Distinguished Alum of 2012

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary alumnus Edmund William “Bill” Hunke, Jr. was presented with the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award at the Seminary’s Arizona Campus graduation ceremony on May 26, 2012.

Hunke, a native of Taylor, Texas, earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Golden Gate in 1952, when the campus was located in Berkeley, California. His journey to seminary began when he accepted Jesus Christ in 1944, during World War II on a California P-38 flight line, through the personal witnessing of Clifford E. Clark, the first Home Mission Board state evangelist in California. He was baptized in the cold, melted-snow waters of the San Joaquin River. He met his future wife Naomi Ruth Savage in 1945, and they were married in 1946. She attended Golden Gate Seminary with Bill, and together they served in SBC mission work in the west for over 60 years.

“Dr. Hunke was one of the earliest graduates of Golden Gate Seminary,” said President Jeff Iorg. “He has invested his life fulfilling our mission of expanding God’s kingdom around the world. It is a privilege to honor him and celebrate his many accomplishments.”

During his joyful lifetime of service, Hunke was pastor of four churches in California, Utah, and Arizona, as well as serving numerous interim pastorates. He planted 14 churches in California and Arizona, plus was involved in starting more than six other churches, missions, and fellowships in Alaska during his tenure there as Executive Director.

Hunke has held many denominational positions in his career. He was the Home Mission Board’s Pioneer General Missionary for Arizona (1954-56); Director of Stewardship for Baptist General Convention of Arizona (1956-58); Associate Executive Secretary and State Missions Director for Arizona Southern Baptist Convention (1958-66); Home Mission Board’s architect for the formation of the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention and the Nevada Baptist Convention (1964); Executive Director of the Alaska Baptist Convention (1966-71); Chaplain (Major) for the Alaska Civil Air Patrol; Home Mission Board’s Western Regional Coordinator for the Southern Baptist state conventions of California, Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Northern Plains, Utah-Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and Nevada (1972-86); Director of Evangelism and Missions for the Grand Canyon Baptist Association in Arizona (1986-92); President of the Arizona Southern Baptist Historical Society (1991); and interim President of the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary (1993).

Hunke received several degrees including a Bachelor of Theology from Pacific Bible Institute, Bachelor of Arts degree from Fresno State University, Bachelor of Divinity from Golden Gate Seminary, and a Doctor of Education from Arizona State University.

He chose to attend Golden Gate because at that time Dr. B.O. Herring was the president. Herring’s son, Jack, was one of Bill’s best friends growing up in Waco, Texas. “The greatest benefit of my seminary education was having the opportunity to get a quality Biblical education while pastoring in the west,” said Hunke, expressing a profound appreciation for faculty members who not only taught courses, but lived exemplary lives.

He is the author of numerous articles, as well as two books: Southern Baptist Jubilee in the West (1996) and Southern Baptists in the Intermountain West, a 50-year history of Southern Baptist work in Utah, Idaho, and Nevada (1998).

“It is a real honor and blessing to be remembered and recognized,” said Hunke, “especially so long after my graduation in 1952!”

Hunke lives in Sedona, Arizona. He and Naomi, who passed away two years ago, have three children and five grandchildren. Today, at 88 years old, he is helping to plant another new church in Arizona, MissionPoint Baptist Fellowship, and provides his home as the church’s current place of worship. His vast Bible knowledge and love for the Lord are instrumental in nurturing and maturing Christ’s disciples while continuing to share the Gospel with a lost world.