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Chickasha minister wore many hats for his community

Rodney Carroll, 61, died on Saturday in accident off of the H.E. Bailey Turnpike near Chickasha. Carroll not only served as the minister for Ninnekah Church Of Christ, but also as a counselor and patriarch for the Chickasha community.
by Adam Kemp Published: March 9, 2014
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Rodney Carroll always wore the right hat in the right situation.

A Red Sox hat during baseball season, an Indiana Jones style fedora for camp and other adventurous activities and a flat cap for everyday wear.

After losing his hair at an early age, Carroll’s family and friends liked to tease him about his constant search for his missing hat, it seemed he was always forgetting where he last put the thing down; more than likely though a member of his youth group had taken the opportunity to hide it for a joke.

Carroll, 61, died March 1 in an accident off of the H.E. Bailey Turnpike near Chickasha after returning from picking his wife Diana up from the airport. The couple was traveling behind a car that careened off the icy road and struck a barrier.

Before his wife could tell him to be safe, Carroll was out of their SUV and attempting to help the hurt couple in the wrecked car. That’s when a school bus behind them also lost control on the ice, striking Rod and killing him.

“We lost the best man we’ve ever known,” Diana said. “He left this world doing what he did best and that was helping others.”

A packed house filled the 26 church pews inside the small sheet metal building that houses Ninnekah Church of Christ just off U.S. 81, a couple of miles from the heart of Chickasha.

The building is no larger than a high school gymnasium as it usually only houses a 60-member congregation, but the place is filled for Carroll, easily passing the 200 mark. The church is filled with tokens of Carroll’s presence including writings left over from last Sunday’s bible study lessons and a hanging picture chart of prisoners who had requested prayer.

Members inside the small church for Wednesday’s prayer service crossed paths with the other slices of their pastor’s life. Together they spent the night remembering his works and appreciating the life of their friend, mentor and counselor.

Memories of their pastor were shared, Carroll’s favorite hymns were sung, and a last crack about his hat was made.

“God is telling Rod, ‘Well done, My good and faithful servant,’” said an older man from the congregation. “Now as he walks the golden stairs, we hope he don’t lose his hat.”

Carroll’s booming voice and hearty amens that he developed in his more than 40 years behind a pulpit always were able to keep the attention of his flock. Despite not having their minister there, the noisy sanctuary still came to a collective silence as they sensed the service about to start.

Youth pastor Landon Lewis led the service, taking Carroll’s place at the lectern with an entire congregation now looking to him for guidance.

Lewis encouraged everyone to be there for each other and to be there for Carroll’s family.

“We are all sitting in a mourning pew,” Lewis said. “Scoot a little closer to the person next to you and throw your arm around them. It’s what Rod would’ve wanted, to be there for each other.”

They kicked off with some of Carroll’s favorite hymns; two of them about being a servant for the Lord and others about living a more selfless life.

Longtime friend and fellow church member Richard Bennett spoke next about Carroll’s reach in the community.

“This church was a dream to him,” Bennett said. “The souls he was able to touch and the lives he changed… he definitely loved his neighbors.”

Charlie Kendrick, who started out sitting in the back pew by himself, was joined by some members of the church. They made small talk before the service and Charlie went and grabbed tissues for the woman next to him after she started crying during a hymn.

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by Adam Kemp
Enterprise Reporter
Adam Kemp is an enterprise reporter and videographer for the Oklahoman and Newsok.com. Kemp grew up in Oklahoma City before attending Oklahoma State University. Kemp has interned for the Oklahoman, the Oklahoma Gazette and covered Oklahoma State...
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