A College Park pastor is marking a very special Thanksgiving this year.
Pastor Richard E. Tottress, PhD, who turns 100 on Nov. 25, still continues to drive himself as a volunteer to a local food bank, says his wife, Mattie Duncan Tottress.
“Christianity should lead to the demonstration of just treatment of all men,” Tottress said. “The individual should be dealt with as an individual. Character, not race or color, is Heaven’s requirement.”
Born in Newby, Creek County, Oklahoma, Tottress is the oldest of 18 children. His grandfather and father were owners of some large farms in Texas and Oklahoma.
After finishing high school with honors in 1937, Tottress moved to San Francisco to attend Pacific Union College, a highly regarded Adventist College, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theology.
Tottress was ordained as a minister in 1951 and pastored in several churches throughout Texas. He also served as a civilian chaplain for military personnel stationed at Camp Barkley in Abilene.
Tottress then served as pastor for several churches in Oklahoma, Arkansas, North and South Carolina and Georgia. He began his weekly radio broadcast, “Your Bible Speaks,” while serving as pastor for four churches in South and North Carolina.
After serving as pastor of Oakwood College Church from 1963 to 1979, Tottress came to Atlanta as co-pastor of Berean Seven Day Adventist Church. He also served as the first pastor of College Park SDA Church, which later became Mount Olive SDA Church. He also continued his weekly “Your Bible Speaks” radio broadcasts.
Tottress received his MA and PhD in 1981 from Beverly Hills University in California. He has been active in civic and community affairs, serving on the board of directors with the March of Dimes, Crusade for Voters, Urban Renewal Group, NAACP, and local Temperance Society.
After retiring, Tottress continued his weekly “Your Bible Speaks” radio evangelism and served as guest pastor in several other Georgia and Alabama churches. He also continues to volunteer at the Berean Church Food Pantry. He is currently writing his autobiography and publishing hundreds of poems he has written over the years, one of which can be found here:
“If you can listen to the breeze-blown meadow grass,
If you can view the patience of the opening bud
Or watch the reverence of the closing petal,
And interpret the farewell of the fading flow’r,
Truth will e’er preach life’s course to thee.”