My Father’s Legacy

16 Jun


 Judy Wills



 Since this is Father’s Day, I would like to tell you a bit about my father.  He was born in 1892.  He was 20 years older than my mother.

Daddy’s father was a circuit preacher, going from place to place in Louisiana and Texas.  He fathered 13 children.  Most remained as farmers or farmers wives.  However, several left the farm for other occupations.  Uncle Ed moved to Shreveport, LA, and owned a typewriter store.  Uncle Emory, the youngest of the 13 children, was on his way to being a church-related leader, when he was murdered on Christmas Day, 1931.  He was 23 years old.  As the story goes, he was coaching a youth basketball team.  His team had played a rival team and won.  The other team was not happy about it.  On that Christmas Day, Emory was on his way to see his fiancé, when he was set upon by the other team and beaten to death.  I didn’t learn these details until about 2000 – my father and grandmother had always told the story that he was in a horrific car wreck, and he died.

As a youth, Daddy enjoyed playing basketball.  I remember him bragging about what a great left-hook-shot he had, and how much he enjoyed the game.As I was growing 2up, he always enjoyed watching professional and college football on TV.  The Green Bay Packers were the team to beat during that day.  And on New Year’s Day, he would have four different college Bowl games going at once – a small TV on top of the large TV, and a radio in two different rooms of the house with different games on.  Used to drive my mother crazy.

My father attended Louisiana 3College.  His studies were interrupted by World War I.  He refused to carry a weapon, so they placed him in the medical corps.  He was in France, I know, and stayed there for a while after the war, studying at Toulouse University in Toulouse, France.  It was founded in 122

He graduated with a B.M. in Music from Baylor University, Waco, Texas, in 1924.  He was in the very first graduating class in music from B.U. – and there were only three members of that graduating class.


Baylor University Music Program Class of 1924

He was president of the Baptist Student Union on that campus.  He was also one of the original “Invincibles” – a group of young people that went to different states/cities in the summers and worked with Sunday Schools and Vaca5tion Bible Schools.

I know that he went to Baptist Bible Institute (B.B.I., founded 1917), which later became New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

He was the very first paid, full-time Minister of Education in the Southern Baptist Convention.  He was the Texas Associate Sunday School Secretary from 1927 until 1945.  At that point, we moved from Dallas to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Daddy became the New Mexico Sunday School Secretary until 1961, when he retired.  He died April 7, 1967, just one month away from my parent’s 30th anniversary in May.

f you have heard of the Southern Baptist Convention’s conference 6centers in Ridgecrest, NC, and Glorieta, NM, I am proud to say that my father had a hand in getting Glorieta established.  He was one of those that said “we need to have an encampment here in the west.”  Glorieta has a very special place in my heart, especially since my Dad was part of that.

He was very gentle man.  I never heard him speak a bad word about 7anyone.  He always looked for the good in people.  He loved being outdoors and went deer hunting every season.  We ate a lot of venison, and loved it.  The deer in NM ate a lot of pine nuts and good stuff, so the meat was not “gamey” at all, but very flavorful, much like beef to us.  He and mother both hunted sometimes, as did Daddy and my brother.

I have a picture of him and my brother each with a deer on the car.8

I remember one year they each got a deer, and later Daddy got an elk.  We ate really well that year.

9One thing about him – if he hadn’t bagged his deer before the weekend, he would have his own worship service out in the woods.  Someone asked him one time:  “you mean, if it was Sunday and an 8-point buck strolled by, you wouldn’t shoot him?”  Daddy’s reply was that he never even loaded his rifle on Sundays.  He was a very dedicated man.

Being a farm boy, he never got that out of his system.  He tried to grow a small garden in our back yard in Albuquerque, but he was gone so much that the garden usually died out.  One thing he did manage to care for was a huge peach tree in our back yard.  He would faithfully wrap the tree in cheesecloth every Spring, to keep the10 birds and bugs out of the peaches.  He was very successful with that tree, and we used to have peaches that were about 4″ in diameter and the sweetest I’ve ever eaten.  Mother would make peach jam, peach preserves, peach pie, home-made fresh-churned peach ice cream.

He was an incredible man, and I am proud to be his daughter.

2 Responses to “My Father’s Legacy”

  1. oldthingsrnew June 16, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    Your father impacted so many lives. It is sad that fathers today are portrayed as clueless and ineffective, someone to laugh at.


  2. Louise Gib son June 16, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    What a remarkable man! Judy, you truly honor your father with your kind words and generous praise. God bless!


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