History of the Restoration Movement

Thurman Gayle Oler


The Life of T. Gayle Oler

Thurman Gayle Oler was born in Greenville, Texas June 17, 1910 of John C. and Annie Kathryn Oler. He attended the Greenville High School. He then attended East Texas State University, Abilene Christian University, and Harding University. While in High School he began to date Mary Kelly, who was a member of the New Testament church. Gayle had joined the Baptist church at the age of fourteen, following the religious convictions of his parents. As a result of the difference in their religious views Gayle and Mary began to study the Bible together after they were both enrolled in East Texas State. They often studied on the circular drive at East Texas, and it was not unusual for other students to join them in this study. Roy Cogdill was preaching for the Johnson Street church in Greenville where Mary attended when she was at home, and she asked Brother Cogdill to talk with Gayle. Of course he did! Gayle obeyed the gospel on September 2, 1928. Mary gives Brother Cogdill credit for teaching Gayle. He had already been in school at East Texas, but the Johnson Street brethren wanted him in a Christian College, and sponsored his first term at Abilene in the Spring of 1929. That fall he entered Harding University at Morrilton, Arkansas. Incidentally (but probably not accidentally) he proposed to Mary three days after his baptism. (She was the only sweetheart he ever had and she had indicated that she would not marry a man who was not a Christian.)

He preached his first sermon at Farmersville, Texas on June 16, 1929, one day before he was nineteen years old. In the summer of 1929 he preached for the Johnson Street church in Greenville while Brother Cogdill was away for meeting work. This lasted about six weeks. He spent twelve and a half years in local work in Gilmer, Terrell, Ennis, Temple and Gladewater, all in Texas. On December 6, 1943 he moved his family to the Boles Home at Quinlan and became the Superintendent of that home.

He served well in this capacity for the major part of his remaining life, retiring because of serious health problems the first of 1970 when he moved to Dallas. In addition to his work at The Home, he continued to preach. Although the Boles Home congregation usually had a regular preacher, he did much preaching there and at many other places. His meeting work took him into just about all parts of the nation. He was a very effective preacher, and was always well received. While in local work in East Texas he especially enjoyed meeting work among the rural congregations, where he brought many people to the Lord. While in Gladewater, he did a daily radio program from a Kilgore station for two years, and had a radio debate with A.C. Kirkland, a Baptist preacher. Among the many people he brought to The Lord, were his parents, brothers and sisters and other relatives.

Gayle and Mary were married by Z.D. Barber at the Boles Home on August 17, 1931, the first couple to be married "on the hill". They would have married sooner, but the depression made it very difficult to get enough money together. Four children were born to them. They are: Gayle Edward; Paul Robert; Mary Kathryn (Mrs. Jack Felmet); and Sarah Ellen (Mrs Dick Blythe). All are faithful Christians and active in The Lord's work. The two sons do much teaching where they worship.

One could not listen to Gayle talk about his work with children without being impressed with the fact that he took such work very seriously, and that he was diligent in learning all he could about it. Many improvements were made in the Boles program through the years that he was there, and the brotherhood had confidence in his work. In the fifties, when so much opposition to such work was raised by some, Boles Home weathered "the storm" in good shape. In 1931, while preaching at Gilmer, he began the publication of Just A Moment, a small and useful paper. He published it for a third of a century. (Mary can probably supply copies of this work, if you would like to have it.) He built his own printing plant across the road from the Boles Home, and upon his retirement, gave this to The Home. It was then worth about twenty five thousand dollars. In 1967 the Village Church in Oklahoma City asked him to visit Vietnam to investigate the possibilities of caring for some of the many orphans there. He worked hard at this project, but the tides of war kept this mission of mercy from becoming a reality. He was a popular speaker for civic clubs, graduation ceremonies, and any special gathering. He received the Christian Journalism Award from the 20th Century Christian at Pepperdine University, Los Angeles, California in 1962. He was active in the Texas Association for Executives of Children's homes; The Southwest Association for Executives of Children's Homes, and a similar organization among our own people. He was always busy in some worthwhile activity.

In 1959 the Sherwood and Myrtie Foster Home for Children was established in Stephenville, Texas. The Fosters asked Gayle to serve as Superintendent, and for it to be under the direction of the Boles Board of Directors. This was done, and Gayle served as the head of each of the Homes until his retirement. He edited and published the paper for each of the homes through the years. The two Homes-were legally .separated effective January 1, 1972. At that time Dick Blythe, husband of the Oler's fourth child, Sarah, became the Director under a new board of directors.

In February, 1969 he was hospitalized for a month in the Baylor Medical Center in Dallas for an infected heart valve. He continued to work for the rest of his life, but the heart condition gradually worsened. which brought on his resignation, retirement, and move to Dallas the first of 1970. They worshipped with the Whiterock church, and he served as one of its elders for three years. Though the heart problem did not improve, he was able to keep busy. In 'September, 1973, he and Mary went to Port Aransas, Texas for a combination mission meeting and vacation, planning to stay eight weeks. The small church there was unable to have a full time preacher, and he planned to preach for them while there. He preached the first three Sundays, and on Friday, October fifth, The Lord saw fit to call him home. The mortal man sleeps in the Laurel Land cemetery in Dallas.

He had planned to preach there only sixteen times, but as he went through his material he came up with about fifty sermons that he considered basic to The Faith, and Mary says these were really a statement of his faith. Some of the subjects were: "Why I Want To Go To Heaven", "The Message Of The Master", etc. Perhaps some day Mary will publish some of these for he left a wealth of sermon material.

I first became acquainted with Gayle when we were both students at Harding. Throughout life our paths often crossed, and it was always a pleasure to see and visit with him. I think he was a great and good man whose influence for The Master will live for a long, long time.

Mary continues to work, doing what she and Gayle loved so much to do–teach The Word. She is also doing some college work, writing and publishing poetry–always busy in The Lord's work. She continues to live in Dallas.

May The Lord bless the memory of Gayle Oler, and bless and keep his loved ones until they all meet again!

-Gospel Preachers Of Yesteryear, Loyd L. Smith, pages 253-256

Obituary of T.G. Oler

Gayle Oler, former superintendent of Boles Home for Children at Quinlan, Texas, died suddenly at Port Aransas, Texas, October 6, 1973. Funeral services were held in Dallas, Texas, at 10:30 A.M., October 8, with Jimmy Wood and Robert K. Oglesby officiating. Interment was in Laurel Land Cemetery in Dallas with ex-students of Boles Home serving as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers were the elders of the White Rock congregation and the Board of Directors of Boles Home.

Thurman Gayle Oler, a son of the late John Oler and Annie Kathryn Kitchings Oler, was born in Greenville, Texas, on June 17, 1910. He was educated in the public schools there and attended East Texas State University, Abilene Christian College, and Harding College. He preached his first sermon at the age of 19 in Farmersville, Texas. At the age of 21, he began full time work and for the next twelve years preached for churches in Gilmer, Terrell, Ennis, Temple and Gladewater, Texas. In December of 1943 he accepted the position of Superintendent of Boles Home and remained in that work until ill health forced his retirement in 1970. Brother Oler made a large contribution in time and energy to the development of the operation of Children’s Homes. He saw this phase of Christianity grow from several small homes to many in every section of the country.

After his retirement, he moved to Dallas and was presently serving the White Rock congregation as an elder. The first marriage ceremony to be performed at Boles Home was that of Thurman Gayle Oler and Miss Mary Kelly on August 17, 1931. Four children were born to this union and countless hundreds of other children have felt the love and concern that they had for their own. Surviving him are his wife, Mary, of Dallas; two sons, Gayle Edward Oler of Dallas, Paul Oler of Palo Alton, Calif.; two daughters, Mrs. Jack Felmet of Beaverton, Ore., and Mrs. Dick Blythe of Stephenville, Texas; nine grandchildren and one brother, Garth Oler of Houston, Texas. The brotherhood has lost a great and good man.
- Jimmy Wood.

Gospel Advocate, November 1, 1973, page 706.

Directions To The Grave of Gayle Oler

T.G. Oler is buried in the Laurel Land Cemetery in Dallas, Texas. Just south of Dallas on East I-35 take the Laureland Exit 420. and travel east. From the exit you should be able to see the cemetery as it is adjacent to the east side of the freeway. See Cemetery Map Here.

32°40'24.7"N 96°48'49.0"W
or D.d. 32.673518, -96.813604

Rich Berdan Standing At The Grave Of Gayle Oler

Gayle - June 17, 1910-Oct. 5, 1973
Mary - Feb. 8, 1910 - Mar. 15, 2005
Parents Of Gayle, Mary, Paul, Sarah
Hundreds of Children Through Boles Home

June 17, 1910-Oct. 5, 1973

Special Thanks

Special Thanks - A very special thanks goes to my good friend, Rich Berdan. In January, 2010, my wife, Jenny and I were out in the D-FW area for the Fort Worth Lectures. We stayed with our dear friends Rich and Barb. One morning Rich and I set out to locate graves of Gospel Preachers. Much thanks to Rich for helping me find this and other graves.

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