Van Tate, age 85, of Searcy has gone on to his reward. He passed away on Sunday morning at The Crossing.

He is survived by his wife, Jean Tate, and four daughters and sons-in-law, Susan Harrington (Larry), Lori Shelton (Jim), Ann Neal (Eddie) and Jill Wood (Michael), all of Searcy. He is also survived by two sisters and their husbands, Janice McCoy (Glenn) of Yorba Linda, Calif., and Jo Lynn Wilson (Wayne) of Searcy. In addition, he is survived by nine grandchildren, Sarah Rowan of Little Rock, Benjamin Smith of Searcy, Hannah Giles of Paragould, Tyler Neal of Columbus, Miss., and Niky Neal, Ashley Perry, McKenzie Reed, Hunter Harrington and Ethan Wood, all of Searcy. He is also survived by 11 great-grandchildren.

He was born on Sept. 20, 1935, to Harry and Geraldine Tate in Wesley, Ark. During World War II, he moved with his parents to California, where they helped with the war effort. Upon returning to Arkansas and graduating high school, he attended Florida College in Temple Terrace, Fla. It was there that he met the love of his life, Jean Fortenberry, whom he married and loved for the remaining 64 years of his life. From there, he attended Abilene Christian College and later earned a Master of Arts from Fuller Theological Seminary and a Ph.D in Anthropology from the University of Nairobi.

In 1965, Van and his wife moved to Kenya with children, Susan, Lori and Ann, where they served as missionaries through 1975. During their time in Kenya, their daughter, Jill, was born. In 1976, he began a career at Harding University, where he remained until his retirement. He taught sociology, anthropology, missions and Bible, and influenced another generation of missionaries who went not only to Kenya, but to other nations around the world. He and his family were also founding members of the Cloverdale Church of Christ, where he served as an elder until his health no longer allowed.

Due to COVID restrictions, a private family service will be held on Wednesday at 2 p.m. followed by a family graveside service at Gum Springs Cemetery. COVID guidelines will be followed and face coverings must be worn at all times. Live-streaming will be available.

The family would like to extend special thanks to all of the nurses and caregivers at both Southridge Village Nursing and Rehabilitation in Heber Springs and The Crossing at Riverside in Searcy. The care and compassion they provided Van during his final years are very much treasured by his family. Memorials may be made to the Van and Jean Tate Endowed Scholarship Fund at Harding University; the Alzheimer’s Association, Arkansas Chapter, P.O. Box 96011, Washington, D.C. 20090-6011, or the charity of your choice.

Arrangements entrusted to Roller Daniel Funeral Home, Searcy.

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