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ACU Remembers: Dr. Paul Faulkner

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Dr. Paul Faulkner
Dr. Paul Faulkner

Dr. Paul B. Faulkner (’52), teacher, preacher, counselor, professor, author and entrepreneur, died July 5, 2022, in Grapevine, Texas. He was 92.

A service honoring his life is planned for 1:30 p.m., Saturday, July 9, at The Hills Church, North Richland Hills Campus (6300 NE Loop 820, North Richland Hills, Texas, 76180), preceded by a private burial at Laurel Land Memorial Park.

Depending on the era, Faulkner’s friends and colleagues at Abilene Christian University may remember him as a teacher, minister, colleague, or the much taller half of the Marriage Enrichment Seminar he began with his college roommate and friend, Dr. Carl Brecheen (’52)

To many he was the Bible professor who could command a full house of freshmen in ACU’s Cullen Auditorium. Others knew him in his second career as founder of Resources for Living, an employee assistance counseling service. 

His oldest friends remember the collegiate track and field champion whose titles included the Drake Relays, Texas Relays (three times) and Kansas Relays (twice). He was the Wildcats’ best in the javelin throw and pole vault from 1949-52, holding the school record for each by the time he graduated.

Inevitably, they remember his voice: big, deep, slow and likely to burst into a long, head-shaking laugh at himself at any moment.  

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Dr. Carl Brecheen and Dr. Paul Faulkner presented their Marriage Enrichment Seminar to more than 2 million people in seven nations.
Dr. Carl Brecheen and Dr. Paul Faulkner presented their Marriage Enrichment Seminar to more than 2 million people in seven nations.

He was born Sept. 24, 1929, in Fort Worth, Texas, and was a track and field star at Paschal High School. Faulkner was headed to Rice University when his older sister persuaded him to attend Abilene Christian. He often recalled that she persisted late into the night on the subject until he finally told her, “Fine. If you’ll let me go to bed I’ll go to ACC.” 

In Abilene he began dating fellow Paschal graduate Gladys Shoemaker (’52) and they married July 12, 1952, after completing their degrees. And at ACU he met classmate Brecheen, the other great partner of his life, as they walked to church from their dormitory the first week of their freshman year.

He earned a master’s degree from ACU in 1961, and master’s and doctoral degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1966 and 1968, majoring in psychology.  He was a licensed marriage and family therapist and a clinical and supervisory member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, founding the Marriage and Family Institute at ACU in 1979. For many years, the institute was one of only two nationally accredited MFT programs in Texas.

Before and even after joining ACU as a faculty member and for seven years as dean of men, he preached for Churches of Christ in Kansas, North Carolina and Texas.  

In 1974, he and his lifelong friend Brecheen conducted their first Marriage Enrichment Seminar. Five years later, a seminar at the Abilene Civic Center that drew 1,600 in attendance was videotaped and became part of a video series that was seen by more than 2 million people worldwide. Seminars were conducted in 33 states and seven countries over 32 years.

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Faulkner was one of ACU students’ most beloved Bible professors for his personable, breezy classroom style and sharing life experiences. He was named the university’s Teacher of the Year in 1982.
Faulkner was one of ACU students’ most beloved Bible professors for his personable, breezy classroom style and sharing life experiences. He was named the university’s Teacher of the Year in 1982.

He retired from ACU in 1992 after 35 years on the faculty but continued teaching as an adjunct professor after founding Resources for Living, a counseling and consulting service for major American businesses including WalMart, McLane Trucking and Kroger Grocery Stores. His syndicated, one-minute radio broadcast, “Making Life Work for Your Family,” was heard on more than 600 stations nationally and he spoke for seminars and national conventions of numerous corporations. In 1996, he moved the company to Austin and he and Gladys settled in nearby Dripping Springs where they purchased a home on a small ranch they called Cypress Springs. He sold the company in 2008 and retired again.

A passion in the last 30 years of his life was supporting minister couples through the Ministers’ Renewal Workshop, a weekend retreat he and Gladys conducted with three other couples, welcoming those whose life in ministry brought stress or pain that often could not be shared in the churches where they served. The workshops provided a time of healing and counsel. The Ministers’ Support Network, a part of ACU’s Siburt Institute, is heir to that ministry.

Faulkner Meditation Garden, an outdoor contemplative space alongside Lunsford Foundation Trail and Faubus Fountain Lake at ACU, was dedicated in 2019 to honor the ministry of Paul and Gladys.

He received the Trustees Teacher of the Year Award in 1982 and was a 1994 inductee into the ACU Sports Hall of Fame. Faulkner and Brecheen, together with their wives, also received the Christian Service Award in 2001. He received Distinguished Christian Service Awards from Harding and Pepperdine universities and an honorary doctorate from Pepperdine. His publications include three books, one of which was co-authored with Brecheen: What Every Family Needs: Whatever Happened to Mom, Dad & Kids? 

Of all his accomplishments, family was his greatest. He made every effort to build relationships, and provide place and space for gathering, celebrating, playing, laughing and conversation. He and Gladys traveled the globe with their grandchildren and attended every sporting and musical event they could. 

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Faulkner had a major role in founding ACU’s Marriage and Family Institute in the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy.
Faulkner had a major role in founding ACU’s Marriage and Family Institute in the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Fred and Consuelo (’50) Faulkner; Gladys, his wife of 64 years; sisters Dr. Dartha Fay Starr (’41) and Jean Faulkner; and a brother, Fred Faulkner (’49). Among survivors are two daughters and two sons and their spouses: Debbie (Faulkner ’76) and Randy Clinton (’77) of Keller, Texas; Von (’78) and Dorsi Faulkner of Austin, Texas; Brad (’83) and Denise Faulkner of Henderson, Texas; and Connie (Faulkner ’86) and Larry Brown (’88 M.A.) of Flower Mound, Texas. He is also survived by eight grandchildren: Michael and Nick Catanese, Dylan Faulkner, Hunter (’12) and Jessica Clinton, Charles Rotenberry, M.D., (’12) and Hailey (Clinton ’12) Rotenberry, Corban (’14) and Haley (Dale ’16) Brown, Daniel (’17) and Brenna Brown, Ashton and Cris Bruyere; and Zane Faulkner; and by seven great-grandchildren: Caden and Charlee Catanese, Campbell and Ford Rotenberry, Violet and Kit Clinton, and Archie Brown.

Those wishing to honor his memory may do so by loving and caring for their families, and supporting the marriages and families of others around them, and by a gift to the Paul and Gladys Faulkner Center for Marriage and Family (ACU Box 29132, Abilene, Texas 79699-9132 or bit.ly/PaulFaulkner).

– Dr. Cheryl Mann Bacon

 
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