History of the Restoration Movement

Rufus David Underwood, Sr.


Biographical Sketch On The Life Of R. D. Underwood Sr.

Rufus David Underwood was born July 22, 1908, at Florence, Alabama. His parents were David Pink and Nannie Gooch Underwood. Rufus attended Coffee High School at Florence, Alabama. After graduation from high school, he attended David Lipscomb College (1927-1930) at Nashville, Tennessee. He was a member of the Lipscomb Literary Society.

On February 3, 1931, he was united in marriage to the former Mary Pitts Taylor of Decatur, Alabama. The wedding ceremony was performed by J. M. Powell, a college friend of Underwood. Both Mary and Rufus were popular students on the campus of David Lipscomb College. In 1929, she was voted the most beautiful girl and he was voted the most handsome boy. In 1930, he won the Founder's Day Oratorical Contest.

In the school annual of 1929, these words were written under the name, Rufus Underwood: "David Lipscomb College is proud to have as one of her members one of the coming orators. He possesses many qualities which gain the admiration of all who know him. With his cunning smile, he scattered sunshine and happiness along the way. His handsome and striking personality won for him the heart of a deserving girl."

Four children were born to Rufus David and Mary Pitts Underwood. The three boys were Rufus David, Jr., Keith Taylor and Stephen Alan. The daughter was Jan, now Mrs. John Allen Bradley.

Underwood began preaching in 1930 at the Central Church of Christ in Huntsville, Alabama. He did full time work as follows: Central Church of Christ, Huntsville, Alabama (1930-1935); Grant Street Church of Christ, Decatur, Alabama (1935-1937); Creswell Avenue Church of Christ, Shreveport, Louisiana (1937-1941); Grant Street Church of Christ, Decatur, Alabama (1941-1949); Central Church of Christ, Huntsville, Alabama (1949-1954). States in which he preached were Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Underwood was a member of the Board of Trustees for Childhaven Children's Home in Cullman, Alabama.

During his ministry, he also did some mission work at Madison Church of Christ, Madison, Alabama. He was interested in mission work and especially in encouraging young men to preach the gospel. Two well-known young men that he encouraged to preach were Ted Underwood and B. C. Carr.

Underwood's work on earth came to a very sudden end while he was in a meeting with the Flagler Street Church of Christ in Miami, Florida. The meeting had begun on Sunday morning, April 24, 1955. It was to have continued for ten days but on Wednesday night, April 27, he had preached a persuasive sermon on "The New Testament Church." The invitation had been extended, the song had been sung. He stepped back into the pulpit to speak a word. The word was never spoken; he slumped to the floor dead.

Through the years he had often expressed a desire to meet his Maker in the performance of duty. His desire was realized. Thus ended the early life of Rufus David Underwood, April 27, 1955, at Miami, Florida.

Survivors included his wife, Mary Pitts; three sons, Rufus David, Jr., Keith Taylor and Stephen Alan; the daughter, Jan (Mrs. John Allen Bradley). His parents, four of his brothers and one of his sisters preceded him in death. McKinley Underwood, a brother, and Mrs. Lowell Delano survived him.

Funeral service was conducted by Charles R. Brewer, Barney Brock, Sumter Sorrell, C. R. Scott, and Julian C. Green. The funeral service was conducted in the Grant Street Church of Christ in Decatur, Alabama, with burial in Roselawn Cemetery.

"Servant of God, well done!
Thy glorious warfare's past,
The Battle's fought, the race is won,
And thou art crowned at last."

-Gussie Lambert, In Memoriam, Shreveport, LA, c.1988, pages 272-274

Location Of The Grave Of Rufus D. Underwood

R. D. Underwood is buried in Decatur, Alabama in Roselawn Gardens Of Memory. The Cemetery is located at 709 Memorial Dr SW, Decatur, Alabama 35601-2916 Phone# 256-353-1602. In North Alabama take I-65 to Exit 340 (I-565 / Hwy. Alt. 72 West) toward Decatur. As you travel into Decatur you will cross the Tennessee River. Turn right on Moulton Rd. (Hwy. 24). Go 11 blocks and turn left on Memorial Dr. SW,. On Memorial Drive, turn right at the Brown Funeral Home and go to the main office inside the cemetery with large columns. Turn to the right across from the office. The Garden of the Apostles is the next section on the left. The grave is about 5 rows deep and six graves from the road.

GPS Location
34. 35.780 N x 87. 0. 241. W
Section 5, The Garden Of The Apostles

Rufus D. Underwood
July 22, 1908 - Apr. 27,1955

Mary P. Underwood McDonald
Jan. 9, 1913 - July 5, 2001

History Home

History Index Page