Dear Multnomah Family,
As many of you know by now, Dr. Willard Aldrich, Multnomah’s second president, passed into the presence of the Lord last Friday, November 27, at 3:00 am. The Lord was gracious in allowing him to pass away peacefully, under hospice care and surrounded by his family. He would have been 101 years old on January 4, 2010.
Friend and Founder
Dr. Willard was a close friend of Dr. John Mitchell, Multnomah’s founder, nearly all his life. He was a member of the first meeting on Valentine’s Day, 1936, that met to discuss—and decide—to launch a School of the Bible to meet the spiritual needs in the Northwest for training men and women in the Word of God. He was the school’s first registrar, and served on the board of trustees from 1936 through his retirement from the board in 2004. That’s a tenure of 68 years! It is a tribute to him that he was always an encouragement to me as I tried to fill the office he held for 35 years.
2nd President, Lasting Legacy
But by far his greatest and lasting legacy was his leadership of Multnomah as its second president. It was during his presidency that Multnomah moved to its current campus on Glisan Street, formerly the Oregon Trade School for the Blind (PDF, pg 5) , on acreage surrounded by nursery farms. The old cafeteria was renovated under his watch, and Memorial Dorm, Bradley Hall, the Dirks Prayer Chapel, and the Lytle Gymnasium were added to the campus during his presidency. Perhaps the project closest to his heart, though, was the A-Frame, patterned after a smaller version he built on his own property above Camas, Washington.
He also worked to secure Multnomah’s accreditation with ABHE, to pioneer the Grad Certificate program, to develop many of the majors , and to launch two masters’ programs (the Master of Arts in Biblical Studies and the Master of Sacred Ministry) which would later become part of the seminary. And, he coined Multnomah’s current motto, “If it’s Bible you want, then you want Multnomah.”
He taught systematic theology as a member of the faculty well into the 1980s, authored several books, published The Doorstep Evangel, which students would pass out on outreach day, and had a special place in his heart for the nation of Israel and Jewish evangelism. He and Doris were parents of nine children, many of whom were, or currently are, in vocational ministry. However, I cannot verify the rumor that he, Dr. Ted Bradley, and Dr. Roger Congdon competed for the largest family on faculty (Dr. Congdon would have won with 13!).
With Dr. Willard’s death, the last of the founders passes from this earth. But his memory, his legacy, and his impact on Multnomah and theological education will always remain.
You are invited to his memorial service on December 12, 2009 at 2:00 pm. It will be held at Bethel Community Church in Washougal, Washington.
Daniel R. Lockwood
PS - If you'd like to attend the memorial service, please let the church know or comment on this blog - if there are a lot of people they may need to move the service to a larger facility.