category: Faculty Emeriti - Presidents

Zeno Wall

Second President, 1930-1932

dr. zeno wall

Dr. Zeno Wall (1882-1967) was born in Mooresboro, N.C., and was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Shelby (1925-1948). He became the interim president of Gardner-Webb College on May 20, 1930, and served for two years. He served without any salary. The relationship between the college and the churches in the local Baptist associations established a portal for a series of pastors from the area to serve as president. 

Wall was one of the leaders who strongly supported the school becoming a junior college, being the one to present the resolution to the Kings Mountain Association to endorse and approve the proposed status change. He continued to voice his support of the college and to encourage the churches in the Association to support the school. 

In the spring of 1920, Wall preached his first sermon at Cliffside Baptist Church, Cliffside, N.C., where he was ordained into the ministry. In addition to serving as pastor and interim pastor of several churches, Wall served as President of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and as Superintendent of the Baptist Children’s Homes in Thomasville, N.C. He attended Mars Hill College and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He received the Doctor of Divinity degree from Mississippi College in 1917. 

During Wall’s ministry at the First Baptist Church in Shelby, N.C., the membership grew from 600 to 2,600. He realized three noteworthy objectives: first, the erection and equipping of an adequate church building with 1,000 in Sunday School; second, a great revival led by Dr. George W. Truett during which 217 people joined the church; and third, four-year status for Gardner-Webb College (which the Board of Trustees requested of the N.C. Baptist State Convention the day Wall died). Wall’s influence extended beyond the denomination and community into the halls of government. He led the inaugural prayer for two North Carolina Governors, O. Max Gardner and Clyde 

R. Hoey, both from Shelby.
 Wall authored three books: “Heartening Messages,” “Verities of the Gospel,” and “A Day for God-called Men.” 

Along with other pastors who served the college during its difficult days, Wall played a significant role in keeping the school alive. He also served on many boards and committees for the college and on the Board of Trustees from 1928-1939 and from 1941-1946. 

This great Baptist leader, who found time to give strong support to the college in many capacities, deserves great respect for his work in God’s Kingdom through the church, the college, and in all areas of life. Many remember Wall’s famous greeting, “Dearly Beloved.” He is remembered as one who was dearly beloved. 

Source: Hamrick, “The History of the First Baptist Church” 

– Lansford and Cothenia Jolley, 1993 

Revised: Noel T. Manning II, May 2022 

A group of people gathered around the historical marker for Gardner-Webb College

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