevin McWilliams who knew Bedell as both a student and a colleague.
“He encouraged his students in an engaging and approachable manner to think deeply, carefully, and biblically about a wide range of issues,” McWilliams said of sitting under Bedell’s teaching.
McWilliams says when he became a faculty member 15 years later, Bedell treated him from the start “as a colleague and a peer.”
“He was a practical help, a source of wisdom, and a cheerleader,” McWilliams said.
At the announcement of Bedell’s death on CIU’s Facebook page, dozens of former students quickly took the opportunity to remember their beloved professor. Mark Pichaj commented that one of the many things Bedell taught him concerned the uniqueness of Christ and His two natures:
ME: "So...Jesus is both human and divine? Does that mean He is 50% God and 50% man?"
PROF. BEDELL: "Nope. Jesus is 100% God, and 100% man."
ME: "But...but...that's 200%!"
PROF. BEDELL: "Jesus is a 200% kind of guy!"
At the Celebration of Life, daughter Janet Ballew also recounted that her father was not much for small talk. She said he would go along with it for a while before getting to more important matters.
“Do you know my Savior?” he would ask.
In 2008, Bedell shared a memorable experience from his time as a missionary in the CIU Connection magazine article, “An Angry Missionary and a Filipino Kid.” See page 10 of the magazine for the article which was read at Bedell’s Celebration of Life service.
Read more about Cliff Bedell, including how you can make a memorial gift in his honor at the CIU Alumni Web page.