Longtime Mizzou Bible professor, BSU director Fred Neiger dies - Word&Way

Longtime Mizzou Bible professor, BSU director Fred Neiger dies

Longtime University of Missouri Professor of Bible Fred E. Neiger, 100, of Columbia died Jan. 7 in St. Louis.

Funeral services were held Jan. 9 at Calvary Baptist Church in Columbia. Burial was in Laurel Hills Cemetery in St. Louis on Jan. 10.

Neiger was a professor of Bible and director of the Baptist Student Union at Mizzou for a quarter of a century before retiring at age 65. He then worked another 31 years as an interim pastor and pastor of hospital visitation.

Fred Neiger speaks at his 100th birthday celebration.

A lifelong sports fan, he was a member of baseball's original Knot Hole Gang in St. Louis during World War I, and served as an unofficial chaplain for the University of Missouri Tigers football team for many years.

He received a great deal of media publicity in 2006 as a 96-year-old still making daily rounds at Columbia hospitals, praying with patients and sitting with their families during surgeries. That year, Calvary Baptist held a day of events honoring his 20th anniversary as an associate pastor there. He fully retired at the end of that year when surgery left him unable to walk.

He lived at Lenoir Health Care Center, taking time to travel often to his daughter's home in St. Louis, to Washington, D.C., for the wedding of a grandson, and exactly a year ago celebrating his 100th birthday on a Caribbean cruise.

He was born Jan. 11, 1910, in St. Louis to Caspar and Emma Neiger, immigrants from Switzerland and Germany.  He completed two years at Southwest Baptist College in Bolivar before earning a bachelor's degree at William Jewell College, where he met Fern Fowler of Vandalia, a fellow student who worked in youth ministry. They married in 1941.

Neiger earned a master's and doctorate of theology degrees at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and became pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in St. Louis in 1945. The Missouri Baptist Convention asked him to move to Columbia in 1949 to teach university courses on the Bible and to run the Baptist Student Union. He estimated that he taught about 7,000 students before retiring in 1975.

Neiger ministered to university athletes and sometimes traveled with them.

While at Mizzou, he filled pulpits most Sundays in country and town churches across mid-Missouri. From 1975 to 1986, he served as interim pastor of churches going through difficult transitions. From 1978 to 1979, he was the pastor of an English-speaking Baptist church in Mexico City while the pastor took a year furlough in the United States.

He also served on mission trips to Hong Kong, Australia and a number of other countries, as well as helping establish a pastors' school in Pittsburgh.

He is survived by his son, Al of Detroit; daughters, Helen Neiger of Columbia, Shirley Beck of Washington, D.C., and Sharon McCarthy of St. Louis; a sister, Dorothy of St. Louis; brother-in-law, John of Vandalia; nine grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren in Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and New York.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggested contributions to the Baptist Student Union, 812 Hitt St., Columbia, Mo. 65201.