Athens Christian School founder to be remembered as a ‘gracious’ servant

Buhl Cummings, a Pennsylvania farmboy and World War II veteran who founded Athens Christian School more than 50 years ago, died Wednesday evening at his home in Athens after a brief illness.

Cummings, who was surrounded by his family when he died, was 93. He was preceded in death by his wife Lois, who died in August of 2020.

He was remembered as a community leader, visionary, missionary, educator and coach who had a profound influence on many families in and around the Athens area.

“He was probably the most remarkable person I’ve ever known,” said Steve Cummings, who succeeded his father as head of school at Athens Christian. “He was so gifted in so many different areas, but was also one of the most humble and gracious people I’ve ever known. His whole life was about serving other people and building them up, which is in contrast to so much of what we see in our society now.”

“Lois and Buhl Cummings were great contributors through Athens Christian to so many children and their families in the Athens area,” said Robert Chambers, who served as headmaster at Athens Academy for 30 years and was good friends with the Cummings family. “I’m sorry about his passing but I’m so pleased he led a wonderful life and contributed to so many people.”

Buhl Cummings, whose three children – Steve, Tim and Susan (Beacham) – all work at Athens Christian, owned the Athens Bible Book Store downtown on Lumpkin Street and served as pastor of Athens Bible Mission before he and his wife founded Athens Christian. His son Tim remembered the circumstances that led to the establishment of the school, which opened in 1970 on Milledge Avenue.

“He ran a really successful business in Athens for years,” said Tim Cummings, who in addition to teaching and coaching at the school also serves as athletic director. “People were concerned about the court decisions that took the Bible and prayer out of public schools.

“He was PTA president at Chase Street (Elementary School) and a big believer in public education. But when the Bible was taken out, he really got fired up. People would come in the store and say, ‘We need a Christian school in Athens.’ My parents were both educators, but he didn’t know if he was supposed to do it.”

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