Fred Thomas Dean, 90, of Arkadelphia, Arkansas left this earth for Heaven on Saturday, March 11, 2023.
He was born to the late James and Bessie (Shown) Dean in Clarendon, Arkansas, on March 31, 1932. He was the middle child of nine children.
One month after graduating from Clarendon High School in 1950, he joined The Army. He served in The Headquarters Battery, 517th Field Artillery during the Korean War rising to the rank of Sergeant First Class. After the war, he returned to civilian life for three years before joining The Air Force and serving his country for the next fifteen years.
It was during the three-year break in military service in the mid 50’s that he met and dated the love of his life, Toliece ‘Toddie’ Ferguson. During a furlough in August of 1960, they were married and lived happily together for the next fifty-nine years. After his retirement from the Air Force in 1971, The Dean family moved to Arkadelphia so Fred could attend college. He graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in 1974. He went on to receive a master’s degree and work at Ouachita for three years after graduation. He then took a job with the U.S. Postal Service for several years, and he later worked as a bus driver for The Arkadelphia School District before retiring for good.
While stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1963, The Dean family began attending Emmanuel Baptist Church. Here, Fred gave his life to Jesus and made a profession of faith. He was later ordained as a deacon in the same church, and he continued to serve at each church he attended until he entered assisted living in 2019. He taught Sunday School for fifty years, helped with new church plants, not only in the US, but in the Philippines, and he was involved in volunteer work including Kairos Prison Ministry, nursing home ministry in Arkadelphia, Red Cross Disaster Relief and Lay Renewal Ministries.
Fred was loved deeply by his family because of the genuine unconditional love he showed each one of them. He was kind and patient and never had a negative word to say about anyone. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren would sit in his lap for hours while he read books, blew up balloons or played games with them. He had a way of calming even the most rambunctious toddler. The Dean home at 1314 Caddo Street was always a calm welcoming harbor in the storm of life and all were welcomed with open arms, at any time, to find love and rest.
He is preceded in death by his wife Toliece, two grandsons, Rusty Golden and Jordan Dean, one brother, James Dean Jr., and three sisters, Dora Hill, Edna Russell, and Delorise Dean.
Fred is survived by his three children: Rhonda Riggin, Jimmy (Cathy) Dean and Michael (Kristi) Dean; his 12 grandchildren: Charla Geddes, Tim Golden, Matthew Riggin, Christen Byrd, Andrea Dean, Ashten Plezia, Jenni Tooman, Micah Payne, McKenzie Dean, Taylor Harrison, Tessa Shaffer, Terra Moore; numerous great-grandchildren; three sisters, Connie Hodge, Joy Smith and Betty Sharp and one brother, Roy Dean.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Friday, March 17, 2023, at Ruggles Wilcox Funeral Home Chapel in Arkadelphia.
The family requests memorials be made to Ouachita Baptist University or Henderson State University.
Arrangements are entrusted to Ruggles Wilcox Funeral Home, 517 Clay Street, Arkadelphia, Arkansas 71923.
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