At memorial service and on social media, students, colleagues react to professor William R. Cutrer’s death
Cutrer became the first medical doctor to join the faculty of Southern following his successful career as an obstetrician and gynecologist in Texas. While at the seminary, he served as staff physician of the school’s Hagan Clinic, an on-campus limited health maintenance service staffed by a charge nurse and physician.
The morning he died, Cutrer, who was 62, left his home for a bicycle ride and not long after, fellow cyclists found him tipped over on his bicycle, according to the family. First responders tried to revive Cutrer without success.
Three days later, the family held a memorial service at the Cutrer’s church, Crestwood Baptist Church in Crestwood, Ky. Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and a close friend of Cutrer and his family for more than 30 years, spoke at the service from Psalm 1.
“In many ways, the Cutrer family had four brothers and I was the fourth, and was always treated like that and so much more,” Akin said. “In fact, were I to attempt today to share all the ways in which Charlotte and I were a part of this family, we’d be here a long, long, long time.”
Akin, who formerly served as vice president of academic administration at Southern Seminary, shared to the story about how Cutrer delivered each of the Akin sons. One difficult pregnancy forced Charlotte Akin to bedrest. Cutrer and his wife, Jane, invited the Akins to move in with them for remainder of the pregnancy, which they did.
Akin concluded his comments drawing a parallel between Cutrer and the psalmist’s vision of a blessed man: “Adrian Rogers said that life is lived in depth, not length,” he said. “And if a live lived in the depth of God’s grace and goodness is certain to be a blessed life, then Bill Cutrer lived a very blessed life as first trophy of God’s amazing grace but also as an example worthy of all of us to study and in many ways emulate.”
Also at the funeral, Cutrer’s second son, read from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem, “Crossing the Bar,” noting the poem’s significance to three generations of Cutrers.
“Finally, I would like to end by reading a poem that my dad found solace in at the passing of his father, who also found solace in it at the passing of his,” he said.
Following the funeral, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary, led at the graveside ceremony.
In the hour following the announcement of Cutrer’s death on July 13, social media outlets Facebook and Twitter demonstrated Cutrer’s influence on many people’s lives in many contexts.
One of the first to comment about Cutrer, Mohler sent a tweet highlighting two of Cutrer’s passions: “Dr. Cutrer spent years helping babies to be born before helping a generation of young ministers be born into ministry.”
In the same time frame, Russell D. Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of Southern Baptist Convention and a former colleague of Cutrer at the seminary, summarized through Twitter reactions to Cutrer’s life: “Consistent theme in what I’m hearing today from fellow @SBTS alums about Bill Cutrer: gratitude for how he strengthened their marriages.”
One such story is Tim Brister, a popular blogger and pastor and elder of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla., posted about Cutrer’s influence on his marriage.
“My wife, Dusti, and I were greatly enriched by his teaching and modeling the Christian life in the daily grind, especially in marriage,” Brister wrote on Facebook. “At the time where the stresses and challenges of seminary life seemed most difficult, God used Dr. Cutrer to strengthen and equip us with God's grace and truth where we needed it most.”
Trevin Wax, editor of LifeWay Christian Resources’ Gospel Project Sunday school curriculum, credited Cutrer with helping deepen his faith while he was a student at the seminary. “Grieving the sudden loss of @SBTS professor William Cutrer. His passion and example helped fan the flames of my love for Jesus,” he said through Twitter.
During his time in Louisville, Ky., Cutrer was an active pro-life advocate and practitioner in the community. For many years, he was the medical director for A Woman’s Choice Resource Center, a non-profit special health clinic that provides pregnancy testing, ultrasounds and other services for crisis pregnancies and post-abortion support.
In the hours after Cutrer’s death, Timothy Paul Jones, professor of leadership and family ministry at the seminary, said through Twitter, “Who knows how many people are alive today due to Dr. Bill Cutrer's work with pregnant mothers in crisis,” highlighting Cutrer’s pro-life efforts.
The comments of a Cutrer family friend, Debbye Brown, noted the diversity of Cutrer’s ministry. She posted to Facebook, “So sad to hear about the sudden passing of William Cutrer. He was our friend, Sunday School teacher, and OB/GYN. He was the one who prayed us through the entire process of not being able to conceive to delivering Tim. He was a great man of God and will be greatly missed by many.”
Those who wish to give expressions of sympathy in Cutrer’s honor may do so through gifts to the Gheens Center for Family Ministry at Southern Seminary and to A Woman’s Choice Resource Center in Louisville.