We asked several Christian leaders to share their memories of Marshall Leggett, a Christian minister and college administrator who served as president of Milligan College in Tennessee from 1982 to 1997. He died March 2 at the age of 90.
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In 1965 the elders of Southeast Christian approached Marshall about becoming the preacher of their new church in Louisville. They had narrowed their preference down to two men: Bob Shannon and Marshall Leggett, the two best young preachers in our brotherhood. Both men saw the potential in the new church but at the last minute both decided not to accept the call. A few months later, I became the beneficiary of their decisions. Years later, Marshall would say to me with a twinkle in his eye, “Now, if I had gone to Southeast Christian, something good would have happened there!”
Former Senior Minister, Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky
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While I was a student at Milligan in the ’80s, I served a part-time ministry at the Union Church of Christ. Dr. Leggett preached at that same church years earlier when he was a student at Milligan. When Dr. Leggett would see me on campus, he would ask me about the people of Union. He still cared about them deeply. That’s just who he was.
Director of Ministry Leadership Program, Milligan University
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When I joined the cabinet, Milligan was in financial struggles, and we needed to cut the budget to meet revenue projections. I pored over my part of the budget and scheduled a meeting with Marshall. I said, “I have been over and over this budget; there’s simply no place to cut.” He said, “I hope you can find some places; if you can’t, I can.” I did! He was a wonderful mentor.
Gary E. Weedman
President Emeritus, Johnson University
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Sometime in the 1970s, I was a kid in the main session at the North American Christian Convention. I sat riveted before Marshall Leggett, who urged us to blend a pursuit of unity with a passionate concern for reaching lost people. How silly and destructive to undermine our mission by fighting amongst ourselves! This phrase stuck: “We must be ONE (and then he spelled it out in a slow, dramatic, southern drawl: Ohhhhhhh . . . Nnnnnnnnn . . . Eeeeeeeee) so that the world may be WON (and again, he emphatically announced the letters: Dubaya . . . Ohhhhhhh . . . Nnnnnnn).” I’ve been repeating it ever since.
Lead Pastor, Mountain Christian Church, Joppa, Maryland
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The years I spent serving with Marshall at Milligan College shaped the rest of my career in Christian higher education. No matter how insurmountable the challenges we faced, he maintained an unwavering focus on our mission and an unrelenting trust in God. He and his wife, Jean, modeled servant leadership by treating every person on campus as important and valued. His appreciation for the heritage and principles of the Restoration Movement left a lasting impression on our churches. Marshall was a true Christian gentleman and great friend.
President Emeritus, Hope International University
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During Dr. Leggett’s tenure, Milligan regained its footing and found renewed direction and purpose. I know I speak for the entire Milligan community when I say we are indebted to Marshall Leggett. I can’t tell you how many people have told me that Milligan would not have survived without Marshall. I think they’re right. His work at Milligan had a profound impact on the kingdom, and I know he was proud of the way we have continued to build upon the foundation he so carefully laid.
President, Milligan University
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On May 16, 1998, Marshall Leggett, Rubel Shelly, and I participated in a Restoration Dialogue at the Manhattan (New York) Church of Christ. Marshall gave his famous impression of Thomas Campbell, “exhumed from the tomb!” The next day Marshall turned down a chance to visit Yankee Stadium. I went and saw David Wells pitch a perfect game! Stuck in an airport terminal somewhere, Marshall moaned, “I could have been at the game!” I laughed all the way to LaGuardia.
President, Peace On Earth Ministries
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Like a parent, President Leggett made us feel secure and loved as students. Like an uncle, he gave me a chance and hired me for my first PR job. Like a teacher, he offered guidance and made me feel valuable. Like a grandparent, he told heartwarming stories that made generations develop their own “love affair” with Milligan. Dr. Leggett, you are “cherished by her sons and daughters.”
Dr. Lee (Fierbaugh) Harrison, Milligan Class of 1994
Vice President for Marketing & Enrollment, Milligan College
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Click here to read some of Ben Merold’s memories of Marshall Leggett.