Paul Ransford ’65

Rev. Paul Ransford, Jr., was summoned home by our Lord on December 9, 2021. His service spanned over 50 years, ranging from a preacher at Covenant Presbyterian in Decatur, Alabama, to Director of Camp Manitoqua in Frankfort, Illinois, to Director of Outdoor Ministries for New Hope Presbytery, to Youth Minister and Associate Pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Durham. In addition, he served as Interim Pastor to many beloved churches. Paul’s unique gifts for leadership included strumming on his guitar and leading counselors and campers in “One Tin Soldier”, coordinating teams and supplies in response to national catastrophes as the “Disaster Pastor”, and embodying the love and compassion of Christ he deeply believed in. He loved cooking breakfast for youth, sitting among friends at the coast watching the sun set over the ocean, canoeing adventurously down an uncharted waterway filled, and hearing about the lives of others. His unconditional support and unconventional faith enabled him to take “church” out of the sanctuary and give it a form many sought and connected with. As a result, he leaves behind such a rich and meaningful legacy of proteges following in his ministry footsteps. As was said, “stories about Paul were larger than life and he was bigger than the stories.” He had a soft spot for the awkward teen, the mentally disabled, the poor and oppressed, as well as the rebel rousers. His preaching was brought to life by doing things like dressing in a robe and holding a staff while telling The Feeding of the Masses story of Jesus feeding a crowd of 5000 using fried chicken instead of fishes and loaves to make it more relatable. He richly impacted the lives of all who knew him and was one of a kind in the best kind of way. He will be missed. He is preceded in death by his wife of 52 years, Sally Kooistra Ransford; his brother, Chuck Ransford; as well as, his parents, Paul Ransford Sr. and Ruth VanDerMeer Ransford; and by his stepmother, Honor Ransford. Left to cherish their many memories with him are his daughters, Kristin Ransford ’91 Hiemstra (Hans ’89), Rebecca Champion (Lee), and Julie Leon (Aaron); and grandchildren, Haley and Zoe Hiemstra, Paul and Luke Champion, Hunter and Cooper Leon. The family will receive friends on Saturday, January 1, 2022 from 4:00 to 6:00pm at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Durham, NC. A celebration of life service will be held January 2, 2022 at 2:00pm at University Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, NC. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700, checks should be made to Presbyterian Church (USA).

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