Former Pampa Minister Was Well Known In The Panhandle

The Rev. James Todd became a minister in 1912 after he had been fired as a railroad stenographer. There had been preachers and doctors in his family as far back as he knew and he became the preacher of his generation. He met his wife, Evelyn, while doing church work in Illinois.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

At the age of 42 in 1923, he came to Rabbit Ear Mountain near Clayton , New Mexico because he was suffering from tuberculosis. Doctors in Illinois told him that it would take three years and a dry climate to arrest the disease.

Soon after arriving in New Mexico , he began taking long walks to the rim of Apache Valley where he would sit and gaze across the prairie at the northeastern New Mexico mountain. He felt that he would conquer his tuberculosis if he could climb to the top. One of the most thrilling moments of his life came a year and a half later when he climbed to the summit of Rabbit Ear Mountain .

On June 6, 1925, the Rev. Todd became the minister of the First Christian Church in Pampa . With his wife, Evelyn, and his daughter, Emma Boone, he lived in the church parsonage at 309 North Ballard. Mrs. Evelyn Todd was librarian at the Pampa Public Library which was in the basement of the City Hall at that time. Emma Boone, who attended school in Pampa , later became a psychologist with the Illinois State Hospital .

The Rev. Todd was minister of the First Christian Church when the oil boom erupted in Gray County . Under his able leadership the church made progress in its total program during that period of rapid growth. The large influx of people necessitated a larger building to accommodate the newcomers. A brick building was constructed on the corner of East Kingsmill and North Starkweather . The first unit (educational) was dedicated in 1928.

The Rev. O’Malley was called as minister in 1929, and the Rev. Todd left Pampa to minister other churches in the Panhandle. Under his leadership the First Christian Churches in Stinnett, Muleshoe and Plains became self-supporting. The success of these three churches earned him the title of Texas Town and Country Pastor of the Year in 1959.

In 1965 the Rev. Todd was pastor of the First Christian Church in Claude. It was the Custom for him and several other local pastors to set out each day at 6 a.m. for a rambling walk reaching about a mile outside of Claude. The ministers did not “talk shop” but enjoyed conversation and the countryside.

In addition to “talking shop” in the pulpit, the Rev. Todd was the man out front in any civic project, the kibitzer in the downtown pool hall, the sideline rooter at football games and the poker-faced humorist at coffee breaks in the drug store. This down-to-earth quality made him a man who could walk down a street in almost any West Texas town and meet at least half a dozen friends along the way.

(From Amarillo Daily News October 11, 1965, and 50th anniversary booklet of the First Christian Church.)

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

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