Multnomah Bible School founder dies at 100

From Multnomah University News

Dr. Willard M. Aldrich passed away due to natural causes on November 27, 2009. He was 100 years old, and served as President Emeritus at Multnomah University.

Dr. Aldrich founded Multnomah School of the Bible with Dr. B.B. Sutcliffe and Dr. John Mitchell in 1936. He served as Multnomah’s first registrar, and married the dean of women, Doris Coffin. They had nine children, 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.

Multnomah Leadership

Dr. Aldrich became president in 1943 at Dr. Sutcliffe’s retirement. During his service as president, Multnomah relocated to a new campus and became a degree-granting college. As 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.

“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, 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 (1931) and a Th.M. (1934) and Th.D. (1936) from Dallas Theological Seminary. He pastored a church in Washington and served on the Board of Reference for several mission societies. He wrote and published the monthly, “The Doorstep Evangel,” used in door-to-door and leaflet evangelism, authored several books, including “When God Was Taken Captive,” and was an early founder and later president of the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges.

Dr. Aldrich’s 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.

Memorial Service

A memorial service will be held at Bethel Community Church in Washougal on December 12, 2009 at 2:00 p.m.

About Multnomah

Multnomah University is a fully accredited, private, non-denominational, Christian institution of higher education, located in Portland, Oregon. Made up of an undergraduate Bible college, a biblical seminary, graduate programs, an adult degree completion program, and an online distance-learning program, Multnomah issues bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and professional certifications and endorsements.

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