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Obituaries : David A. Hubbard; Headed Fuller Seminary


David Allan Hubbard, who made Pasadena's Fuller Theological Seminary the largest nondenominational Protestant institution in the world and served as its president for 30 of its 49 years, has died. He was 68.

Hubbard, who retired in 1993, died Friday night, apparently of a heart attack, at his home in Santa Barbara, Fuller spokeswoman Marilyn Thomsen announced Monday. She said news of Hubbard's sudden death moved her to tears and Saturday's Fuller commencement crowd to prayer.

Radio evangelist Charles E. Fuller founded the seminary with 39 students in a church in 1947. Six years later, the growing institution moved into a group of old houses in downtown Pasadena.

But it was during the long tenure of Hubbard, one of the seminary's early graduates, that the institution grew to international prominence with a campus covering more than 14 acres. During his three decades as president, enrollment burgeoned from 300 to 3,500.

Hubbard also expanded Fuller from the original theology school to include a school of psychology accredited by the American Psychological Assn. and the School of World Mission, now considered an international model for the training of missionaries.

The growth often pitted Fuller against Pasadena city planners who wanted to limit building heights and preserve older structures, including the houses on the Fuller campus.

"We have a special sense of openness to the future because we think that has something to do with God's control and not just urban planning," Hubbard told The Times in 1983 during one period of attempted expansion.

"We at Fuller were preservationists before it was a fad," he said. "But if we're in a conflict between preserving some of our past facilities and flexibility to carry out our future mission, that is clear-cut. To create a historic park in the heart of Pasadena--that may be somebody else's mission, but it's not ours."

In addition to being a growth- minded administrator, Hubbard was an ordained Baptist minister and a veteran teacher who was so popular that the seminary struggled to find classrooms large enough for all the students eager to take his classes.

Hubbard was an internationally renowned scholar on the Bible, with a doctorate in Old Testament studies from St. Andrews University in Scotland.

He wrote 36 books, including four commentaries on the Old Testament and one titled "Psalms for All Seasons." He was editor of the Word Biblical Commentary Series.

"David Hubbard was without a peer in American theological education . . . certainly the most remarkable seminary leader in this half-century in the U.S.," said Paul Pierson, who was dean of the Fuller School of World Mission during Hubbard's presidency.

A native of California, Hubbard studied at Westmont College in Santa Barbara and Fuller. He taught at Westmont before becoming Fuller's president in 1963.

Hubbard is survived by his wife, Ruth; a daughter, Mary Given; two brothers, John and Robert; a sister, Laura Smith; and two grandsons.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday in Montecito Covenant Church at 671 Cold Spring Road in Santa Barbara, which Hubbard founded,at 671 Cold Spring Road, Santa Barbara.

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