DURHAM — Ted Stone, the recovered drug addict turned Baptist minister known for his cross-country walks to preach against drugs and promote the Gospel, died in the midst of another footsore crusade.
Four weeks after the Durham preacher started his fourth long trek to tell his story of overcoming drug addiction through the power of faith, Stone died Sunday in Nashville on his way to a speaking engagement. He was 72.
Stone achieved fame for his highly publicized walks, which began in 1996. But behind this prominence was a deeply generous man who was driven to share his story and his faith with others.
Philip Barber, a protege who became one of Stone's closest friends, said his mentor gave him hope when Barber's drug addiction made life unbearable. He said he remembers Stone canceling his speaking engagements to come to his rescue as Barber lay on the floor of his east Dallas apartment, overdosed on drugs. Stone sat beside him, crying out for the Lord to save the boy. Barber is now a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.
As a former addict who spent four years in jail on attempted murder charges after shooting a convenience store clerk during a robbery, Stone was driven to save people still living the life he left behind, Barber said.
"He had a passion for reaching out to people that the world had given up on," Barber said.
Relatives say Stone's zeal for spreading the Gospel made it hard for him to stay in one place for an extended period. While they say they missed him while he was criss-crossing the nation, they admired and respected his dedication to his cause.
A graduate of Wake Forest University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Stone was a loving father who was generous to everyone, said daughter Carole Doll, 44. When she was a child, he once got on his hands and knees to feed a hamburger to a stray cat, she said.
"He was just a giant of a man," she said.
In addition to his preaching tours, Stone also wrote four books and made several runs for Congress. He was also active in the Southern Baptist community, sitting on the board of trustees at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
"Ted was the type of guy that when he decided to do something, he did it with his might," said the Rev. Frank Zedick, Stone's former pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Durham.
When Stone wrote Philip Barber a letter asking him to join the preacher on his second cross-country trek, he said, "If we make it, praise God. If we don't, at least we died trying."
Stone is survived by his wife, Anne Fuller Stone, three daughters and five grandchildren.
The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Clements Funeral Home in Durham. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Grace Baptist Church, and burial will follow at Woodlawn Memorial Park.
Staff writer Eric Bishop can be reached at 812-3769 or firstname.lastname@example.org.