His Early Years
James Michael “Mike” Dale was born on November 22, 1950, to Pauline and James Dale. Mike grew up in Long Beach, California, where he graduated from high school with a university football scholarship. However, Mike’s parents had recently become Seventh-day Adventists, so instead of using the scholarship, Mike decided to attend Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) in Keene, Texas. He had relatives living in Keene, and he would get a Christian education.
His School Years
Uncle Sam interrupted Mike’s education with a stint in the military serving his country, where he became a Respiratory Therapist. Heading back to SWAU he majored in Pre-Med. By this time a beautiful young lady, Linda Gillham, was attending SWAU after completing four years at Ozark Adventist Academy, in Gentry, Arkansas, and the Lord brought the two of them together. One year later they were married in the Gentry Seventh-day Adventist church. The wedding was Mike’s first introduction to Gentry and to Ozark Adventist Academy.
Years of Service
Mike spent the next 26 years working either as a Science teacher or Principal in the Texas public school system, being awarded Teacher of the Year three times. During this time, he also earned his Master’s in Education with emphasis in school law. Mike loved teaching and made learning fun for his students. He was involved in many extracurricular activities during his career including: National Honor Society, Key Club, Health Occupation Association, football coach and was also involved in planning curriculum for the district. He won the Texarkana Wilbur Award for Community Leadership and was on the Texas committee for writing some of the standardized tests. Mike also became involved in working for the church teaching Primary, Junior, and Teen Sabbath Schools, working with Pathfinders, and working at Camp Yorktown Bay several summers as Outpost Coordinator, Activities Director, or Camp Director. It was at Camp Yorktown Bay that Mike re-dedicated his life to Christ (Dale, 2015).
Years at Ozark Adventist Academy
The Dales became part of the Ozark Adventist Academy (OAA) family in July 2006, with Mike serving initially as Boy’s Dean and Science teacher. Two years later, and just two weeks before the start of the new school year in August of 2008, the conference president, Elder Stephen Orian, received a call from Mr. Perry Pollman, the OAA academy principal, who said he would be leaving OAA so that he could move to Colorado and tend to the needs of his father who was in serious declining health. Two weeks before the start of a new school year is not the time you want to begin a search for a new academy principal, but looking back it is very easy to see that God had already brought a new principal onto the campus to take Mr. Pollman’s place. Elder Orian called on Mr. Dale a couple days later at the Boys’ Dorm and asked him if he would be willing to step into the job of the Academy Principal. As they say, the rest is history. The leadership Mr. Dale provided then, and over the next 12 years as Principal, Development Director, and Recruiter, was what OAA needed. God blessed abundantly in countless ways Mike’s leadership and the impact he was able to have on the lives of the many students who made their way through this academy (Orian, 2020). In the spring of 2020, Mike was awarded the Excellence in Leadership award, the first to be given in the Southwestern Union.
His Final Days
In early December 2020, Mike tested positive for Covid-19 and ended up in the hospital. On December 20, 2020, at 70 years old, Mike passed away due to COVID-19 complications. To his wife, Linda, of 43 years, he was life itself. To his three daughters, he was a fun and caring dad, who loved them dearly (Dale, 2020). Recognized as a friend of students, a progressive administrator, and a treasured friend, Mike considered it a privilege and joy to spend his life in service to God and dedication to his family, to young people, and to Christian education.
Dale, Linda. (2015, May 13). Commissioning Biography.
Ibid. (2021, Jan. 12). Eulogy of Mike Dale.
Orian, Stephen. (2021, Jan. 13). Memorial Service.
“U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: Liberty-Eylau High School; Year: 1995