In 1929 Alan Dale Danielson (always known as Dale) was born in Wyoming, and his family moved to Albuquerque 9 months later. From 9-months-old until his death at 85, Dale was active at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church. Dale told us, his family, what First Baptist was like when he was a young child. First Baptist’s previous location is a large facility that takes up much of downtown Albuquerque, but when Dale was a child it was only a basement. Reminiscing he said, “The pulpit sat up on a large wooden stage and the baptistery was beneath the floor. When someone was being baptized, they opened up hinged lids that made up part of the floor. My friends would sometimes wonder what would happen if the baptistery accidentally opened while the preacher preached.” He continued, “My mother told me about the gospel and I believed in Jesus when I was seven. I was baptized under that old floor by my pastor Henry Zimmerman.”
Dale lived through 14 pastors during his own 85-year-tenure at First Baptist. Among the many volunteer positions in which he was engaged, Dale taught fifth grade Sunday school for 25 years, served as a deacon, filled the role of church clerk, and made thousands of in-home visits to church guests. In addition to being a fixture at First Baptist Church, Dale served the cause of Christians throughout New Mexico. He was a Christian lobbyist in Santa Fe, was a friend and advisor to Governors and legislative leaders. He and his wife started a Baptist Historical Library in their home which now resides at the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. All the while Dale ran his own appliance repair business which he used to minister to countless people by sharing the gospel with them.
I have the distinct pleasure of being Dale’s son and was named after him. At age 18 I began working in vocational ministry, which I’ve continued to do for 25 years. Today I am a senior pastor and I believe my father’s greatest service to his church was that of “encourager-of-pastors”. My dad regularly sent hand-written notes to his pastors. He constantly supported every goal that his pastors put before the church. He made it a point never to complain about any changes in ministry or church-direction. I’ve known nine of the 14 pastors who served at First Baptist during my father’s lifetime and they’ve all told me at one time or another how grateful they are for my dad’s investment in them.
He wasn’t just an encouragement to pastors, however. My father encouraged everyone. Here are just a few thoughts that people shared with me on Facebook.
“His encouragement, his faithfulness, his generosity, his service, his prayerfullness, and his godly example was an inspiration to me through the years since. He never stopped challenging me to holiness.”
~Joe McKinney, Former FBC ABQ Senior Pastor
“When I think of Dale I think of the word love. He genuinely loved people and he modeled it not with just words but action.”
~John Carroll, Alan’s close friend
“My memories of Dale are his enthusiasm and encouragement to a young father about what great kids I had.”
~Boyd Pelley, Former FBC ABQ Discipleship Pastor
“To children he was a gentle, kind, fun-loving Godly teacher and for young adults he was a fine mentor and shining example of fatherhood, being a loving husband, man of integrity and to his own generation he was an honest church leader.”
~Lisa Francis, FBC ABQ member and Dale’s friend
“Dale had a way of making everyone feel special and loved.”
~Stephen Davison, former fifth grader in Dale’s Sunday school class
“Dale’s career was back breaking and tough, yet I never heard him complain.”
~Mike Sciarrillo, Alan’s close friend.
“Every church needs Godly men who can, by their presence, encourage, support and guide that church family in being and becoming the effective Body of Christ in their city and community!!! Dale Danielson was such a man!!!”
~Richard Bradford, former FBC ABQ minister of music
The words in Scripture that best articulate the what my dad would encourage us all to embody are from Paul’s epistle to the Philippian church:
Does your life in Christ give you strength? Does his love comfort you? Do we share together in the spirit? Do you have mercy and kindness? If so, make me very happy by having the same thoughts, sharing the same love, and having one mind and purpose. When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.
~Philippians 2:1-4 (NCV)
Dale passed away on March 7, 2015 leaving behind his wife of 50 years, Betty Danielson, his daughter, Nancy Adkins and spouse Tyler Adkins, and his son Alan Danielson and spouse Stacey Danielson. He also leaves behind 8 grandchildren and his large church family. All of us who have lost Dale here on earth are sad, but we are comforted with the truth that this is not “Good bye”; it is merely, “See you later!”