William (Bill) W. Cadwallader, American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS) alumnus, passed away on February 9, 2021, at the age of 92, at Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California.
Bill was born on July 20, 1928 in Redlands, California to William W. Cadwallader Sr. and Violet Cadwallader. He grew up in a closely knit Christian home where God, Jesus Christ, and the church were commonly discussed. It was the family custom to gather around the piano before bedtime each evening and sing their favorite hymns. At the age of eleven Bill was baptized at the First Baptist Church in Santa Ana, California. During his school years he was occupied a great deal with band (saxophone), dramatics, Boy Scouts, B.Y.F., and wood working, as well as his studies.
When Bill was 18, he committed his life to full-time Christian Service. It was during his early college years at Santa Ana Jr. College and the University of Redlands that he became increasingly certain that God wanted him as a minister. Bill went on to study at Berkeley Baptist Divinity School with a view of serving in the town and country church. One summer Bill worked at the Baptist camp in Ketchum, Idaho; this broadened his vistas as he saw Baptist work in another area.
Bill met Ruth Koontz who was also studying at Berkeley Baptist Divinity School. Ruth was certain she was being called to be a foreign missionary. They were married on May 2, 1953. Bill at one time made a list of all the reasons why he could not serve as a missionary. It was the extreme concern for mission possessed by his wife that he felt the need to re-examine his own call, in relation to foreign missions. While Bill was preparing his Senior Sermon at the Divinity School, in which his thesis was that most people weren’t doing as much as was needed for the Kingdom, he decided to apply for missionary appointment. Bill wrote in his application for missionary appointment: “I think that the most important motive that I have for seeking appointment is the realization of the great difference God, through Jesus Christ, had made in my life. Because so many people in other lands have not had this experience, I feel that I should do all that I can to present Jesus Christ to them. I would like to share the riches which I possess with those who have never had the chance to partake of the riches of God.”
Bill and Ruth were appointed missionaries with ABFMS on May 24, 1954 designated to serve in Thailand. Bill was ordained in September 1954 at the First Baptist Church in Santa Ana. In October 1954 Bill and Ruth sailed for Thailand. They worked among the Chinese in Mahachai, a fishing village outside of Bangkok. This was an area that Christianity had not touched even though a Baptist church had been founded in Bangkok in 1835. Due to lack of space the Cadwalladers were not able to establish their home at Mahachai so weekend commuting became the pattern for Bill. A small chapel was opened in Mahachai and a program of witnessing begun. Through teaching, preaching, visiting and sharing, they laid the foundations to establish a church there among the fisher folk of Thailand. Over the years attendance grew and the program expanded. Bill went on to also serve as mission treasurer and helped in the training of Thai personnel to aid in the mission work. In addition, Bill taught English and conducted services in Thai, Chinese, and English.
Bill and Ruth moved their family of 6 to the United States in 1972. Along with his missionary career Bill taught high school ethics and social studies at an international school in Bangkok, worked for the American Friends Service Committee Indochina Refugee Program in Thailand (returning after their children had left home), and as Foreign Student Advisor at Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti, MI), Cornell College (Mt Vernon, IA) and Clemson University (Clemson, SC). In retirement Bill and Ruth lived at Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California. Ruth passed away in 2009.
In 2011 Bill remarried (at age 83) connecting with an old college friend from the U of Redlands, Zola (Andrus) Brown. She moved to be with him at Pilgrim Place, and passed in 2017.
Bill is survived by his four children (all born in Thailand): Beth (husband Jim Flory), Mark (wife Susan), Steven (wife Nancy) and Mary (partner Laurie Siegel). Grandchildren: Kathleen Spradlin, Zachary Cadwallader, Jeff Cadwallader, Michael Cadwallader, Stuart Cadwallader, Russell Cadwallader, Lindsay Cadwallader, and Josh Cadwallader. Great Grandchildren: Lilienne Spradlin and Justice Spradlin. He is also survived by his sister Joan Wheeler Ash, brother Phil Cadwallader, and sister-in-law Donna Cadwallader, with many nieces and nephews and their families.
Bill enjoyed people, loved rhyme and humor – always with a twinkle in his eye, had a self-effacing nature, and a very peaceful, gentle, and kind spirit. A celebration/memorial service for Bill will be held at Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California on August 21 and a recording will be available at vimeo.com/pilgrimplace.