For immediate release
March 19, 2004
Dr. Rollo Tinkler, 71, one of the founding professors of the Department of Social Work and Sociology at Abilene Christian University, died Thursday evening in Abilene.
Funeral services are being handled by Elliott-Hamil Funeral Home and are set for 1 p.m. Monday at University Church of Christ. Visitation will be Sunday 6:30-8 p.m. at Elliot-Hamil downtown.
Tinkler taught at ACU from 1976-99, when he became professor emeritus of sociology. He was an assistant professor in 1977 when the ACU board of trustees created the Department of Social Work and Sociology, and he was one of three faculty members who taught in the new department at the time. He became chair of the Department of Sociology, Social Work and Gerontology in 1980 and served as chair until 1999.
Under Tinkler’s leadership of the department, ACU’s social work program received national accreditation in 1981, said Dr. Tom Winter, associate provost at ACU and one of Tinkler's longtime colleagues. Tinkler also played a significant role in helping ACU begin the gerontology program, leading to the establishment of ACU's Pruett Center for Gerontology.
Because of Tinkler's early work with the Social Services Administration, ACU established a master's degree in social services administration that eventually led to the Nonprofit Management Center being located on the campus, Winter said.
Best known for his course called Social Problems, Tinkler focused his research and teaching on crime and delinquency, family life, and the study of religion.
A feature in the ACU student newspaper, The Optimist, from 1989 described the large enrollments he always drew to his classes and the reputation he had for making textbook courses come alive.
“Dr. Tinkler was one of my mentors and a favorite professor," said Dr. Michelle Morris, assistant vice president for university and alumni relations at ACU. "I took three or four classes from him because he made issues such as poverty and teen delinquency so real to me. He was a great teacher -- funny and smart and engaging -- and he will be missed by many colleagues and former students."
The beloved professor was asked by the class of 1987 to deliver the commencement address. In his speech, he encouraged students to "dedicate your special talents, training and opportunities to the glory of God and the service of others – even unto generations yet to be born."
Dr. Rae Adams, a longtime colleague at ACU, said Tinkler lived the challenge he gave to students. "He dedicated his talents to God and to serving others, and he has touched thousands of lives through his teaching and his church ministries."
Tinkler passed on his love of sociology to his daughter, Sherry, who is now teaching at ACU and working on her doctorate in sociology. His wife, Louise, also lives in Abilene.
"Rollo Tinkler was one fine Christian man," Adams said. "I never saw him angry, and he made everyone laugh. He was always considerate of students, and he loved to entertain students in his home. He was a wonderful man to work for, and a good friend. We will all miss him terribly."
He was involved at ACU in leading small-group chapel and in preaching at various Churches of Christ through the Christian Education Sundays program.
Tinkler earned his bachelor's degree in religious education from ACU in 1954, his master’s in Bible in 1962, a master's in sociology from East Texas State University in 1972, and his doctorate in sociology from North Texas State University in 1976.
During his professional career, he was a member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Southwestern Social Science Association. He was a contributing author to the college textbook, "Sociology: A Pragmatic Approach."
In 1988, Tinkler had to undergo bypass surgery to clear clogged arteries in his heart. He returned to the classroom in just five weeks. He exercised and took care of himself as best he could, but the heart blockages continued, and he underwent three procedures to install stents in the arteries in his heart in the ensuing years. Until his fatal heart attack, however, there had not been any particular symptoms of health concerns -- he'd been working in the yard with Louise earlier on the day he died.
"Dr. Rollo Tinkler ran a fine race," said Dr. Royce Money, ACU president. "He ran the most important race -- he was a man of strong faith throughout his life -- and he finished strong. He kept his eyes on the prize, and we all loved and respected him for his dedication to students, to teaching and to Jesus Christ."
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