Born: May 14, 1934; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Died: February 2, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Dr. A. Ronald Tonks of Nashville, Tennessee, died February 2, 2023 at the age of 88. He was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, son of Alfred Josiah Tonks and Gertrude Anna Tonks (née Kion).
Dr. Tonks received his Bachelor's Degree from McGill University (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) in 1955; his Bachelor of Divinity from McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) in 1958; and his Master of Theology and Doctor of Philosophy at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, in 1964 and 1968.
Ron began his career serving as a student pastor at churches in both Picton and Maxville in Ontario, Canada from 1956 to 1957 and full time Pastor of Val Royal Baptist Church in St. Laurent, Quebec, Canada from 1957 to 1962. While a student at Southern Seminary, Ron was Pastor of Silverville Baptist Church, Williams, Indiana, USA, from 1963-1969. After graduation, Ron worked as an Assistant and Associate Professor of History at Indiana Central College (University of Indianapolis) from 1968 to 1972. Ron moved to Nashville to begin his denominational responsibilities serving as Assistant Executive Director of the Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Nashville, Tennessee, 1972-1989. He then worked as Assistant Archivist at the Woman’s Missionary Union, Birmingham, Alabama, 1990-1992. For the last thirty years of his life, he taught courses in U.S. history at Middle Tennessee State University, as well as Tennessee State University, Nashville State and Vol State. Finally, for the last number of years, Ron worked as Assistant Archivist at the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, Nashville, Tennessee. He truly loved history, teaching through December 2022, and archiving until January 2023.
Ron authored and co-authored books related to religious history, including Faith, Stars, and Stripes: The Impact of Christianity on the Life History of America (1976), Sunrise on the Wabash: A Short History of Indiana Southern Baptists (1973), and Duke McCall, An Oral History (2001).
Ron was an active member of Crievewood Baptist Church in Nashville since he moved there with his family in 1972. During his years at Crievewood he served as a preschool worker, an adult Sunday school teacher, deacon, and a teacher of English as a second language.
Ron had an intense interest in traveling, geography, and world cultures. He was proud to have traveled to a number of countries (on his Canadian passport, of course) in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. Our family has many fond and funny memories of our travels with him. Ron also followed politics and current events, and financial news held a very special place in his heart and his conversation. Although many thought him a serious person, he thoroughly enjoyed ice cream and comedy. In his younger years, he listened often to albums from comedians such as Bob Newhart and Spike Jones. Then after television became popular, he enjoyed variety and sketch comedy shows such as The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and The Carol Burnett Show, and he faithfully watched Saturday Night Live up until his death.
Ron was preceded in death by his son, Douglas Tonks; and wife, Charlotte Tonks (née Cooper).
Ron is survived by his sons, Ken (Carrie Beth) Tonks of Lexington, KY, and Stephen Tonks of Aurora, IL; four grandchildren, Andrew and Benjamin Tonks of Lexington, KY, Spencer and Ian Tonks of Aurora, IL; daughter-in-law, Francesca Peppiatt of Chicago, IL; three stepchildren and seven stepgrandchildren; and former wife, Ann Tonks (née Morrison).
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