By Baptist Message staff
PINEVILLE, La. (LBM) – Leon Hyatt, former Louisiana Baptist Convention president and a missions services staff member, died Wednesday, Jan. 26. He was 95.
GOD & COUNTRY
A native of Lake Charles, Hyatt, at nine years old, surrendered his life to Christ and was baptized at Trinity Baptist Church, Lake Charles. A year later, God used the Royal Ambassador ministry at Trinity to call Hyatt to the ministry.
Before launching into his lifetime of vocational service to God, Hyatt enlisted in the U.S. Army and was awarded the Purple Heart after he was injured in the battle to liberate Wingen sur Moder, ALCUase, France, from Nazi control.
After completing his military service in 1946, Hyatt enrolled at Louisiana Christian University and then was called as pastor of Gillis First Baptist Church, Lake Charles. He also was pastor of Woodlawn Baptist Church, Baton Rouge (1949-1955), First Baptist Church, Houma (1955-1976) and Pineville Grace Baptist Church, Libuse (2002-2011).
As a member of the LBC missions staff (1976-1993), Hyatt served, at separate times, as language missions director, Cooperative Missions director and as church extension director.
He also was active in other areas of Southern Baptist life, including president of the LBC (1970-1971), and as a member of the board of trustees for the Foreign Mission Board, which later became the International Mission Board (1988-1996) and Louisiana Christian University, which recently became Louisiana Christian University (2003-2009). In recent years, Hyatt was also was a member of First Baptist Church, Pineville, where he taught a men’s Sunday School class and served as a prayer partner for the Upward Sports ministry.
“Though we are saddened to realize the end of an earthly relationship, we rejoice that Dr. Hyatt was as visible a leader as Louisiana Baptists have ever known,” Louisiana Baptist Executive Director Steve Horn told the Baptist Message. “We have much to be thankful for when we think of his leadership. He loved Jesus, his family, the local church and Louisiana Baptists.”
Stewart Holloway, pastor of First Baptist, Pineville, remembered Hyatt as a constant encourager and champion for the Gospel.
“Dr. Hyatt always found a way to encourage me – especially if he gleaned something new from a message or Bible study. How could something I had to say give him anything new? As a biblical scholar and student until his final days, he had forgotten more than I will ever know! His passion for the church and the kingdom of God was unparalleled.”
LCU President Rick Brewer said Hyatt will be remembered for his long-standing service to Louisiana Baptists and love for his alma mater, which received his pastoral library of 6,000 books in 2016.
“The Louisiana Christian University family grieves the loss of Dr. Leon Hyatt, an iconic leader and voice for Kingdom work in Louisiana for multiple decades,” Brewer said. “He was a friend to LCU and a prayer warrior who fully supported the mission and vision of the university. We are pleased to house most of Dr. Hyatt’s rich collection of books and Bible commentaries in the Norton Library on campus.”
Visitation was be Sunday, Jan. 30, at Hixson Brothers Funeral Home, Pineville. The celebration of Hyatt’s life will take place Monday, Jan. 31, at First Baptist Church, Pineville.