Dr. H. K. Neely
University Administrator – Theologian
H.K. Neely, Jr. was born February 1, 1934 on a farm in Whitesboro, Texas. He was the first child of H.K. and Edna Neely, and would become a gifted preacher of the gospel, theologian and excellent academic administrator.
H.K. loved growing up on the farm in Grayson County, playing and working in God’s beautiful creation. He helped with daily chores and looked after his three younger sisters, learning the value of hard work coupled with love of family. He often shared stories from his early childhood of attending brush arbor meetings with his parents, borrowing “treasures” from his mother’s purse to play with in the sawdust during services. These experiences, no doubt, influenced his life-long love for brush arbors, or tabernacles as they were also called, fostered his devotion to the rural church, and developed within him a deep and abiding faith that would lead him to surrender his life to the ministry at the age of fourteen.
During H.K.’s teenage years, his family moved to West Texas when his father entered the oil business, later forming Neely Well Services. He attended Cisco High School, where he met his future bride, Barbara Schaefer, and graduated in 1951, the Salutatorian of his class. In high school he was named “Who’s Who in Academics and Activities,” served as school paper sports reporter and competed in speech tournaments. After graduation, he attended Cisco Jr. College where he was the Sports Editor of the College newspaper, was named to his second “Who’s Who” recognition and was a reporter for the Cisco Press. From Cisco Junior College he transferred to Baylor University, where he graduated in the fall of 1954 with a B.A. in Religion and History. Subsequently, he attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where, in 1963, he earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree and then a Doctorate of Theology in church history. In the summer of 1966 he pursued post-doctoral work at Harvard University.
H.K. was licensed and ordained at East Cisco Baptist Church in 1952 and began his ministerial career at Spring Creek Baptist Church near Meridian, TX. When he and Barbara married in Cisco, on July 18, 1953, it was only natural that they would attend church at Spring Creek the next day where he delivered both morning and evening sermons prior to leaving on a honeymoon. He later pastored at Necessity Baptist Church and then First Baptist Church, Rising Star. Throughout his life, he continued to preach for revivals, serve in interim pastorates, and conduct Bible Studies.
In the fall of 1963 he and his family moved to Bolivar, Missouri where he became In-Service Training Director at Southwest Baptist University, later founding the Courts Redford School of Theology and becoming the inaugural recipient of the Orien B. Hendrex Distinguished Teacher Award.
In 1980, God called H.K. to Hardin-Simmons where he founded the Logsdon School of Theology, of which he was Dean, served as the Phillips Professor of Bible and provided leadership for the building of the Logsdon School of Theology Complex. The structure’s unique curved shape serves as a powerful metaphor for the embracing arms of God’s love. His instrumental vision led to the design of the key elements in the Logsdon Chapel window, with the cross in the center, the Bible, God’s Word, on the right, and a dove on the left, representing the Holy Spirit.
He was instrumental in bringing excellent faculty to Logsdon and in recruiting students who have contributed significantly to the Logsdon community. In 1995, he led the Logsdon faculty to create the Master of Divinity degree, an effort that eventually grew into Logsdon Seminary, with its four graduate degrees and five extensions beyond the Abilene campus. While at Logsdon, H.K. was recognized by the Home Mission Board for his work in originating In-Service Guidance programs for Southern Baptist Colleges. He received the “Logsdon School of Theology Distinguished Alumni Award” as an Honorary Alumnus in April 1998.
In 1998, he returned to Southwest Baptist University to serve as Vice President for Denominational Relations and Dean of the Redford School of Theology. In 2002, he became Executive Director of the newly formed Baptist General Convention of Missouri, remaining in this position as a full-time volunteer for two years.
H.K. and Barbara had four children – Robert, Amy, Susan and Kara – and eight grandchildren.
For his distinguished service to the cause of Christ and for his outstanding contribution to theological education, Hardin-Simmons University is proud to induct H.K. Neely into the HSU Hall of Leaders.