Interviewing Randall Lolley

Among the first questions a friend asked when I floated the idea of a Randall Lolley biography was, “Is Randall able to help?” In the early going, I did sit with Dr. Lolley at his memory care residence in Raleigh, interviewing him for an hour. He was himself in important ways, if not in all ways. He recalled his father’s full name, his own birthdate and wedding anniversary, and the “L.A.” (lower Alabama) location of his personal origin. To most questions, however, he supplied limited and general responses.

When his wife, Lou, arrived to escort us to lunch, she asked, “How did it go?” His response confirmed that he was indeed the Randall Lolley I remembered: “This fellow’s got more questions than a cat’s got fleas!”

Such family help as Randall himself was not able to provide, his wife and daughters did. Lou Lolley was constantly available to speak by telephone. She and Charlotte Murphy and Pam Frey spent the better part of an afternoon with me, recalling and reminiscing and filling in empty spaces in my research. Later the daughters responded to queries related primarily to their mother and to the personal and spiritual chemistry that she brought to the Randall Lolley story.

Several times Lou welcomed me into their home and into Randall’s impressive upstairs study. Owing to his health, he had been unable to spend the time there that he had intended in 2012 when they arrived at The Cypress of Raleigh, their retirement venue. Nevertheless, the artifactual and documentary record that remained there proved invaluable.

Randall’s nephew Tim Lolley, son of brother Tom and presently a pastor in Western North Carolina, lent a large notebook compiled during the denominational firestorm that engulfed Southeastern Seminary in 1987. Tim, who was completing his theological education there at the time, also provided a Lolley family genealogy that his late mother, Sydney, had researched.

. . . Above all, thanks to Dr. W. Randall Lolley for his inspiration, mentorship, and friendship through the years of our pastor-associate pastor relationship and during all times since.

This post originally appeared in the Acknowledgments of Randall Lolley: Thanks for the Memories by Steve Pressley.

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