Palm Beach cardiologist and Palm Beach Atlantic University Founding Chairman Dr. Donald Warren will be remembered as a man who not only cared for the physical hearts of men and women but as a Christ follower who “understood the spiritual heart of a human being,” his former pastor, Dr. Jack Graham, said during a funeral service attended by hundreds of mourners on Monday.
|Rev. William Keith, Dr. Bryon Grohman, Dr. Lloyd Mims and the Palm Beach Atlantic University Concert Choir lead the congregation in singing "The Impossible Dream" at the close of a funeral service for the late Dr. Donald Warren on Monday.|
“He himself had a great heart for God and fulfilled the greatest commandment of all,” to love the Lord your God with all your heart, said Dr. Graham, former pastor of First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach and current pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.
Dr. Warren, who led many of America’s most influential business leaders become PBA supporters, passed away on March 31 after a brief illness. He was 86.
Returning to the sanctuary where he served as pastor for eight years, Dr. Graham offered a message of hope to the large gathering of family, friends and church members, as well as Palm Beach Atlantic trustees, alumni, administrators and students.
Dr. Graham noted that Dr. Warren and his wife, Bebe, were among those who vouched for him when he came to the church as a young pastor in 1981. He called the Warrens “the ultimate power couple, because they knew the source of real power.”
He also recalled Dr. Warren’s role as a physician, and as a churchman who laid the groundwork for the Christian university envisioned by PBA Founding President and former pastor of First Baptist Dr. Jess Moody.
Speaking directly to Dr. Moody, who was in attendance with his son, Patrick, and daughter-in-law, Amy, Dr. Graham said, “I was thinking, Dr. Moody, that God gave you the dream. You conceived it and believed it. Don achieved it.”
Dr. Graham also noted the significance of the timing of the memorial service during the days leading up to Holy Week.
He read from 1 Corinthians 15:58, a passage involving Christ’s Resurrection: “Therefore my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
“Now that is Don Warren,” Dr. Graham said. “I can’t think of an individual more steadfast, more determined, more committed to the cause of the kingdom of God, to the calling of God upon his life, and with an ability to influence others to come alongside of him in fulfilling this calling.”
Also during the service, Dr. Ken Mahanes, special advisor to the president of PBA, offered a prayer, and PBA President William M. B. Fleming, Jr., gave the benediction.
President Fleming carried with him two books: a copy of the Bible that Dr. Moody used when he called Dr. Warren help him start PBA, and a copy of “Miracles and Wonders: A Chronicle of Palm Beach Atlantic University,” written by Dr. Warren.
“May we with one mind and with one voice be encouraged by the truth contained in Scripture, and may we become storytellers and generous givers just like Don,” President Fleming said.
The service also included several musical tributes, including one of Dr. Warren’s beloved hymns, “The Old Rugged Cross,” sung by the Rev. William Keith. The Palm Beach Atlantic University Concert Choir sang another of his favorites, “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” while Anna Keith sang “I Shall Know Him” and “It Is Well With My Soul.”
Before the guests gathered for a repast that iincluded hot dogs — one of Dr. Warren’s favorite indulgences — soloists Rev. Keith, Dr. Lloyd Mims and Dr. Bryon Grohman joined the Concert Choir in closing the service with a soaring rendition of “The Impossible Dream.”
The song, from the play “Man of La Mancha,” was one that Dr. Warren embraced and that became the college’s unofficial anthem in the early years.
Patrick Moody, who portrayed the lead role in the University’s first production of “Man of La Mancha,” was moved while listening to the song he came to know so well. He said he remembers the words of encouragement Dr. Warren gave him after seeing him in the show, and in the years since.
“He was a great man who did so much good for this school,” Patrick Moody said. “We owe him so much.”
The Warrens have three adult daughters — Leigh, Julie, and Amy — and eight grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
The family has requested that memorial gifts be sent to the Bebe Warren Scholarship Fund or the Donald Warren Library Fund. Checks should be made out to Palm Beach Atlantic University with Bebe Warren Scholarship Fund or Donald Warren Library Fund in the subject line and mailed to the Development Office, Palm Beach Atlantic University, P.O. Box 24708, West Palm Beach, FL 33416-4708.