The Rev. Robert Allan Poage, age 87 years of Niles, Michigan, father, grandfather, church leader, and follower of Jesus died to this world at 2:27 a.m. on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 at Spectrum Health Lakeland Hospital – Niles, shedding his increasingly frustrating earthly shell, and achieving his long-anticipated appointment to meet Jesus face-to-face.
He was born on September 16, 1934 in Charleston, Missouri to Robert Cyrus and Mary (Brewer) Poage, and was graduated from Charleston High School. He enlisted in the United States Navy, serving during Peacetime as an Electrician's Mate on the newly commissioned USS Tulare, and crossed both the equator and the International Date Line before being Honorably Discharged in 1957. He continued his education at the California Baptist College (now University) in Riverside, California, completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1963, and earning a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1967 from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on Seminary Hill in Fort Worth, Texas.
Allan was ordained by the Park Temple Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas on November 29, 1967, after which the Southern Baptist Convention sent the new Rev. Allan Poage to be a pioneer to the north, starting with the Farmington Hills (Michigan) Baptist Chapel, a new church start-up, meeting in a school, and spending the weekdays knocking on the doors of the homes in the neighborhood. He later served at the Ainsworth Baptist Church in Flint, the Level Park Baptist Church in Battle Creek, and the Hillcrest Baptist Church in Pontiac. In July of 1979 he was installed as the pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Niles, serving a remarkable twenty-one-year pastorate there prior to his retirement in 2000.
“Retirement” was a relative term, as Rev. Poage continued to serve the Southern Baptist Convention as a member of various denominational committees and was a regular attender of annual national conventions. In order to honor his successor pastor to Bethel’s congregation, he immediately upon retirement accepted an interim pastor position at a church in Drayton Plains, Michigan and later became a member of South Side Baptist Church in South Bend, Indiana. He took a few part-time jobs including driving cars between dealerships, and he provided pastoral care at funerals for families who had no church association.
Rev. Poage’s vocational service to the church and continued volunteer service both locally and nationally was evidence of his devotion to God. Less obvious was his ongoing personal evangelism, meeting people one-on-one and introducing them to Jesus.
When not in the pulpit or in the office, Allan enjoyed traveling with his family, usually to visit relatives “down south”, and to regular reunions of a group of high school friends. At home, he enjoyed watching movies, usually classic westerns and comedies. He had a great sense of humor, and loved to laugh, especially at the comedians of the 50’s and 60’s. In addition to the comedy of the 60’s, Allan liked the clothing styles of the 60’s – ironed shirts and such – and the technologies of the 60’s, avoiding computers and cellular telephones.
An interesting constant in his life was water, from serving in the Navy and family trips to the shore, to decorating his office in the nautical style with ships, anchors, and lighthouses – all with Christian symbolism – and inviting new believers to the baptismal waters.
On August 11, 1967 in Sandy Ridge, North Carolina he married the former Ruth Emma Fulcher with whom he celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of their wedding before her death on June 1, 1993. He was also preceded in death by his parents and by a brother, R. Arden Poage.
Surviving family includes his daughters, Mary (& Jim) Burchette of Tipton, Indiana and Donna (& Jeff) Weiss of Indianapolis, Indiana; granddaughter, Emma Weiss; step-sister Maxine Dunn of Anderson, South Carolina; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Committal Services for the Rev. R. Allan Poage will be at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, October 29, 2021 at Mission Hills, 61453 M-51 in Niles with the Rev. Scott Smith of South Side Baptist Church officiating. The service will conclude with the Veteran’s Flag Presentation and “Taps”. The Celebration of the Life of the Rev. R. Allan Poage will be at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 30, 2021 at the South Side Baptist Church, 1130 East Jackson Road in South Bend with the Rev. Scott Smith of the church officiating. Both events may be viewed on the Halbritter-Wickens Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/halbritterwickensfuneralservices/ .
Contributions in memory of Rev. Poage may be made to South Side Baptist Church, 1130 East Jackson Road, South Bend, IN, 46614, https://www.southsidesbc.org/ .
Arrangements were made at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles. Online condolences may be left at:
Allan loved life and used it well in service to his country and his church, celebrating old friendships and meeting new friends, enjoying laughter, and loving his family. He continued to serve in retirement, and was frustrated when his body refused to support his activities. Most importantly, he was always mindful and testified of his love for the Creator of his life and these blessings.