Picture taken during General Conference held in Takoma Park, MD. Front row: A. G. Daniells, O. A. Olsen, G. A. Irwin; Second row: W. A. Spicer, L. T. Nicola, W. A. Colcord, L. A. Hoopes; Third row: H. E. Rogers.

Photo courtesy of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Archives.

Colcord, Willard Allan (1860–1935)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: August 30, 2020

Willard Allan Colcord was an editor and religious liberty advocate.

Early Life

Willard Allan Colcord was born on December 8, 1860, at Coleta, Illinois, to Ivory and Charlotte (Fraser) Colcord. His siblings were Irena Loretta (b.1859), Ivory Celia (b.1869), Bertha Viola (b.1871), Milton (b.1873, d.1873), Angeline (b.1874), and Edith Marion (b.1877).1 His paternal grandmother traced her lineage to the Pilgrim Fathers. His father was a farmer who became treasurer of the Illinois Conference, 1859-1877. Willard said of his father that he was “generous beyond his ability,” one who came to regard the ownership of a house or land of little importance in view of the imminence of Christ’s return.2 Willard’s early years were, therefore, austere. He attended Rockford Academy and advanced to Battle Creek College to complete his formal education.3

In Jefferson, Iowa, Willard married Anna Letitia Guise on September 28, 1882.4 At the time Willard was not a member of the Seventh-day Adventist church, despite his upbringing, but soon after their marriage they became members of the Grand Junction Iowa church.5

Denominational Service

Willard began his ministry in 1886 at Des Moines, Iowa,6 and later transferred within the Iowa Conference to the town of Atlantic.7 He was recognized as a man having literary abilities, prompting his appointment to editorial work at the Review and Herald Publishing Company, Battle Creek, Michigan, 1889 through 1893.8 Part of his work involved the chairmanship of the Year Book Committee.9 In his role as a contributing editor he demonstrated a special interest in religious liberty issues, publishing a number of articles on the topic,10 some in a combative style.11 The subject was topical due to realities such as the Paris Sunday Congress,12 persecution of Sunday workers in Tennessee,13 and the Blair bills under discussion in the United States Congress.14 In 1889, when Willard first published his articles, the Adventist church had inaugurated the National Religious Liberty Association. At its second annual meeting, 1890, Willard was elected to be their Recording Secretary.15

In 1893 Willard was appointed to work in Australia. Prior to his departure from Battle Creek he was ordained to the gospel ministry.16 He and his family arrived in Melbourne, Australia, in late 1893.17 His first speaking appointment was a series of lectures about the principles of religious liberty, addressed to a Canvassers’ Institute held at the Australasian Bible School, St Kilda, suburban Melbourne.18 Willard was elected as one of three on the Editorial Committee of the Bible Echo.19 He was one of five on the Book Committee for the Australasian Union Conference and was General Field Secretary for the Religious Liberty Department. Anna was placed on the short-lived Committee for Primary Education20 and served as a deaconess at the North Fitzroy church, which they attended regularly.

Willard changed roles in mid-1899, being elected vice-president of the New South Wales Conference at that time.21 Two years later, in mid-1901, he was elected to a similar position in the Queensland Conference.22 He remained there for twelve months before returning to America. It was a stormy passage across the Pacific Ocean, the ship’s engines failing twice before repairs were made while drifting on the high seas.

Back in America Willard initially assisted in the work of home missions conducted by literature evangelism.23 It was not long, however, before he was back in his more familiar role as an exponent of religious liberty. He was elected to be among eight members of the Religious Liberty Department,24 later becoming secretary of the General Conference Religious Liberty Bureau.25 His final role was to serve as book editor at the Review and Herald Publishing Association.26

A Step Away and Return

The last mention of Willard in the ministerial directory of the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook was in 1914. Elder William Prescott explained later that Willard lost faith in the denomination and discontinued association with the church community, only to regret the move and seek re-baptism and full fellowship again. During his final few years Willard did not enjoy good health and was dependent on nursing care. He passed away in Washington, D.C., on November 4, 1935. Anna passed away on May 28, 1950. A service for her was conducted in the funeral home and she was laid to rest in the George Washington Cemetery, Adelphi, Maryland. Two adult children had predeceased her: Charles Herbert (b.1893) and Clarence Guise (b.1898). Two children survived their parents: Clara Louise (b.1888) and Glenn Albert (b.1901).27

Sources

“Anna Letitia Colcord.” Find A Grave Memorial, 2021. Retrieved from https://findagrave.com/memorial/17595578/anna-letitia-colcord.

“A stormy and unpleasant voyage…” Union Conference Record, September 1, 1902.

"A telegram received just as we go…” Bible Echo, December 15, 1893.

Ballingall, A[lexander]. “Report of the North Fitzroy Church of S.D. Adventists.” Bible Echo, January 24, 1898.

Colcord, W[illard] A. “1890 Year Book.” ARH, November 26, 1889.

Colcord, W[illard] A. “A Correspondence.” ARH, November 5, 1889.

Colcord, W[illard] A. “A Letter to Congressmen.” ARH, April 19, 1906.

Colcord, W[illard] A. “A Little Mixed.” ARH, July 16, 1889.

Colcord, W[illard] A. “Encouraging Outlook in the Central Union.” ARH, May 19, 1903.

Colcord, W[illard] A. “Ivory Glenn Colcord.” ARH, December 1, 1921.

Colcord, W[illard] A. “Too Insignificant.” ARH, March 12, 1889.

C[orliss], J[ohn] O. “The Extra and Its Mission.” ARH, Extra, December 24, 1889.

Daniells, A[rthur] G. “Australasian Union Conference,” Union Conference Record, January/February 1898.

Eldridge, C. “The Second Annual Session of the Religious Liberty Association.” ARH, December 16, 1890.

General Conference Committee Minutes, 1893. Retrieved from https://documents.adventistarchives.org/GCC/GCC1893.pdf.

Masthead. Bible Echo, September 10, 1894.

“New South Wales Conference.” Union Conference Record, July 31, 1899.

Prescott, W[illiam] W. “Willard Allan Colcord.” ARH, January 2, 1936.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Battle Creek, Michigan: Review and Herald Publishing Company, 1888-1894.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1904-1914.

S[mith] L.A. “Persecutions for Sunday Labor in Tennessee.” ARH, November 19, 1889.

Teasdale, George. “Queensland Conference.” Union Conference Record, November 1, 1901.

“The Canvassers’ Institute, which has been…” Bible Echo, January 1, 1894.

Vuilleumier, John. “The Paris Sunday Congress.” ARH, November 19, 1889.

“Willard Allan Colcord.” FamilySearch.org. Intellectual Reserve, 2021. Retrieved from https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/LTDR-9MZ.

Notes

  1. “Willard Allan Colcord,” FamilySearch.org. Intellectual Reserve, 2021, accessed January 8, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/LTDR-9MZ.

  2. W[illard] A. Colcord, “Ivory Glenn Colcord,” ARH, December 1, 1921, 22.

  3. W[illiam] W. Prescott, “Willard Allan Colcord,” ARH, January 2, 1936, 21.

  4. “Willard Allan Colcord,” FamilySearch.org. Intellectual Reserve, 2021, accessed January 8, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/LTDR-9MZ.

  5. W[illiam] W. Prescott, “Willard Allan Colcord,” ARH, January 2, 1936, 21.

  6. Ibid.

  7. “Iowa,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Battle Creek, Michigan: Review and Herald Publishing House, 1888), 4.

  8. E.g., “Workers’ Directory,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Battle Creek, Michigan: Review and Herald Publishing Company, 1889), 13.

  9. W[illard] A. Colcord, “1890 Year Book,” ARH, November 26, 1889, 752.

  10. E.g., W[illard] A. Colcord, “Too Insignificant,” ARH, March 12, 1889, 162; W[illard] A. Colcord, “A Little Mixed,” ARH, July 16, 1889, 451.

  11. W[illard] A. Colcord, “A Correspondence,” ARH, November 5, 1889, 691.

  12. John Vuilleumier, “The Paris Sunday Congress,” ARH, November 19, 1889, 727.

  13. L.A. S[mith], “Persecutions for Sunday Labor in Tennessee,” ARH, November 19, 1889, 736.

  14. J[ohn] O. C[orliss], “The Extra and Its Mission,” ARH, Extra, December 24, 1889, 1.

  15. C. Eldridge, “The Second Annual Session of the National Religious Liberty Association,” ARH, December 16, 1890, 779-781.

  16. General Conference Committee Minutes, Fall Session, October 10, 1893, accessed February 21, 2021, https://documents.adventistarchives.org/GCC/GCC1893.pdf.

  17. “A telegram received just as we go…” Bible Echo, December 15, 1893, 400.

  18. “The Canvassers’ Institute, which has been…” Bible Echo, January 1, 1894, 8.

  19. Masthead, Bible Echo, September 10, 1894, [281].

  20. A[rthur] G. Daniells, “Australasian Union Conference,” Union Conference Record, January/February 1898, 1-3.

  21. “New South Wales Conference,” Union Conference Record, July 31, 1899, 16-17.

  22. George Teasdale, “Queensland Conference,” Union Conference Record, November 1, 1901, 12.

  23. W[illard] A. Colcord, “Encouraging Work in the Central Union,” ARH, May 19, 1903, 20.

  24. “Religious Liberty Department,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1904), 12.

  25. W[illard] A. Colcord, “A Letter to Congressmen,” ARH, April 19, 1906, 20.

  26. W[illiam] W. Prescott, “Willard Allan Colcord,” ARH, January 2, 1936, 21.

  27. “Anna Letitia Colcord,” Find A Grave Memorial, 2021, accessed February 2, 2021, https://findagrave.com/memorial/175905578/anna-letitia-colcord.

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Hook, Milton. "Colcord, Willard Allan (1860–1935)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. August 30, 2020. Accessed December 01, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=495F.

Hook, Milton. "Colcord, Willard Allan (1860–1935)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. August 30, 2020. Date of access December 01, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=495F.

Hook, Milton (2020, August 30). Colcord, Willard Allan (1860–1935). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved December 01, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=495F.