Del Delker Passes Away
Voice of Prophecy singer Del Delker passed peacefully to her rest on January 31, 2018, in Porterville, California, at the age of 93. For six decades, whether over the airwaves, in a church, or at an evangelistic meeting, her strong contralto voice unabashedly shared Christ’s love with rapt audiences around the world. Her more than 40 Christ-centered adult and children’s albums are still enjoyed worldwide, and it is estimated she sang in 15 different languages during thousands of performances.
Del Delker (born Ardella V. Delker) came into this world on October 21, 1924 in the small Midwestern town of Java, South Dakota. At an early age, Del’s father left the family, leaving her mother, Martha, to care for Del and her brother, Stanley. In 1931, as the Great Depression deepened, her mother, with $59 in her purse, decided to move to California along with her two sisters and brother-in-law. Their money ran out in Yakima, Washington, where they got jobs in a fruit cannery until they could earn enough money to continue their trip to California. They eventually settled in Oakland.
Delker attended an Adventist school during grades 5-8, then after graduating from high school, got a job at a bus station. A friend told her about a place he’d discovered in Oakland called the Quiet Hour, and she started attending services there. Although her mother was a baptized Seventh-day Adventist, Delker was not yet a member, but she was impressed by the genuine friendliness of J. L. Tucker and his staff.
One evening, when Tucker preached about heaven, he concluded by saying, “I want to be there, don’t you? I want to see Jesus. I want to live with Him for all eternity, don’t you?”
Delker looked back on that sermon about heaven as the time when she gave her heart to the Lord. In a few months, she made her decision to be baptized and join the church.
Delker began using her musical talents to sing on the Quiet Hour broadcasts. Within a few weeks of being baptized, she was asked to sing at a camp meeting held in Lodi, about 70 miles east of Oakland. Delker continued to sing for the Quiet Hour broadcasts while working for the bus company and saving money for college.
One day, Voice of Prophecy called to ask if she was interested in joining their staff. She said no. A second and third call resulted in a similar response. But a fourth call led her to wonder whether God was leading her on a different path.
After praying and seeking the counsel of friends, she decided to walk through the door God had opened for her. One of her first jobs was working with H.M.J. Richards, the father of the Voice of Prophecy’s founder, H.M.S. Richards, Sr. For several years, she worked in several clerical positions at VOP, while occasionally singing on the broadcasts and going out on weekend appointments with the VOP team.
After five years working at the Voice of Prophecy full-time, Delker went to college—one year at Emmanuel Missionary College (now Andrews University), and four years at La Sierra College (now La Sierra University). While at La Sierra, she spent summers and weekends performing with the Voice of Prophecy.
In 1982, when the music department of the Voice of Prophecy was disbanded, Delker was asked to stay on, though she was in need of an accompanist. Fortunately, God had one waiting in the wings.
Hugh Martin was a composer and songwriter whose music and lyrics have been performed in Broadway musicals and Hollywood films.
In 1960, at the height of his career, he found himself in a small hospital chapel in England after suffering a nervous breakdown. He promised God that if he recovered, he would use his talents to honor Him. A few years later, back in the United States, Martin happened across a Voice of Prophecy broadcast. He later wrote to Delker: “I listened [to the Voice of Prophecy] for nine years. . . . your voice captivated me, and I remember thinking, ‘If only I could be her accompanist.’”
In 1979, Martin was in the hospital for some tests, and he found himself sharing a room with a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, William Lester. As their conversations followed more spiritual topics, Martin and Lester began studying the Bible together and Martin was baptized.
Martin moved to Thousand Oaks, California, to be close to the Voice of Prophecy in case his services were needed. In 1982, Delker approached him about being her accompanist. Over the next four summers, they performed together in several places around the country. Martin went on to write updated lyrics for his Christmas standard, and Delker recorded the new version: “Have Yourself a Blessed Little Christmas.”
After spending most of her life in Southern California, Delker moved to California’s Central Valley and enjoyed a fairly active retirement. Her goal in life was to spread the good news about Jesus, and she will continue to do so through her music. She passed away peacefully with that hope in mind.
Read the extended life sketch for Del Delker at NADAdventist.org.
By Voice of Prophecy Staff
Voice of Prophecy staff extends a big thank you to Stephen Chavez for content from his 2009 Adventist Review article on Delker titled “I Know He Watches Me.” Additional thanks to Phil Draper, Ken Wade, and Delker’s nephew and niece, Dean and Irene Delker.