Industry leaders have paid tribute to longtime Christian publisher and
CBA founding member Robert L. Kregel, who died Sunday (June 24) after a brief
illness. Regarded as a pioneering giant in the Christian product
industry, the former president of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Kregel Inc.
After his father died in 1939, Kregel took over the family’s used
book business at age 20 and expanded the company into a publishing house
and bookstore chain. In 1949, he began publishing classic reprints
under the Kregel Publications name. Kregel Inc. now includes Kregel
Publications, its Spanish imprint, Editorial Portavoz, and two Kregel
Parable Christian Stores in the Grand Rapids area.
served a two-year term as CBA’s president from 1960-1962, attended the
association’s first meeting at Chicago’s LaSalle Hotel in 1950.
was “very supportive of the association forming with its dual purpose
of getting the Word of God to as many people as possible and bringing
the industry together to encourage cooperation (in order) to achieve
excellence in business and ministry,” CBA Executive Director Curtis
Riskey told Christian Retailing.
During Kregel’s term as
CBA president, the association embarked on its first international
outreach, funding the establishment of Christian stores in other
countries and partnering with Evangelical Literature Outreach to train
bookstore owners and staff abroad, Riskey said.
Kregel would be
remembered as “one of the strong shoulders that CBA and the Christian
retail industry stand on today,” Riskey added. “His unconditional love
for others, ethical standards and commitment to the Lord through his
work and evangelism exemplify what this industry is all about. His
legacy continues today as the mantle passes to his children to keep up
the good work.”
Kregel received a Gold Medallion Lifetime
Achievement Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association
(ECPA) in 1989 at the end of his three-year term of service on the
Kregel was “one of the pioneering giants in
the industry who devoted his life to communicating effectively about
Christ at a time when distribution was far less than it is today, and
there was little money in it,” ECPA President Mark Kuyper told Christian Retailing. “He was a dedicated man who built a solid business and ran it with Christian conviction and care.”
President Jim Kregel said that his father was passionate about the
Christian publishing industry. “My dad loved connecting people with
books,” he said. “He loved books, and he loved sharing them with others.
My dad’s great legacy is how he saw the best in others and tried to
A memorial service was held Thursday at Calvary Church
in Grand Rapids, Mich. Kregel is survived by five children, 14 grandchildren
and 26 great-grandchildren. His wife of 63 years, Betty, died five