Obituary: Daniel John Yeary

Daniel John Yeary, longtime Baptist minister, died Jan. 4 in Houston. He was 81.

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Daniel John Yeary, longtime Baptist minister, died Jan. 4 in Houston. He was 81. He was born Dec. 28, 1938, to John and Eileen Yeary in Miami, Okla. He grew up in Cleburne, where he earned nine varsity sports letters at Cleburne High School and was a student leader at First Baptist Church. Yeary then attended Hardin-Simmons University where he played quarterback under Coach Sammy Baugh and was president of the Baptist Student Union. As a student at HSU, he served on staff at Colonial Hill Baptist Church in Snyder and Southside Baptist Church in Abilene. He and Melinda Millican married on March 31, 1961. Following Yeary’s graduation from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, where he received the J. M. Price Scholarship Award as outstanding student in the School of Religious Education, he began leading student work for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. After two years, he was called to lead the college ministry at First Baptist Church in Lubbock. Under his leadership, the ministry grew so large the church initiated one of the first student-led worship services in the country. More than 1,000 students attended each Sunday. From Lubbock, the Yearys moved to South Main Baptist Church in Houston, where he served as associate pastor and developed a pioneering ministry to single adults. In 1975, he was called to University Baptist Church in Coral Gables, Fla., as senior pastor. Under his leadership, the church grew to exceed 2,000 in attendance any given Sunday. After 18 years in Florida, the Yearys followed God’s call to Arizona, where for two decades he served as pastor of North Phoenix Baptist Church, one of the nation’s largest churches. Facing the challenge of leading the church and being his wife’s primary caregiver during her long struggle with Multiple Sclerosis, Yeary stepped down from his pastorate at North Phoenix. The couple moved to Waco in 2013, where he was interim pastor of First Woodway Baptist Church and adjunct professor at Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary. Following Melinda’s death in 2016, he moved to Houston in 2017 to be closer to his children and grandchildren. Hardin-Simmons University awarded Yeary an honorary doctorate in 1996, granted him the HSU Distinguished Alumni Award in 2003, and named him to the HSU Hall of Leaders in 2009. Yeary was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 55 years, Melinda, and his brother, Ron (Speedy) Yeary. He is survived by son Wes Yeary and daughter-in-law Erica; daughter Missy Yeary Wells and son-in-law Steve; son Doak Yeary and daughter-in-law Amy; and 10 grandchildren. He was looking forward to the birth of his first great-grandchild at the end of this month. A service celebrating his life and faith will be held at 1 p.m. on Jan. 10 at South Main Baptist Church in Houston. In lieu of flowers, the family requested memorial gifts be made to South Main Baptist Church in Houston or the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.


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