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F. L. Chaney

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Chaney, Frank Lawrence (1872–1963) and Bertha Shanks (1875–1955)

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 28, 2020

Frank and Bertha Chaney were missionary educators who contributed to the development of Adventist schools in Australia and New Zealand and served, in varying capacities, in the United States, the Philippines, the West Indies, and Mexico.

Early Life and Education

Frank Lawrence Chaney was born on April 7, 1872, in Wahoo, Nebraska, to Samuel and Emily (Merryman) Chaney. There were six children in the family, Albert (b. 1862), Mary (b. 1867), John (b. 1869), Frank (b. 1872) and Aurilla (b. 1881).1 Samuel Chaney was Clerk of the District Court.2 Frank attended Union College, Lincoln, Nebraska, and then proceeded to Battle Creek Sanitarium to take a short training course in nursing as preparation for overseas mission work.3

Bertha Shanks, born in Chatfield, Minnesota, also attended Union College, graduating in the class of 1896.4 She took the same course as Frank in Battle Creek, and they married in that city on April 29, 1897, with Francis M. Wilcox officiating.5 While they waited for a mission appointment they taught school in Asheville, North Carolina.6 Their first child, Albert, was born in Asheville in 1900.7

Avondale and Pukekura

Frank and Bertha were appointed to work in Australia. They arrived in time to attend the 1901 Australasian Union Conference session in the Avondale Church, Cooranbong, New South Wales.8 They spent their first eighteen months assisting in evangelism in Queensland and canvassing the book Christ’s Object Lessons in Maryborough.9 This period proved to be an interlude prior to their assignments at the Avondale School for Christian Workers where their talents were better suited.

At the Avondale school, 1903, Frank taught physiology, book-keeping and carpentry in addition to acting as preceptor. On occasion Bertha stepped in as preceptor when Frank was needed to supervise the farm work and the industrial department10 but when their second son, Donald, was born in 1905 she became preoccupied with her own domestic duties. In addition to his teaching Frank embarked on a major building project on campus. Enrolment numbers were rising rapidly so with the assistance of student labor Frank erected another dormitory for the young women. It had an attractive mansard roof that incorporated attic rooms.11 Named Preston Hall, it was dedicated in 1906 before the finishing touches were applied.12 Frank also possessed musical talent, playing the cornet in the school brass band, singing with quartets, and rendering solos on special occasions.13

Frank proved to be a very competent carpenter and teacher. For that reason, his talents were used to build a major school in New Zealand. He sailed to his appointment early in 1907 to prepare some temporary accommodation and the rest of his family followed two months later.14 The two-story building first served as classrooms and dormitories sufficient to be opened for the 1908 school year under the title Pukekura Training School, additions being made later. Frank served as principal and Bertha taught language and physiology,15 also acting as accountant later.16 They remained at Pukekura until the end of 1910.

Another call for Frank’s carpentry skills came in 1911. Permanent living quarters were needed for the relatively new mission enterprise in Papua. The Chaney family sailed north to the tropics where Frank built a mission home in Port Moresby17 and then another at Bisiatabu where headquarters were established at a cooler altitude. Bertha helped with some elementary classes for the local children and wrote excitedly of their experiences in the lush jungle among a primitive people.18

The Chaneys returned to Australia early in 1912 to resume teaching duties at the Avondale school.19 In addition to his carpentry classes Frank added a northern wing to the boy’s dormitory during 1912 and 1913.20

It was an era of upheaval at the school with an ideological struggle waging between advocates for increasing the industrial classes versus others who wanted to respond to the insistence of government authorities to raise academic levels.21 The Chaneys were torn between the two. Frank favored industrial studies but he and Bertha wanted an academic education for their growing boys. Matters reached a climax in 1915 when Bertha lost a dispute with the school board over her wage level.22 She took her sons back to America but Frank felt obliged to continue teaching at Avondale.

The year 1916 was unusual with respect to school administration. Church authorities experimented by abolishing the office of principal. Instead, a business manager was appointed and Frank acted as headmaster.23 He served out the year but hurried back to America to rejoin his family immediately after the graduation services.24

Varied Service in America and Abroad

For approximately ten years Frank and Bertha taught at Washington Missionary College, Takoma Park, Maryland (now Washington Adventist University). Bertha led in the Normal Department (teacher training). Frank was versatile, beginning as preceptor (dean) and a teacher of English literature, later as an instructor in woodwork and carpentry and, finally, working in the dual role of carpentry instructor and Bible teacher.25

In 1926 the Chaneys accepted another overseas call, this time to the Philippine Union Mission, headquartered in Manila. Frank served as secretary-treasurer26 and later as Home Missions secretary. He was ordained during this period.27 Bertha served as Sabbath School secretary.28 After five years of service in the Far East, Frank’s health deteriorated, compelling a return to the United States.

Chaney returned to the mission field in 1936, volunteering his service to the Inter-American Division on a self-supporting basis. He served as secretary-treasurer of the Jamaica Mission and subsequently as assistant treasurer of the Antillian Union Mission, Havana, Cuba.29

In 1937 Frank returned to Takoma Park where Bertha had remained as an instructor with the Home Study Institute at General Conference headquarters. The Chaneys’ marriage came under stress and they were granted a divorce on October 5, 1943.30 Surviving records provide no information on the circumstances.

Bertha Chaney continued in her position at Home Study Institute until 1944. Thereafter she taught French and Latin part-time in various settings and remained active in civic and cultural organizations. She died at her home in Takoma Park, Maryland, on May 21, 1955, at age 80. In addition to the decades of service previously described, her career was distinguished by earning a master’s degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and publication of stories in the Youth’s Instructor and other articles in denominational periodicals.31

Though well beyond retirement age, Frank Chaney pressed forward with the activity that would mark his legacy more than any other – building schools to advance Adventist mission. He devoted much of the eighth decade of his life to building and developing thirteen mission schools in the Sonora Mountains of northern Mexico during the years 1942-1951.32

After Bertha’s death Frank married Leonora Lacy Warriner.33 They resided at Loma Linda, California until early 1962 when they moved to the Crystal Springs Resort near St. Helena Sanitarium in northern California.34

Frank Chaney passed away on September 15, 1963, and was laid to rest in the Santa Rosa Memorial Park north of San Francisco.35 Leonora passed away on March 3, 1966.36

Sources

Andross, C[elian] E. “News Notes.” The Jamaica Visitor, September 1936.

Australasian Missionary College Board Minutes. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Cooranbong, New South Wales. Box 201. Document: “Australasian Missionary College Board Minutes.”

“Brethren Irwin and Chaney…” Union Conference Record, February 8, 1907.

“Brother and Sister F.L. Chaney…” Australasian Record, December 11, 1911.

“Brother Frank Chaney and wife…” Union Conference Record, September 1, 1901.

“Chaney.” FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QG2W-WRMB.

Chaney, Bertha S. “From Port Moresby to Bisiatabu, New Guinea.” Australasian Record, November 13, 1911.

Chaney, B[ertha] Shanks. “Sabbath School Conventions in the Philippines.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, February 1, 1930.

Codling, W[alter]. “The Australasian Missionary College.” Australasian Record, April 21, 1913.

“Find A Grave Index.” FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q2BB-73PK.

“Frank Lawrence Chaney.” FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/LB74-KFS.

“Frank Lawrence Chaney.” FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/sources/LB74-KFS.

“Frank L. Chaney.” ARH, November 7, 1963.

G[regory], J[ames] P. “College Notes.” Australasian Record, February 3, 1912.

Hook, Milton R. Avondale: Experiment on the Dora. Cooranbong, New South Wales: Avondale Academic Press, 1998.

Hoopes, L[ewis] A. “Educational Work in New Zealand.” Union Conference Record, February 14, 1910.

Irwin, C[harles] W. “The Educational Department.” Union Conference Record, September 7, 1908.

“Leonora Lacy (Warriner) Chaney.” Pacific Union Recorder, July 18, 1966.

“List of Delegates.” Union Conference Record, July 17, 1901.

“Monthly Summary of Australasian Canvassing Work.” Union Conference Record, April 1, 1902.

“Mrs. Bertha S. Chaney, 80, Teacher and Missionary.” Washington Evening-Star, May 23, 1955.

Nebraska, Saunders County. 1880 United States Census. Digital images. FamilySearch.org, 2020, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M8YL-D8K.

North Carolina. Buncombe County. 1900 United States Census. Digital images. FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MST5-823.

Schowe, C[harles] H. “Dedicatory Service.” Union Conference Record, October 1, 1906.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1904-1963.

“Sister Chaney with her two children…” Union Conference Record, April 1, 1907.

“Sister S.W. Carr of New Guinea…” Australasian Record, December 4, 1911.

Starr, G[eorge] B. “Graduating Exercises.” Union Conference Record, October 15, 1904.

“The Avondale School.” Union Conference Record, September 11, 1903.

“The First Annual Announcement…” Union Conference Record, January 6, 1908.

“The last mail from New Guinea…” Australasian Record, July 17, 1911.

Vital Statistics. Riverside Daily Press, October 5, 1943.

Wheeler, Mertie A. “Alumni Notes.” The Educational Messenger, June 15, 1906.

Notes

  1. “Frank Lawrence Chaney,” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2020, accessed April 4, 2020, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/LB74-KFS.

  2. 1880 United States census, Saunders County, Nebraska, digital image, “Chaney, Frank Lawrence,” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2020, accessed April 4, 2020, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M8YL-D8K.

  3. “Frank L. Chaney,” ARH, November 7, 1963, 22.

  4. “Mrs. Bertha S. Chaney, 80, Teacher and Missionary,” Washington Evening-Star, May 23, 1955, 19; Mertie A. Wheeler, “Alumni Notes,” The Educational Messenger, June 15, 1906, 2-5.

  5. “Frank Lawrence Chaney,” FamilySearch.

  6. 1990 United States census, Buncombe County, North Carolina, digital image, “Chaney, Frank Lawrence,” FamilySearch.

  7. “Frank Lawrence Chaney,” FamilySearch.

  8. “List of Delegates,” Union Conference Record, July 17, 1901, [1].

  9. “Brother Frank Chaney and wife…” Union Conference Record, September 1, 1901, 15; “Monthly Summary of Australasian Canvassing Work,” Union Conference Record, April 1, 1902, 8.

  10. “Avondale School for Christian Workers,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1904), 80; “The Avondale School,” Union Conference Record, , September 11, 1903, 12-13.

  11. C[harles] W. Irwin, “The Educational Department,” Union Conference Record, September 7, 1908.

  12. C[harles] H. Schowe, “Dedicatory Service,” Union Conference Record, October 1, 1906, 69.

  13. G[eorge] B. Starr, “Graduating Exercises,” Union Conference Record, , October 15, 1904, 6.

  14. “Brethren Irwin and Chaney…” Union Conference Record, February 8, 1907, 7; “Sister Chaney with her two children…” Union Conference Record, April 1, 1907, 7.

  15. “The First Annual Announcement…” Union Conference Record, January 6, 1908, 7.

  16. L[ewis] A. Hoopes, “Educational Work in New Zealand,” Union Conference Record, February 14, 1910, 6-7.

  17. “The last mail from New Guinea…” Australasian Record, July 17, 1911, 8.

  18. “Sister S.W. Carr of New Guinea…” Australasian Record, December 4, 1911, 8; Bertha S. Chaney, “From Port Moresby to Bisiatabu, New Guinea,” Australasian Record, November 13, 1911, 6-7.

  19. “Brother and Sister F.L. Chaney…” Australasian Record, vol. 15, no. 49, December 11, 1911, 8.

  20. J[ames] P. G[regory], “College Notes,” Australasian Record, February 3, 1912, 8; W[alter] Codling, “The Australasian Missionary College,” Australasian Record, April 21, 1913, 4-5.

  21. Milton R. Hook, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora (Cooranbong, New South Wales: Avondale Academic Press, 1998), 103-106.

  22. Australasian Missionary College Board Minutes, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Cooranbong, New South Wales. Box 201. Document: “Australasian Union Conference Board Minutes, November 25, 1915.”

  23. “Australasian Missionary College,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1916), 169.

  24. Australasian Missionary College Board Minutes, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Cooranbong, New South Wales. Box 201. Document: ”Australasian Missionary College Board Minutes, October 30, 1916.”

  25. “Washington Missionary College,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1918), 204-205; “Washington Missionary College,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1921), 172-173; “Washington Missionary College,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1923), 207-208.

  26. E.g., “Philippine Union Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1927), 173.

  27. “Philippine Union Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1931), 189.

  28. B[ertha] Shanks Chaney, “Sabbath School Conventions in the Philippines,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, February 1, 1930, 7.

  29. “Antillian Union Mission.” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1937), 135.

  30. Vital Statistics, Riverside Daily Press, October 5, 1943, 15.

  31. “Mrs. Bertha S. Chaney, 80, Teacher and Missionary.”

  32. “Frank L[awrence] Chaney,” ARH, November 7, 1963, 22.

  33. “Frank L. Chaney,” ARH, November 7, 1963, 22.

  34. “Ministerial Directory,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1960), 391; “Ministerial Directory,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1963), 455; Margaret Greene, “Hillside Happenings,” Napa Valley Register, April 5, 1962, 10.

  35. “Frank L. Chaney”; “Frank L. Chaney,“ Find A Grave Memorial 176031780,” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2020, accessed April 4, 2020, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q2BB-73PK.

  36. “Leonora Lacy (Warriner) Chaney,” Pacific Union Recorder, July 18, 1966, 6.

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Hook, Milton. "Chaney, Frank Lawrence (1872–1963) and Bertha Shanks (1875–1955)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. August 28, 2020. Accessed June 25, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=C93Z.

Hook, Milton. "Chaney, Frank Lawrence (1872–1963) and Bertha Shanks (1875–1955)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. August 28, 2020. Date of access June 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=C93Z.

Hook, Milton (2020, August 28). Chaney, Frank Lawrence (1872–1963) and Bertha Shanks (1875–1955). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=C93Z.