Roger Aker, Love In the Name of Christ director remembered

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The director of Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC) in Nacogdoches, Roger Aker, 58, has died. He was found Thursday afternoon lying in the yard of the SFA Social Work Department. For over two hours medical workers tried to revive him. Aker's apparent cause of death was a heart attack.

Aker had spent the morning moving furniture for a family in need. "He would never ask you to do anything he wouldn't do himself. He was always working hard no matter the task, Mary Anne Oglesby, a co-worker said. "He told a staff member that he was going to the doctor, but he didn't want any of the women in the office to know," Oglesby said.  "After moving the furniture he was soaked with sweat and his complexion look taupe, but we had no idea he was that sick. The only clue that he wasn't coming back was he turned his computer off, something Roger never did unless he knew he wasn't returning."

Funeral services for Aker will be Monday afternoon at 2 p.m.  at First United Methodist Church in Nacogdoches.

In his ten years as Love INC's first and only director, Aker touched the lives of hundreds. His pastoral ministry and leadership helped change a community for the better.   Just three weeks ago Aker sat in a homeless shelter mapping out his latest ministry. He was working hard on the expansion of the homeless prevention Encourager Program.  "We're going to make a journey together. And we're going to go some place," said Aker about the program.

Aker's co workers find comfort believing Aker took his final journey to a better place. "We're crying, but Roger's not. The one he served his whole life for, he's with, " Oglesby expressed.

Love In the Name of Christ serves as a clearing house for more than 20 Nacogdoches area churches. The mission is to bring together people in need and people who can help. Something Aker tirelessly accomplished. "Roger had relationships with people in all the congregations," Terry Hodge, pastor of First Christian Church said.  "(He was) really kind of a bond that pulled us together."

Aker never joined a church, but rather took turns attending churches throughout the city. Most recently, he volunteered his time as a pianist for a church that was temporarily without a music minister. "He was always giving of himself like that," said Oglesby. "He raised a daughter, put her through medical school and was taking care of his elderly mother. He never stopped," said Oglesby.

During hurricanes, Aker stood before public servants in an effort to get things done. He was the expert at organizing shelters, clothing, food and toy drives. He knew how to motivate. "We're wanting to go through the basic needs of the family and what the host has to offer," said Aker during an interview on matching hurricane evacuees with loving, open homes.

The lives Aker touched are many. He loved providing opportunities for people. "He let me know that you may have set a path for yourself, but god has your path set already," Hana Abdullah, a former Love INC intern said. "He was always encouraging you and providing opportunities for you to be the best person you could be," Angela Kirk, Encourager program coordinator said.

Aker began programs which serve the elderly, unskilled women, children and Hispanics. Most began under the Love INC umbrella, but Aker got them to a stage where they could run independently.

The legacy will continue. "Roger has left a legacy that we need to build on," Dr. J.B. Watson, Love INC board president said.  "The entire community is the beneficiary of that legacy."

Aker even served after death. He was an organ donor. A servant in the truest sense.

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