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Willis Dick and Eleanor Dick and family.

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

Dick, Willis Gentry (1913–2013)

By Alfred E. Labadisos, and Remwil R. Tornalejo

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Alfred E. Labadisos, M.A. in religion with emphasis on New Testament (Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies), was a missionary member of the 1000 Missionary Movement, Silang, Cavite, from 2006-2008 and a missionary teacher at Chuuk Seventh-day Adventist School, Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia, from 2013-2015. After his missionary term ended, he went to Thailand and worked as a human resource-generalist at MediaKids Academy, Pathum Thani, Thailand.  He is married to Ferndelle Leegh H. Barret.

Remwil R. Tornalejo is an associate professor in the Historical-Theological department of the International Institute of Advanced Studies Seminary (AIIAS). Tornalejo has a B.A. in theology from Mountain View College, Valencia, Philippines, and M.P.S., M.Div., and M.Th. degrees from AIIAS. He had served as a pastor, Literature Ministry Seminary dean and instructor at the South Philippine Union Conference. He had served as chair of the theology department of the South Philippine Adventist College. Tornalejo completed his D.Theol. from Theological Union (ATESEA). He is married to Marilou Manatad. They have four children.

First Published: November 16, 2020

Willis Gentry Dick was a missionary doctor who served as director of several medical institutions in the Philippines.

Early Life

Willis Gentry Dick was born March 17, 1913, in Madison, Tennessee, to Arthur Clarence Dick and Altie Wardell Dick.1 Willis had four other siblings, all boys; Avery Varner, a missionary to China and the Philippines, Marvin Edgar, Clyde, and Elwin Keith.2 Dick grew up in La Harpe, Kansas. He was baptized at Enterprise Academy, Kansas, at age 16, in April 1929 by Elder Bellough.3

Education and Marriage

Dick attended classes at Enterprise Academy from 1928 to 1932.4 He attended Union College 1932-1933. From 1933 to 1936 he studied at Madison College, and attended Loma Linda University School of Medicine 1936-1940,5 graduating with his medical degree in 1941.6 He took up his residency in Greybull, Wyoming.7

Dick married Eleanor Jessie Sutton, on August 26, 1936, in Nashville, Tennessee.8 Eleanor was the daughter of Charles B. Sutton, then president of the British Honduras Mission, and Dottie Wilson Sutton.9 Eleanor Jessie was born October 2, 1911, in Denver, Colorado. She attended Oak Park Academy 1926-1930, Union College 1932-1933, and Madison College 1933-1936, 10 where she earned a degree in Nursing.11 She worked as a nurse while Dick attended medical school.12

Willis and Eleanor had three children. Glenn Gentry was born May 19, 1937, at Loma Linda. Dorothy Ann was born November 1, 1941 in Cody, Wyoming.13 Lora Joyce was born July 16, 1944, at Parsons Kansas. Lora Joyce died in a car accident near Nimes, France, on June 2, 1965.14

Career and Ministry

Dick served as a medical intern at Boulder, Colorado Sanitarium and Hospital 1940-1941,15 then Paradise Sanitarium and Hospital in San Diego, California.16 On May 29, 1947, the General Conference Committee voted and approved Dick to connect with the China Division for service with the medical institution in Mukden, Manchuria.17 On January 1, 1948, the family boarded the S. S. General Gordon, arrived in Shanghai, China, January 19, 1948.18 He worked at Shanghai Sanitarium as Assistant Medical Director, but was transferred to the Far Eastern Division (now Southern-Asia Pacific Division) in September 1949 due to the unstable political situation in China.19

In 1950 Dick was appointed medical director of Manila Sanitarium and Hospital.20 Together with Dr. William Campbell Richli, he initiated the sanitarium’s internship training program and was approved by the board of education of the Philippine government.21

Dr. Dick simultaneously served as the medical secretary of Philippine Union Mission. He was the first medical doctor to visit the western area of Mountain Province, where approximately 400 mountain people of the Bontoc and Tingian tribes received medical attention. 22 On January 1, 1951, when Philippine Union Mission was divided into two union missions, Dick was appointed medical secretary of the newly established North Philippine Union Mission.23 In 1953, the Dick family returned to the United States.24

On February 18, 1960, the General Conference Committee called Dick to serve as the medical director of Penang Sanitarium and Hospital, in Malaysia,25 an assignment that began the following year.26 After a furlough in in 1965, he was appointed to serve as medical director of the newly opened Bacolod Sanitarium and Hospital (now Bacolod Adventist Medical Center, BAMC) in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.27 Only an hour after arriving in the Philippines to serve their new mission field, Willis and Eleanor received the tragic news that their daughter was killed in a car accident.28

Dick was ordained to the gospel ministry during the first biennial session of the Central Philippine Union Mission, on January 10-15, 1966.29 Alongside his hospital work, in 1970 he also served as medical secretary of the mission.30 In 1971 he was called to serve as the medical director of Iligan Sanitarium and Hospital in Mindanao (now Adventist Medical Center, Iligan).31

Later Life

At the age of 63 Willis Gentry Dick retired from the denomination service. On April 30, 1976, Dick and his family permanently returned to the United States,32 having served the Far Eastern Division territory for twenty years as a medical missionary. Willis was officially retired from denominational service as per General Conference action on April 1, 1978.33 The Dicks settled in Kansas, where Willis set up medical practice until 1994, then moved to Bakersfield, California.34 Eleonor died August 26, 2006 at the age of 95, at their home in Bakersfield, California.35 Willis Gentry Dick died on December 9, 2013 at the age of 100 in Bakersfield, California.36

Legacy and Contribution

Willis Gentry Dick is remembered as a dedicated and hard-working missionary to the Far East. His twenty years of service speak volumes to his commitment to the medical ministry. Dick is also recognized as perhaps one of the earliest Adventist medical doctors who spoke and wrote against abortion and the laws that allow it. He called on the Church to “take seriously the responsibility to protect and save life.”37

Sources

Armstrong, V. T. “Two Unions Organized in the Philippines.” ARH, June 14, 1951.

Cortez, Irene. “Family Reunion in the Orient.” Central Union Reaper, January 3, 1967.

Dahlsten, N. O. “Report of the Northeast China Union.” China Division Reporter, March 1948.

Dick, Avery V. “Medical Secretary Itinerates.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, October 1950.

Dick, W.G. “A Look at Abortion.” ARH, May 13, 1971.

Edwin, Andrew B. “Medical Missionary Work at Masla, Mountain Province.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, November 1852.

Elliot, H. T. “Recent Missionary Departures.” ARH, January 29, 1948.

“Far Eastern Division.” ARH, December 14, 1950.

“From Home Base to Front Line.” ARH, June 3, 1971.

Gayares, Hector V. “Bacolod Has New Medical Director.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, September 1971.

General Conference Committee Minutes, February 18, 1960.

General Conference Committee Minutes, June 10, 1976.

General Conference Committee Minutes, May 29, 1947.

Hagen, M. E. “Doctors in Wyoming.” Central Union Reaper, November 11, 1941.

https://www.bakersfieldfunerals.com/obits/obituary.php?id=608698.

IDE Appointee File, Dick, Willis Gentry General Conference Archives. Accessed April 21, 2020.

“In Remembrance.” ARH, September 3, 1964.

“In Remembrance.” ARH, August 5, 1965.

Iola Register, Iola, Kansas, September 11, 1970, 2. Accessed April 22, 2020. (https://www.geni.com/people/private/3828616).

Lim, Winston E. “Far Eastern Division.” ARH, April 23, 1970.

Lim, Winston E. “Site for Samar Hospital.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, April 1970.

Madison Survey and Alumni News, October-December 1965. Accessed April 28, 2020.

http://centerforadventistresearch.org/madison/wp-content/uploads/b16700661_s0047000419651000c.pdf.

“News from Here and There.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 1961.

“News from Here and There.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, September 1961.

“Obituaries.” Central Union Reaper, August 4, 1964.

Personal Service Record, Dick, Willis Gentry. Southern-Asia Pacific Division Archives. Accessed October 15, 2018.

Notes

  1. Personal Service Record, Dick Willis Gentry, Southern-Asia Pacific Division Archives. Accessed October 15, 2018.

  2. See “Deaths and Funerals,” the Iola Register, Iola, Kansas, September 11, 1970, 2. Accessed April 22, 2020. (https://www.geni.com/people/private/3828616.

  3. IDE Appointee File, Dick, Willis Gentry General Conference Archives. Accessed April 21, 2020.

  4. Ibid.

  5. Ibid.

  6. “From Home Base to Front Line,” ARH, June 3, 1971, 31. Cf. Appointee File.

  7. M. E. Hagen, “Doctors in Wyoming,” Central Union Reaper, November 11, 1941, 4.

  8. Madison Survey and Alumni News, October-December 1965, 5. http://centerforadventistresearch.org/madison/wp-content/uploads/b16700661_s0047000419651000c.pdf. Accessed April 28, 2020.

  9. “In Remembrance,” ARH, September 3, 1964, 24; “Obituaries,” Central Union Reaper, August 4, 1964, 11; Arthur E. Sutton, “Necrology,” Inter-American Messenger, September 1964, 12.

  10. Personal Service Record, 1.

  11. “From Home Base to Front Line,”ARH, June 3, 1971, 31.

  12. Madison Survey and Alumni News, October-December 1965, 5.

  13. Personal Service Record, Dick, Willis Gentry.

  14. “In Remembrance,” ARH, August 5, 1965, 24.

  15. IDE Appointee File, Dick, Willis Gentry.

  16. H. T. Elliot, “Recent Missionary Departures,” ARH, January 29, 1948, 24.

  17. General Conference Committee Minutes, May 29, 1947, 573.

  18. Elliot, “Recent Missionary Departures”; N. O. Dahlsten, “Report of the Northeast China Union,” China Division Reporter, March 1948, 16.

  19. Personal Service Record, Dick, Willis Gentry.

  20. Raymond H. Woolsey, Flying Doctors (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1972), 44; C. P. Sorensen, “Life Sketch of Lora Dick,” Far Easter Division Outlook, July 1965, 3.

  21. Elias J. Umali, “Seventh-day Absentees,” Youth’s Instructor, December 29, 1953, 22.

  22. A. V. Dick, “Medical Secretary Itinerates,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, October 1950, 6; Andrew B. Edwin, “Medical Missionary Work at Masla, Mountain Province,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, November 1852, 8; “Far Eastern Division,” ARH, December 14, 1950, 20.

  23. V. T. Armstrong, “Two Unions Organized in the Philippines,” ARH, June 14, 1951, 16; “Report of the Nominating Committee,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, June 1951, 18.

  24. Sorensen, “Life Sketch of Lora Dick,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, June 1965, 3.

  25. General Conference Committee Minutes, February 18, 1960, 526.

  26. “News from Here and There” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 1961, 16; cf. “News from Here and There” Far Eastern Division Outlook, September 1961, 16; (no author) “News Notes” The Messenger, November-December 1961, 8.

  27. D. A. Roth, “Far Eastern Division,” ARH, January 12, 1967, 21; Irene Cortez, “Family Reunion in the Orient,” Central Union Reaper, January 3, 1967, 10, 11.

  28. “Dick’s Return to Mission Field Under Sad Circumstances.” Madison Survey and Alumni News, October-December 1965, 3, accessed April 28, 2020, http://centerforadventistresearch.org/madison/wp-content/uploads/b16700661_s0047000419651000c.pdf.

  29. L. L. Quirante, “First Biennial Session- Central Philippine Union,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, July 1966, 13.

  30. W. E. Lim, “Site for Samar Hospital,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, April 1970, 15-16; Winston Lim, “Far Eastern Division,” ARH, April 23, 1970, 16.

  31. Hector V. Gayares, “Bacolod Has New Medical Director,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, September 1971, 17.

  32. General Conference Committee Minutes, June 10, 1976, 76-182.

  33. See “GC Minutes 1978 Retirement.”
    https://www.dropbox.com/home/Dick%2C%20Willis%20Gentry?preview=GC+Minutes+1978+Retirement.pdf. Accessed April 27, 2020.

  34. Madison Survey and Alumni News, October-December 1965, 5.

  35. Ibid.

  36. “Willis Gentry Dick,” obituary, Bakersfield Funeral Home, https://www.bakersfieldfunerals.com/obits/obituary.php?id=608698.

  37. W. G. Dick, “A Look at Abortion,” ARH, May 13, 1971, 11.

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Labadisos, Alfred E., Remwil R. Tornalejo. "Dick, Willis Gentry (1913–2013)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. November 16, 2020. Accessed May 24, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BAW2.

Labadisos, Alfred E., Remwil R. Tornalejo. "Dick, Willis Gentry (1913–2013)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. November 16, 2020. Date of access May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BAW2.

Labadisos, Alfred E., Remwil R. Tornalejo (2020, November 16). Dick, Willis Gentry (1913–2013). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BAW2.