In Memorial Edgar D. Christman 1929 – 2014

Ed closeupCelebrate the life of Ed Christman. He passed away on December 24, 2014, after a short illness. A memorial service was held on December 30, 2014, at the Wake Forest Baptist Church, in Wait Chapel. The service was big and joyous, something he would have loved.

Our deepest gratitude to the many friends who helped create this service: Lia Scholl, WFBC pastor and Tim Auman, Wake Forest University Chaplain; Woody Faulkner, WFBC Choir Director and Organist, who filled the space with music Dad loved; the choir who came together to sing his favorite hymns; Chuck King who performed “More I Cannot Wish You” from Guys and Dolls; and the speakers who shared words of comfort and stories that were hilarious and  reflective of his life.

Thank you also to Kerry King (’85) of Wake Forest University, who wrote a sterling tribute for the WFU website. The site also hosted a guestbook for more than 100 contributions of stories and memories and kind words.

The program of the service is here:  Ed Christman Memorial Program

The audio of the service is here: Ed Christman Memorial Program Audio

Following is the obituary which appeared in the Winston-Salem Journal.

Ed Christman led a life made rich through faith in God and a joyous curiosity and presence for others. Amazing Grace was his favorite hymn, and he always spoke of the grace that marked his life. Many in turn were graced by his love.

Ed was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. He was the son of Ola E. Christman, Comptroller of the Jacksonville Railroad Terminal, and Monseurat Adela Josephina Carles Christman, a Vice President of the Monticello Drug Company. He graduated from Robert E. Lee High School.

Ed enrolled at Wake Forest College in Wake Forest, NC, in 1947. He chose Wake Forest to be near his father’s relatives in eastern NC, without having seen the campus. Ed remembered, “Once upon a time, I got off the train from Jacksonville in Wake Forest with a wardrobe trunk, a suitcase, and boundless expectations.” All of these came true, and more, over his life’s journey.

Wake Forest also brought Ed his greatest gift – his soulmate and wife Jean Sholar, whom he met over a cup of coffee in 1949. They were married on December 23, 1952, at the Wake Forest Baptist Church in Wake Forest. Jean was a teacher and she was also Ed’s “co-chaplain” throughout his career.

Ed had planned to major in history and become an attorney. He said, “I always thought I’d be a lawyer. I always wanted to help people through the power of speech, the way a surgeon helps people through the power of his hands.” This happened, though not in the way he anticipated.

Ed graduated from Wake Forest College in 1950 and then attended Wake Forest Law School, graduating in 1953. In the spring of 1953, he received a call to the ministry, and instead of becoming a lawyer, he entered Southeastern Theological Seminary. Ed was ordained in 1955 and received a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1960. Ed then attended Union Theological Seminary in New York City on a Danforth Fellowship, earning an MA in Sacred Theology in 1961.

When Wake Forest College moved to Winston-Salem in 1956, Ed and Jean moved as well. They were founding members of the Wake Forest Baptist Church of Winston-Salem. They lived next to the campus, at first in the WF Faculty Apartments and later on Royall Drive.

Ed’s career as a chaplain began in 1954, while he was a seminary student. He was hired by J. Glenn Blackburn, then the college’s chaplain and church pastor, to work as Baptist Student Union Director. Ed soon realized that working with students was his life’s calling. For the rest of his life, he had one job – serving the Wake Forest community. His titles evolved from BSU Director (1954-56), to Baptist Campus Minister (1956-59), then Assistant Chaplain (1961-1968), and finally University Chaplain (1969-2003). In 2007, he was awarded the Medallion of Merit.

As Chaplain, Ed served the institution of Wake Forest University. He worked with others to bring change — integration of the campus, engagement with world events, and inclusion of all regardless of religion, background, and sexual preference. He felt that the University should always be striving to become its best self.

In serving the community, “Brother Ed” was the spiritual guide, whether it was a time to celebrate, reflect, or mourn. He was committed to Campus Ministry, building support for the Baptist Student Union and other student denominational organizations. He led weekly chapel services, Preschool Conference, and a host of other religious events and activities. He was especially proud of co-founding the Volunteer Service Corps with Henry Cooper and of acting in plays at the Wake Forest University Theatre.

Ed shone brightest as Chaplain to the people of Wake Forest, students, faculty, and staff alike. He welcomed incoming freshmen by name. He counseled students who were creating their own lives, recovering lost visions, and questioning or developing their faith. He advised students who were preparing for ordination and those who were in the maze of difficulty. He comforted those who were lost and those faced with grief. He performed weddings, dedications, and funerals. He was always there.

Ed leaves behind his wife Jean Sholar Christman; daughters Carolyn and Kim, sons-in-law Ron Shehee and Stan Dotson, and grandson Francisco Christman Shehee. Though an only child, Ed acquired many brothers during his life, and he leaves behind Ed Wilson, Lonnie Williams, Joe Clontz, Richard McBride, Herman Eure, and John Cowan.

A memorial service was held on Tuesday December 30, 2014, 11am, at the Wake Forest Baptist Church, in Wait Chapel, on the Wake Forest University campus.

In lieu of flowers, send a gift to the charity of your choice or consider a gift to the Wake Forest Baptist Church of Winston-Salem; the Ed and Jean Christman Fellowship at the Wake Forest University Divinity School; the Ed and Jean Christman (Poteat) Scholarship to Wake Forest University; and Salemtowne – The Moravian Home, of Winston-Salem.

  • From Carolyn Christman on December 25, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    My grandfather Ed Christman made a huge impact on my childhood. He was a wonderful and loving grandpa and we were very close for 11 years, and I will always have a special place for Ed in my heart. This is a great loss for me and I will miss him more than you can imagine.
    Grandson Francisco Christman Shehee

  • From Kim on December 25, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    I want to thank my sister for creating this beautiful website. I also want to thank everyone who has shared comments about my dad. It has been poignant saying good-bye to him at Christmas time; however, your many prayers and words of love, support and friendship are lifting us from grief to gratitude.

    Kim Christman

  • From Betty Jo Wilkinson on December 26, 2014 at 12:13 am

    To Kim. You are indeed a chip, no, really a big slab, off the wonderful man who sired you. I remember the consolation you and Stan brought to me in my great need during Bill’s illness and death. It is my time to reciprocate. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Nothing I could say about your dad would measure up to what I have just read from others he affected so deeply. Adrianne and I had a good conversation today about good memories of our travels together with you two and your parents. Just know that you are loved and remembered as is he. My good thoughts go to Jean also. Love you all.

  • From Sandi Payne Greene on December 26, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Dear Ones,
    I am so sorry to hear this sad news. Thinking of all of you and sending much love.
    With sincere condolences,

  • From Stan Dotson on December 26, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    I married well, no doubt about it. Being a part of Ed and Jean’s family has enriched my life beyond measure. It is wonderful to have been able to see the absolute coherence between the character of Ed’s public life and his private family life. As was written of his role model, Ed was “the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

  • From Joyce Hollyday on December 26, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Holding you in the Light during this poignant time. So glad you were able to be at your Dad’s side to usher him on. May the gratitude always outweigh the grief.

  • From Jennie Fentress on December 26, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Ed Christman was like a grand daddy to my children . They love him as one.

    He was a counselor to me and he always welcomed me whenever I showed up unannounced at his office or at his house. His words and his understanding were more valuable than gold to me.

    Our family has had the blessings of his love and his wisdom and his family in our life, and we will always keep him in our hearts.

  • From Beth Starkey on December 27, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    While I was having lunch Christmas Eve, Brother Ed suddenly popped into my mind. Later that afternoon I learned of his passing.
    I considered it a privilege to have been able to call him my Sunday School teacher. He was an amazing presence.
    My condolences to the entire family.

  • From Charles (Red) Barham on December 28, 2014 at 12:43 am

    I was saddened to learn of Ed’s death. He was a valued classmate and friend whose life gave voice, hands and feet to the lofty motto of our great university. I was privileged to have passed his way as were our children. My condolence to Jean and family.

  • From Jackie Lalor on December 28, 2014 at 2:46 am

    Dearest Kim,

    My heart goes out to you and your family. I wish I had had the chance to meet your dad; it sounds as if he touched many lives. You are in my thoughts and prayers.


  • From Tommy Ruke 64 on December 29, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Jean, Ed made a difference in my life. I was glad we could visit with you and Ed in Oct and give him the up dated Howler. I am a better person because of Ed.

  • From Sheree Jones on December 29, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I met Ed while serving as an intern and later interim Baptist Campus Minister at UNC-Greensboro. I remember his wonderful smile and the wisdom he shared with everyone. He will be greatly missed. His touch on this community and beyond will live on and will continue to bear fruit. May God comfort you as you move forward.
    Chaplain Sheree Jones

  • From Betsy Nowell on January 1, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Carolyn, I am saddened to hear of the death of your father. He was such a kind man. About 15 years ago, he helped my mother plan the service for my uncle Jack. We talked about you and Copper during our days at Cedar Hollow. I will keep your family in my prayers.
    Betsy Nowell

  • From Joel Newman, WFU Law School on January 1, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Ed got his law degree, but decided not to practice law–at least not in the normal way. He wanted to practice before a higher court, and did he ever succeed.
    It was my privilege to know Ed during his days as Chaplain. In his retirement, I got to see him on occasion when I performed with various musical groups at his retirement home. Ed enriched the lives of everyone around him. He will be sorely missed.

  • From Rachel Weaver on January 2, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    It was a privilege to share the Wake Forest Lovefeast with your husband and father at Salemtowne on December 7. Listening as youshared the story of your wedding day was a gift. When I heard the news, I realized that you were able to celebrate your sixty-thrid wedding anniversary on December 23. May Ed Christman’s light shine bright in all of us.