Retirement and Honors 2003+

Ed retired as University Chaplain in 2003, and within a few years, he also retired from teaching Sunday School at Wake Forest Baptist Church. Ed and Jean also retired from holiday fudge making.

But they did not leave the campus, visiting often to see friends, attend BSU meetings, and enjoy the quad. Ed and Jean remained members of the Wake Forest Baptist Church, which blessed their marriage in 1952 and Ed’s ordination in 1955.

Ed and Jean enjoyed visiting the campus for special events. This is from the Celebration of Scholarships Dinner, 2012. Photo by Ken Bennett.

Ed and Jean enjoyed visiting the campus for special events. This is from the Celebration of Scholarships Dinner, 2012. Photo by Ken Bennett.

When asked “How is retirement,” Ed would invariably answer, “I’m working very hard at it!” At home, Ed watched the history channel, animal programs, “Law and Order,” Braves baseball and some other sports. Jean and Ed also enjoyed casual yard work and walking on Royall Drive, talking to their neighbors.

One of his pleasures was the Cardiac Rehabilitation program on the campus. He enjoyed the company of David Levy and Henry Miller (his friend since undergraduate school and later on his cardiologist!) — but also meeting new friends in the group. Cardiac Rehab was a renewable source of fellowship and friendship that he enjoyed for many years.

Retirement in 2003 did free up Ed and Jean to start one new career — as grandparents to new grandson Francisco Christman Shehee, born earlier that year.




Ed says about grand-parenthood, “It’s not a piece of cake, it’s the whole cotton-picking cake.”


Francisco Shehee:  “My grandparents are the best grandparents I could ever ask for! They loved me from the moment we first met.

“Grandma and I love to watch the morning cartoons on Nickelodeon. When we eat lunch, I always share my burger and fries with Grandma, and she always shares her grilled chicken sandwich with me. Grandma and I love to read books and dance to music like Alison Krauss and Donna the Buffalo. Grandma also likes to teach me about math.

“Grandpa and I love to talk ‘Nonsense Talk’  hnbjcvbgfnbfottafaze ebvnbbvmvbbmv bnsollamagoovhjngvhngfbrfvh!  We build with legos and act things out.

“One of the fun things about them is they like to spoil me. When I ask for something, like to give it to me, like Thomas the Tank Engine wooden Railway trains and stuffed  animals. One of the best presents they ever gave me was a digital camera and a tri-pod so that I could become a photographer. I can show them the pictures I’ve taken on the camera and take fun photos of them, too.”


The Wake Forest University Medallion of Merit, 2007

On February 22, 2007, President Nathan O. Hatch awarded Ed the highest honor given by Wake Forest, the University’s Medallion of Merit.

President Hatch’s award announcement read:

“Seldom does an institution spawn a graduate who so thoroughly embodies its soul, Pro Humanitate.  Through a lifetime of service to both his alma mater and his profession, this honoree truly has enriched the lives of all whom he has served. His compassion and kindness, combined with his witty and wonderfully irreverent spirit, have made some proclaim he is Wake Forest’s own Demon Deacon…

“He has stood with us on happy occasions, marrying countless alumni, and on sad ones, easing our grief in profound moments of sorrow. But his most important role was as friend and counselor to generations of students. I am pleased to present Wake Forest University’s Medallion of Merit to an admired University leader, a minister to students and colleagues alike, the Reverend Edgar Douglas Christman.”

Ed wearing the Medallion of Merit, with friend Anne Phillips. Photo courtesy of Anne Phillips.

Divinity School Service Award, 2005

In March 2005, the Wake Forest Divinity School presented Ed Christman with its inaugural Wake Forest Divinity School Distinguished Service Award. The award was created to honor individuals who have offered “distinguished service” to Wake Forest Baptist Church, to the University, and to the world.

Divinity School Dean Bill Leonard said, “During his years of service to Wake Forest University, Ed Christman established a reputation as a preacher, administrator, counselor, university representative, and prophetic voice on the campus and in the larger community. As an active member of the Wake Forest Baptist Church and the Baptist Peace Fellowship, he has addressed issues of war and peace, justice and civil rights, servanthood, and the care of souls in the church and in the world.”  [See “Christman Receives Service Award,” in Divinity News, Spring 2005.]

 Original Music Composition: Psalm 96 (O Sing to the Land a New Song), an Anthem for SATB Chorus and Piano, 2003

In 2003, Dr. Mary Ann and Gerald Taylor celebrated Ed’s career and his retirement through the commission of an original piece of music by Dan Locklair, then composer-in-residence and music professor at Wake Forest. The commission — to be inspired by Psalm 96, one of Ed and Jean’s favorites — was made “in honor and in appreciation of the Reverend Edgar Douglas Christman for his forty-nine years of distinguished service to Wake Forest University.”

The beautiful result was Psalm 96 (O Sing to the Land a New Song), which had its world premier on December 4, 2003, in Brendle Recital Hall of Wake Forest University, as sung by the Wake Forest Concert Choir, Dr. Brian Gorelick, conductor. Psalm 96 has been published by Subito.

Mary Ann Taylor was the Director of Student Health Services from 1961-1991, and the Taylors were long-time friends of the Christmans.

A Tribute with Poetry by Frank Wood ’64, 2003

One day our children asked, about your hair,

‘”Is it so white because he is so old?”

“‘No, no, it’s always been like that,” we said.

“When we were young and still in college, long

Before you were conceived, except in thought,

Yes, even then his hair was white as snow.”

Our children took this as evidence to mean

Not that your hair was white despite your youth

But that because your hair was always white,

You must be always old.” Ancient of Days!

The Everlasting One. Aha! He’s God!”

Upon reflection, it is more your eye,

Incapable of fine detail, whereby

You show resemblance to the Diety:

Our flaws are pardoned from your scrutiny.

Your mobile eyebrows squint from present lights,

Confirming those more distant, nobler sights

That then attract us from our present stays

Toward journeys that define our length of days.

 Lifetime Coffee Card, 2003

One of Ed’s most surprising and appreciated retirement honors was his Lifetime Coffee Card for the Wake Forest University Bookstore. Jean received a similar honor a few years later. With these cards, the Christmans enjoyed a bottomless cup of coffee to enjoy while the campus goes by. Ed and Jean love coffee. After all, it it is what brought them together …  (See How Ed Met Jean)

One of Ed’s favorite honors — among the many bestowed at retirement — was his Lifetime Coffee Card for the Wake Forest University Bookstore.

One of Ed’s most practical retirement honors was his Lifetime Coffee Card for the Wake Forest University Bookstore.

The Ed and Jean Christman Fellowship to the Wake Forest Divinity School, 2003

The Divinity School Dean and Faculty honored Ed and Jean Christman upon his retirement as Chaplain by naming the school’s full-tuition fellowship the Ed and Jean Christman Fellowship. The fellowship is awarded to the most promising applicants, providing them up to three years of tuition support.

Scott Hudgins, director of Admissions and Student Services at the Divinity School, wrote: “Few individuals have contributed more to the identity and ethos of Wake Forest. While Ed and Jean are models for faithful ministry, they are more importantly two whose presence on this campus touches several generations of students, faculty and staff.” [See “Ed and Jean Christman Fellowships,” in Divinity at Wake Forest newsletter.  Summer 2003.]

The Division of Student Life Honor, 2003

In May 2003, the Division of Student Life Leadership Team honored “Brother Ed” for “one-half century of contributions to the life of Wake Forest University and service to students in their holistic development, through the spirit of Pro Humanitate.” This award was given at the time of Ed’s retirement.

Wake Forest University Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award, 2003

Ed was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award in October 2003. Eric Eubanks, Alumni President, wrote in 2003: “Each year, the Wake Forest University Alumni Association presents awards to those alumni whose achievements and recognition have reflected honor on their alma mater. At our recent Alumni Council meeting, you were unanimously selected to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award for your accomplished career and for your oustanding service to Wake Forest. your leadership and dedication truly exemplify our University motto Pro Humanitate.”

Wake Forest Birthplace Society Honorary Lifetime Membership, 2003

In October 2003, the Wake Forest College Birthplace Society honored Ed with an honorary lifetime membership “In tribute to his contribution to preserving the legacy of Wake Forest College and the town of Wake Forest.”

Wake Forest University Trustees’ Resolution, 2003

On April 4, 2003, the Wake Forest Board of Trustees and President Thomas K. Hearn, Jr., issued a Resolution Honoring Edgar Douglas Christman. It reads in part:  “Edgar Christman has led and nurtured the Campus Ministry so that it serves the spiritual needs of all students, and has guided the spiritual life of Wake Forest as a voice of conscience, a witness to God’s grace, and an example of goodness and integrity.  …  Therefore, be it known that the members of the Board of Trustees extend their warm and heartfelt appreciation to Edgar Douglas Christman for his outstanding service to the University.”

The Lambda Chi Alpha Chapter Edgar D. Christman Award, Wake Forest University, 2003

In April 2003, the Theta Tau Zeta Chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at  Wake Forest University instituted a new honor — the Edgar D. Christman Initiate of the Year — to recognize a new brother in the chapter who shows Chaplain Christman’s strength of character and dedication to the fraternity.

At at dinner event announcing the award, there were many stories about Ed’s long association with the Wake Forest Lambda Chis and his years of service as the chapter’s faculty adviser. The chapter’s  newsletter story “Honoring a Legacy,”  recounts that “The Chaplain himself retold a tale from years past when he managed to keep the fraternity  out of jail. Though, as he says, he never practiced law, he did wield a bit of rhetorical authority when some brothers’ illicit interest in Maple Springs Methodist Church’s pumpkin patch ran them amuck of the law.” [See “Honoring a Legacy,” The Theta Taulker, Theta Tau Zeta Chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha, Spring 2003.]

Move to Salemtowne

In 2009, Ed and Jean moved from their house on Royall Drive to Salemtowne, a Moravian-affiliated continuing care retirement community just a few miles away.  Salemtowne is a wonderful home, with splendid neighbors, excellent food, and a cozy apartment.  As Ed says, “we have landed in a wonderful place.”

Ed and Jean love visitors from their Wake Forest years. They are pictured here with Neal Jones in May 2014. Photo by Kim Christman.

Ed and Jean love visitors from their Wake Forest years. They are pictured here with Neal Jones ’83 in May 2014. Photo by Kim Christman.

What’s best about Salemtowne is the combination of lifelong friends from Wake Forest (including Dick and Betty Mae Barnett and other Royall Drive neighbors!) — with new friends from other places. Residents have interesting lives and experiences to share. Ed and Jean love the community spirit, the dining rooms, the varied activities, and the kind, capable staff. They also appreciate being able to remain so close to the campus and in Winston-Salem.

 Ed passed away on December 24, 2014, after a short illness. His funeral was held in Wait Chapel on the campus, filled with friends and loved ones. It was a true celebration, with many stories and good music, including “When the Saints Go Marching In.”