Homer T. Rickabaugh dies at 80

Church leader served as missionary, nurtured international partnerships

December 29, 2012


The Rev. Homer T. Rickabaugh, 80, died unexpectedly at his home in Statesville, N.C., on Dec. 28. During his illustrious career, he served as a pastor, educator and missionary before concluding his career with the Worldwide Ministries Division of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) developing and nurturing relationships between U.S. Presbyterians and partner churches overseas.

Rickabaugh was born in Wilmington, Del., and raised in Montoursville, Pa. He graduated from PC(USA)-related Maryville (Tenn.) College and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and was ordained by Northumberland Presbytery in 1957.

His first call was to mission service in South Korea, where he taught at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Seoul from 1957-1960 and from 1961-1979. Between those two stints, he did post-graduate study at Union Theological Seminary in Virgina, where he met and married Natalie Rose Abbott. She survives him.

Upon their return to the U.S. in 1979, Rickabaugh served as missionary-in-residence at Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. He subsequently served pastorates in Raeford and Morganton, N.C.

In 1987 Rickabaugh joined the PC(USA) national staff, where he was consultant and coordinator for more than 100 partnerships between U.S. Presbyterian and their partner churches around the world until his retirement in the late 1990s.

In retirement he stayed active in the Association of Presbyterians for Cross-Cultural Mission and in congregations in Louisville and Statesville.  In 2003 he was named distinguished alumnus by Louisville Seminary.

Rickabaugh was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers ― Barry Livingston Rickabaugh and Ramon W. Rickabaugh. In addition to Natalie, he is survived by siblings  Doris Rickabaugh Cinque, Carey "Rick" Rickabaugh and Janet Rickabaugh White; three children: Beth Rickabaugh Setzer, Dr. John Clyde Rickabaugh and Judy Rickabaugh Candler; and five grandchildren—Mark Ryan Rickabaugh, John Parker Rickabaugh, Sara Margaret Setzer, Rachel Caroline Setzer, and Andrew Davis Setzer.

A memorial service celebrating the life of Homer T. Rickabaugh, whom this writer was honored to call a good friend, will be held Jan. 1 at 11:00 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, Statesville, N.C.

  1. During my family's years at Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church in Kentucky, we were blessed to get to know Homer and Natalie Rickabaugh. Homer was a wonderful servant of God and a role model to all who knew him. Our prayers are with Natalie and the family.

    by Steven Farr

    December 31, 2012

  2. Our condolences and congratulations to all of us who knew Homer. He is a good man whose ambition was serving the Lord, which he and Natalie did very well!

    by Betts Huntley

    December 31, 2012

  3. I had the privilege of serving with Homer at First Presbyterian Church, Morganton,NC as associate pastor. This was my first call. I will always be truly grateful for his encouragement and collegiality as well as friendship. Homer made sure I experienced all the responsibilities of ministry and so gave me a great foundation for my future as a pastor. I thank God for Homer and the promise of the eternal life.

    by Beth Ann Miller

    December 30, 2012