Gary Thomas Whipple was born in Opalocka, Florida on June 22, 1929 to Harry and Mazie Whipple. His father was a Baptist minister at West Little River Baptist Church in Miami, Florida. Gary grew up with four brothers: Harry, Richard, Danny and David. Gary was the third of the five. His father died in 1943, when he was 13 years old. At 17, he quit school and moved to Philadelphia, PA to become a watchmaker. At the age of 19, he joined the Navy. On November 3, 1950 he married Nellie Hilliard. They had three children: Terry, Dianne, and Crystal.
Gary had many jobs before he became a minister. He was a Miami police officer for two years. He also worked as a truck driver for the Food Fair grocery chain while going to school to get his GED, and he eventually worked his way up to safety director of that chain. In June 1963, the Lord called Gary to preach. Saved as a child under his Dad’s ministry, Gary knew that God had a calling for his life, so he asked his brother, Rev. Richard Whipple, to baptize and ordain him into the ministry.
In August 1963, Gary and Nellie put their house up for sale on a Wednesday, and it was sold by that Sunday. Gary then took his family to the Baptist Bible Institute in Graceville, Florida where, for three years, he attended bible school. He later received his Bachelor’s degree in theology and divinity, and then his Master’s degree in theology from Luther Rice Seminary. In 1977, he received his Doctorate in philosophy and theology from Pacific Southern University.
In 45 years in the ministry, Gary was a pastor of nine churches and authored four books. He also started a tape ministry called “Lamp and Light,” which began in Elyria, Ohio in the mid 1970s and continues to be heard throughout the United States and around the world.
Gary T. Whipple passed away on October 2, 2009. He and Nellie had made their home, for the last 27 years of his life, in Winter Springs, Florida. At the time of his passing, he had three children, nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.