Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands.
His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Dr. Willard Aldrich celebrated his 100th birthday this year, a well-spent and fruit-laden century of life. Born January 4, 1909, in Tacoma, Washington, his illustrious career began with a summer job as an ice-cream maker for Mt. Rainier National Park. That skill made him the friend of a dozen or so black bears who also loved ice cream. Since that time, he’s maintained his love of ice cream, but graduated to bigger and better opportunities and forged friendships with countless men and women as passionate about God’s work and Word as he is.
As a youth, he and his brothers Roy and Forest attended the youth group led by Dr. John Mitchell, who remained a close friend and mentor for over 45 years. Dr. Aldrich was also a classmate of Dr. John Walvoord, Dallas Seminary’s second president, at both Wheaton College and Dallas Seminary.
After graduating from DTS with honors, with both ThM and PhD degrees, Dr. Aldrich helped establish Multnomah School of the Bible where he served as professor of theology and the school’s first registrar. Although it had it’s beginning in a mortuary, Multnomah University and Seminary now occupies a beautiful campus in east Portland.
In Multnomah’s first year, Doris Coffin, invited to serve as dean of women, became Mrs. Willard Aldrich, to the delight of the Mitchells, with whom Willard lived. Dr. Mitchell officiated at their wedding. As the college grew, so did the Aldrich clan, and before long it consisted of nine children, all who eventually attended Multnomah.
The family bought a large farmhouse on eight acres east of Vancouver, Washington, and called it Aldrich Acres. It provided not only a hub of hospitality, but also an opportunity to learn skills in horticulture and animal husbandry as they all tended to its large garden, orchard, and small assortment of livestock.
Dr. Aldrich’s ministry as pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church of Vancouver, Washington, was expanding, as was his writing ministry with The Doorstep Evangel, a four-page leaflet distributed by churches to homes. So, in 1940, he resigned his position as registrar to devote more time to the pastorate and to writing yet still maintained his ties to the school, serving as a trustee and part-time professor of theology and Christian Education.
In 1943, at age 34, Willard Aldrich became the youngest college president in the United States, and the second president of Multnomah. He served in that capacity for 35 years, and as a faculty member for 40. Both the school and the students flourished under his calm, godly leadership.
Over a period of 37 years, Dr. Aldrich produced 444 editions of The Doorstep Evangel, estimating that over fifteen million copies brought the good news of Christ to multitudes of neighborhoods. Doris began a monthly column in the Doorstep Evangelical chronicling the challenges and blessings of raising nine children. This led to an expanding ministry as a popular speaker at women’s events. Tragically, however, when the Aldriches’ youngest child was eight, on her way to speak at a women’s conference, Doris was involved in an automobile accident that took her life. The family was heartbroken, but they also allowed the tragedy to draw them closer to each other and the Lord.
Doris’s niece Mildred had been in Multnomah’s first graduating class as well, and was well-loved by all the Aldrich children. So, in the year following Doris’s death, when Willard asked his children if they would like to have “Mimi” as their new mother, they enthusiastically agreed. Gifted in hospitality and creativity, she complemented his ministry and readily embraced the Aldrich children and the Multnomah family as her own. She and Willard were married for over 46 years, until her death in 2007.
His nine children all love and serve Christ: his four sons all graduated from seminary and have spent their lives in ministry; three of his daughters married men in ministry; and his other two daughters and their husbands actively serve Christ in their churches. He not only has 26 biological grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren, but has been a father and grandfather figure to a host of others.
His son Jon describes him as consistently wise, kind, and selfless, a marvelous father and grandfather. His daughter-in-law Cindy, married to Tad, said he could usually be found in his kitchen, sitting by the fireplace, reading his Bible, a habit of primary importance to him. Describing him as an “amazing man,” she attributes his longevity to his healthy lifestyle and hints that his daily scoop of Tillamook ice cream might also be a contributing factor!
The mission of Dallas Theological Seminary is to
glorify God by equipping godly servant-leaders
for the proclamation of His Word and the
building up of the body of Christ worldwide.