William and Virginia Hilliard served in the China Division and the Far Eastern Division from 1947 to 1961.1
William “Bill” Albert Hilliard was born in Shanghai, China, on May 21, 1920, the son of William Ira and Jessie Hilliard, who went to China in 1916. Virginia Eleanor Anderson was born in Shanghai, China, on July 26, 1919, to Nils and Mayte Anderson, who went to Japan in 1913. Because Mayte’s brother, Dr. Charles Landis, was working at the hospital in Shanghai, she went there for the birth of her child, and he performed the delivery there.2
Both Bill and Virginia grew up in the Far East as children of missionaries; Bill grew up in China, and Virginia, in Japan. They met while attending Far Eastern Academy in Shanghai, and then both attended Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, United Sates of America.. They married in August 1942 in Angwin. After graduation in 1943, Bill accepted a call from the Georgia-Cumberland Conference in North America to do evangelism and pastoral work. While he was on that assignment, their daughter, Voncile, was born in 1944, and their son, William Warren, in 1946.
In 1947, they accepted a call from the General Conference to return to China, sailing from San Francisco, California, in the spring of 1947 to Shanghai, China. For the first year, they were sent to Peking (modern-day Beijing) to study the language and then, in 1948, returned to Shanghai to assist Fordis Detamore with evangelistic meetings. After the meetings were completed, they were sent to Kunming in Yunnan Province in the western part of China, where he became the Southwest China Mission president for the year 1948–1949. As the communists began to overtake China and come south, Milton Lee and Charles Cooper were sent to Kunming to assist Hilliard in evangelistic outreach. One of those baptized in this last series was Hsuen Ming Shau, a Tibetan who was married to a Chinese. Soon all the missionaries had to leave China due to the advancing Communist Army. They all gathered in Hong Kong and then were sent to new assignments.
Bill and Virginia, along with the Hsuen family, were sent to Kalimpong, India,3 to prepare to enter Tibet. However, the communists invaded Tibet also, making the plan impossible. As a result, Bill and Virginia were asked to return to Hong Kong in 1952, where he became the president of the Hong Kong Macao Mission, where he served for eight years. Their third child, Charles LaRue, was born in October 1953 in Hong Kong.
The Hilliard’s furlough in 1954/55 was spent in Takoma Park, Maryland, United States of America, where William completed an M.A. at the Seventh-day Adventist Seminary. Their fourth child, Gwendolyn, was born in Maryland in 1955.
They returned to Hong Kong and worked there until 1960, when Bill was called to Singapore. There he served as the president of the Southeast Asia Union for two years.
In 1962, he returned to the United States and served as a church pastor at various locations in Northern California, including Roseville, Placerville, and Fortuna, until he retired in 1985. He continued to serve as a stipend pastor until 2004, when he moved to Lodi.
“Division Notes.” China Division Reporter 14, no. 12 (December 1949).
Hilliard, William A. Autobiography: Life Story of William Albert Hilliard. Unpublished manuscript, 2005. Personal collection of Voncile Hilliard Young.
“Virginia Eleanor Hilliard obituary.” Lodi Sentinel, July 5, 2006.
“Where Are They?” China Division Reporter 14, no. 12 (December 1949).
“William Albert Hilliard obituary.” Lodi Sentinel, October 2, 2008.
Voncile Hilliard Young, personal knowledge as the eldest daughter of William Albert and Virginia Hilliard.↩
A substantial part of this article is based on William A. Hilliard’s Autobiography: Life Story of William Albert Hilliard (unpublished manuscript, 2005), personal collection of Voncile Hilliard Young.↩
“Where Are They?,” China Division Reporter 14, no. 12 (December 1949): 3; “Division Notes,” China Division Reporter 14, no. 12 (December 1949): 4.↩
“Virginia Eleanor Hilliard obituary,” Lodi Sentinel, July 5, 2006.↩
“William Albert Hilliard obituary,” Lodi Sentinel, October 2, 2008.↩