Apr. 10, 1931 - Nov. 27, 2012
The Rev. Alton L. Childers, 81, of Brawley, formerly of El Centro, passed away peacefully on November 28, 2012, after a brief illness. At the time of his passing Al was surrounded by family and close friends. Al was born on April 10, 1931 in Beckham County, Oklahoma to William C. Childers and Mary Ethel Childers. He was the third of his parent's four children. In 1934 Al and his family moved to El Centro, where he attended Harding Elementary School, Wilson Junior High School and Central Union High School. As an 8th grader he met a freshman at Central Union High School named Geraldine "Geri" Morris, this was the beginning of a love story that would last 64 years until Geri's death in March 2010. On August 11, 1947 after almost 2 years of courtship Al and Geri were married in Yuma, Arizona. They had three children Michael "Mike" Childers, born in 1951; William "Bill" Childers, born in 1955; and Sherry Childers, born in 1960. Al was one of the few people blessed with the opportunity to find and share true love twice in his life. After losing his wife Geri, Al met and fell in love with Beverly Taylor, of Brawley. They were married on February 23, 2011. Beverly brought a joy and passion back to Al's life that he was not sure he would be able to find again. Al and Beverly were able to spend twenty-one (21) wonderful months together, traveling, laughing, spending time with family, going to Spartan football games, and most importantly showing those around them the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. They exemplified to others that no matter what your age you can live a full and happy life, even after extraordinary loss. Al graduated from Central Union High School in 1950. At Central Al was a standout athlete; he was a three (3) year varsity letterman in both track and football. It was on the football field where Al truly made his mark. He was the team's captain; the starting fullback, starting middle linebacker, kicker and punter. During his senior season he scored more points than anyone else in the league and was selected to be first team all-league on both offense and defense. He was proud to have played in the third, fourth, and fifth Bell Games and was quick to remind his friends in Brawley that he brought home the Bell his senior year. In recognition of his outstanding football career he was inducted into the Imperial Valley Football Coach's Hall of Fame in 2003. In 1952, Al accepted a full scholarship to play football at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, during his freshman year he earned a starting spot on the varsity roster. In 1953, despite his promising football career and scholarship, Al felt an undeniable calling to enter the ministry. After serious prayer and deep reflection Al and Geri decided to leave his scholarship behind to enroll in Southern California Bible College, now known as Vanguard University. Al attended Bible College from 1953 to 1957. While at Vanguard Al once again served as their football team's captain. In 1954, Al became the pastor of a church in Huntington Beach where he preached many Sunday sermons with a black eye from Saturday's football game. In 2010, Al was honored by the Vanguard Alumni Association with their Distinguished Service Award, for his lifetime of service to others. After Al and his family returned home to El Centro he became the senior chaplain at the Imperial County Jail, on a volunteer basis. He served in that capacity for almost twenty (20) years. During that time he helped countless inmates find Christ and turn their lives around. In 1991, Al, his wife Geri, and their son Rev. Bill Childers founded the Good News Mission. Because of Al's vision and his family's dedication the Mission was able to provide food and clothes to over 500 families a week for over thirteen (13) years, in total tens of thousands of families received assistance from the Good News Mission. In 1993, after a hurricane destroyed the homes of many of Mexicali's poorest citizens Al developed a bi-national coalition and procured the donation of thirteen (13) truckloads of building materials. These materials were used to re-build one hundred (100) two (2) room homes and several clinics in the most devastated areas of Mexicali. Al was honored by the governments on both sides of the border for his work. After closing the Good News Mission, Al continued to minister to people and help others however he could. He dedicated his life to serving his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and to showing God's love and compassion to our community's prisoners and poor. He did not strive for fame or fortune, his ambition was to help others, and in that regard he was successful beyond measure. Al was preceded in death by his wife, Geri Childers; his son, Rev. William D. Childers; his father, William C. Childers; his mother, Mary Ethel Childers and his sister, Brenda G. Childers. Al is survived by his wife, Beverly Taylor Childers; his son, Mike Childers and his wife Cathy; his daughter, Sherry Childers; his grandsons, Brock Childers, Ryan Childers and his wife Allison, and Bronson Childers; his granddaughters, Brittany Johnson and her husband Nels, and Shauna Diez and her husband Justin Diez; as well as his brother, Carroll O. Childers and his sister, Norma Angeline Hampton and 11 great-grandchildren. A viewing will be held Tuesday, December 4th from 6 to 9 p.m. at Hems Brothers Mortuary in El Centro and a funeral service will be held at First Assembly of God in El Centro at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, December 5th.