Adrian Burl Condit, Ceres pastor and patriarch of the Condit family of Ceres which produced a U.S. congressman, sheriff’s deputy and two county supervisors and recently a Ceres councilman, died Monday.
His death came two days after his 94th birthday. He died surrounded by family members.
Condit, who would generously weave scripture into routine conversation with a kindly, thick southern drawl, made many friends in Ceres and Stanislaus County. He officiated countless weddings and funerals and delivered decades of sermons at Village Chapel Free-Will Baptist Church.
“He had a wonderful sense of humor, and touched countless lives and will be missed by many,” lamented Della Hemick, who was baptized by Rev. Condit at the Ceres church.
The longtime pastor was honored by the Ceres Chamber of Commerce as the “Ceres Citizen of the Year” in January 2014 and in 2016 served as grand marshal of the Ceres Street Fair Parade. He participated in numerous Memorial Day services at Lakewood Cemetery and was a staunch supporter of the Modesto Gospel Mission.
“For many years, Pastor Condit kicked off our Chamber dinners with his infamous stories and prayers always ending with a resounding ‘God is good, all the time,’” said Renee Ledbetter. “Most of all, he was a kind-hearted, generous man, who always gave of his time, gave the greatest hugs and had a smile for everyone. His passing is a tremendous loss, not only for his family, but for the entire Ceres community.”
In a 2013 interview with the Ceres Courier, Pastor Condit was still pastoring in his 80s and said, “What keeps me going is the hope that I have in eternal life and the hope that I have in the coming of the Lord Jesus and the burden of my heart to see people saved.”
Adrian Condit was born Dec. 25, 1927 in Locust Grove, Oklahoma, to Dovie Condit and Leonard Webster. After his mother died in an automobile accident when he was 3, grandparents William and Pigeon Condit raised him with their children, Marion, E.B., Owen, and Erma Lee. He graduated from Locust Grove High School in 1945 in the top ten of his class. Condit played basketball during his four years of high school and won blue ribbons for FFA projects. He also worked on the family farm while growing up.
In 1943, while riding a horse named Button, Adrian rode up to the general store in Locust Grove where he met the love of his life, Velma Jean Tidwell, in 1943. One month after graduating from high school, the two married on June 3, 1945. Soon after, Adrian went to serve two years in the U.S. Navy, driving ambulances for the fleet hospital in the Samurai islands near the Philippines.
After returning home he moved his wife and baby son Burl to Tahlequah, Oklahoma where he attended Northeastern State Teacher’s College and returned to his farming roots to run a dairy farm.
During a community revival, Condit accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and in 1951 answered God’s call to the preaching ministry. He preached his first sermon on January 1, 1951 in his brother’s church.
Adrian spent his early years in the ministry, filling the pulpits in rural churches of Oklahoma, serving as an evangelist and pastoring. He organized his first church in his hometown, the First Free Will Baptist Church of Locust Grove and oversaw the building of a new church building. He went on to pastor Free Will Baptist churches in Oklahoma, Kansas and California.
When Village Chapel Free Will Baptist Church in Ceres had a need for a pastor in August 1967, Condit relocated from Tulsa, Okla. Coming with him was wife Jean and were sons Burl (born in 1946), Gary (1948), Darrell Wayne “Hoppy” (1952) and daughter Dovie (1955). When Gary entered Ceres city politics, Adrian tried talking him out of the idea, noting that politics is often a dirty business. Gary reminded his preacher father that “a lot of politicking goes on in church too.”
Beginning in 1983 Pastor Condit spent 21 years as the Memorial Medical Center senior chaplain in Ceres and Modesto where he had a front-row seat to human frailty and tragedy. He was also a teacher/trainer for candidates to the hospital chaplaincy.
Pastor Condit remained strong in his faith and remained a pillar of his family through several family crises.
After Congressman Condit lost the Democratic primary for his re-election in 2002, Adrian and Jean Condit sold their Gail Court home and followed Gary and Carolyn to Scottsdale, Ariz. Adrian and Jean returned to Ceres, moving into the Acorn Lane home that Gary and Carolyn lived in during his political career.
The Condits began worshiping at Village Chapel. Adrian had vowed, after retirement, to keep busy in a pastoral role preaching at funerals or filling pulpits “now and then” but when Pastor Marcus Minkler left in 2008, Adrian returned as pastor.
Adrian faithfully served in the ministry for over 70 years and loved his church family. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree and Honoris Causa Degree of Divinity from Sacramento Baptist College. With a missionary heart, he served over 30 years in California as clerk/treasurer for the Free Will Baptist California Mission Board.
After Jesus, his family was his biggest joy. He loved to play Wahoo and Wiffle ball, and root on his Oklahoma Sooners. His hobbies included golf, playing the guitar, and singing. He loved to watch his grandchildren and great-grandchildren play sports and perform, he almost never missed a game or show.
Mr. Condit is survived by his four children, Burl (Susan), Gary (Carolyn), Darrel Wayne “Hoppy,” and Dovie Condit Wilson; his sister, Erma Lee Rodgers; five grandchildren, Chad (Helen), Buck (Kim), Jaymes Smith (Kacey) Cadee, and Brock; 12 great-grandchildren, Channce, Couper (Morgan), Chloe, Kendall, Madison, Gary, Collin, Kenya, Ethan, Erik, Blu and Averie; and one great-great-grandchild, Lily. In 2017 Adrian lost Velma Jean Tidwell Condit, his wife of 72 years, to Parkinson’s and dementia. He was also preceded in death by his parents and siblings Marion, E.B., Owen, and half-brother Arlyn Webster.
The family will hold a private graveside ceremony at the Ceres Memorial Park. Details for a Celebration of Life will be shared once finalized.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be sent to the California Christian College 5364 E Belmont Ave, Fresno, CA 93727.