Warren set to speak for Founders’ Day

By Anna Zetterberg
Assist. Managing Editor

Tuesday could be your last chance to soak up the wisdom of a man who has had more impact on your life than you may realize.

Dr. Donald E. Warren, one of Palm Beach Atlantic University’s founders, will address the PBA community at the Founders’ Day chapel in the Greene Complex tomorrow at 11 a.m.

At 83 years old, Warren said it would probably be his last time addressing the public, saying there is a time to walk away and for new people to step in.

Dr. Donald and Bebe Warren, courtesy of Becky Peeling

He will share his wisdom about God’s calling in the past and future for students who believe they are being called and those that don’t think they are called.

Warren and his wife Bebe have been active in West Palm Beach since they first moved here in 1956.

Warren had a cardiology practice, became chief of medicine at St. Mary’s Hospital and served on staff at Good Samaritan Hospital.

He became the first member of the board of directors for the Florida Heart Association and later its president.

“My plate was full, or so I thought. God disagreed,” Warren said in his book “Miracles and Wonders.”

In 1963, Dr. Jess Moody, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach, asked Warren to help him start a Christian college.

“I think the call from God came when I saw a study by the president of [Florida State University] that the lower side of Florida was the fastest growing part of the U.S. and also the most unchurched part of the U.S.,” Warren said.

As U.S. college campuses were shaken by unrest during the Vietnam War, PBA’s founders sought to open a college that would serve as a haven in South Florida.

“We now are really at a moral decline in America very similar to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire and other empires,” Warren said. “I think a Christian college has a chance to produce moral leaders of their communities and lay leaders of their churches.”

He served as chairman of the board of trustees and continued to do so until 2006.

Warren worked to balance his schedule between his cardiology practice and his work for the PBA board of trustees.

“It was extremely difficult,” Warren said. “I’m very organized. It was very hard doing two at one time.”

PBA’s enrollment has quickly grown from 90 to over 3,000 in 42 years, and Warren gives all the credit to God.

“If it glorifies me, I’m a failure.” Warren said. “If it glorifies God, I’m a success.”

Bebe has also been “a very vital part of it. She’s very gracious and everybody likes her,” Warren said. “

In addition to helping start PBA’s annual Women of Distinction luncheon, it was Bebe who encouraged her husband to write down PBA’s history.

Warren made a habit of recording miracles and decided to include many of them in his book “Miracles and Wonders.”

“Miracles do actually supply a lot of the history of the school,” Warren said.

One miracle in the founding of PBA was obtaining the finances necessary to open the school.

While a practicing cardiologist, Warren set aside time to give over 1,100 campus tours to potential donors.

“I just showed it to them,” Warren said. “I’m not a fundraiser. I’m a storyteller and I can tell the story pretty well of why we need this kind of college. I never asked for specific amounts. Just told them what was needed and what it cost and God raised a ton of money through me.”

“I believe that PBAU was his ‘magnificent obsession’ and he has brought hundreds of friends and donors to the campus to share the dream of a truly Christian university,” said former PBA President Dr. David W. Clark of Warren’s accomplishments.

In 2007, PBA named its library after Warren in celebration of his work for the school.

“I thought it was awesome,” Warren said of entering the finished library for the first time. “I think the library is the finest college library I’ve ever seen … I think the Warren Library advances the college a great deal.”

Warren’s impact extends beyond PBA. In 1999, he was named one of the Palm Beach Post’s “100 People Who Change the Way We Live.”

Warren has witnessed enormous growth at PBA, from its humble beginnings to today.

“I think we stuck to the course we charted,” Warren said.

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