Dr. Willard M. Aldrich was committed to Christ and to creating a biblically focused Bible college. As a founder and president of Multnomah University, he coined the slogan, “If it’s Bible you want, then you want Multnomah.”
On November 27, 2009, Dr. Aldrich passed away due to natural causes. He was 100 years old.
A Rich History
Dr. Aldrich founded Multnomah School of the Bible with Dr. Sutcliffe and Dr. Mitchell in 1936. He served as Multnomah’s first registrar and married the dean of women, Doris Coffin. They had nine children: Jonathan, Jane, Joe, Becky, Tim, Virginia, Annette, Tad and Bobbie. All nine children graduated from Multnomah, including future Multnomah president Dr. Joseph Aldrich. After Doris died, he married Multnomah alumna Mildred “Mimi” Boukaert in 1959. Dr. Aldrich and Mimi were married 47 years until her death in 2007.
In 1940, Dr. Aldrich resigned from faculty and was absent from Multnomah for two years. He returned as an instructor in 1942 and became president in 1943 at Dr. Sutcliffe’s retirement. During his service as president, Dr. Aldrich lead Multnomah through the end of World War Two; under his guidance, Multnomah responded to the post-war enrollment boom by relocating to a new campus and renovating buildings and grounds. His efforts moved Multnomah to become one of the earliest degree-granting Bible Colleges. Multnomah’s second president, Dr. Aldrich served for 35 years until his retirement in 1978. He subsequently served on the board of trustees until his retirement in 2004 and was an Honorary Life Member.
A Tribute to Dr. Aldrich
“As the second president of Multnomah School of the Bible, Dr. Willard assumed leadership during its fragile beginnings,” Dr. Dave Funk said. “From its start during depression years, through low enrollments during World War II, the boom of materialism and the free spirit of the hippie years, Multnomah’s survival depended on a man committed to the long haul and to the vision he shared with co-founder, Dr. John G. Mitchell. As a co-founder, Dr. Aldrich shared the commitment to biblical values and ministry emphasis that characterized Multnomah’s position in the Bible college movement.
“Describing Multnomah’s emphasis he coined the slogan, ‘If it’s Bible you want, then you want Multnomah.’ Personally Dr. Willard exemplified both priorities, theological and pastoral.”
Education, Pastorship, and Authorship
Dr. Aldrich held a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College and a Th.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary. He pastored Emmanuel Baptist Church in Vancouver, Wash. and served on the Board of Reference for several mission societies. He pioneered leaflet evangelism through the monthly publication, “The Doorstep Evangel,” which brought the gospel to many people for 38 years. Dr. Aldrich was an early founder and later president of the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges. He also authored several books, including “The Battle for Your Faith,” “Grace,” “The Death of Christ” and “When God Was Taken Captive.”
Leaving a Legacy
Known for his graciousness, faithfulness, and friendliness, Dr. Aldrich was greatly loved in the Multnomah Community. He influenced many people for Christ, both at Multnomah and throughout his life. The Willard M. Aldrich Hall was dedicated in February, 2000, in his honor. Today, both North and South Aldrich Hall buildings are used as a college men’s residence hall.
A memorial will be held at Bethel Community Church in Washougal on December 12, 2009 at 2:00 p.m.