After soldiers returned from the “war to end all wars,” Prohibition brought turmoil, but the economy boomed. A seemingly indestructible country complacently stood at the threshold of the Great Depression.
And it came about in those days that Dallas Theological Seminary, first known as The Evangelical Theological College, had its birth. At the end of the first academic cycle, the first student to graduate—a young man named Roy L. Aldrich—crossed the stage to receive his degree.
Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in the last year of the nineteenth century, Aldrich saw a tour of duty with the Navy during the First World War. But that experience affected him far less than his introduction to Jesus Christ. His new path led to Texas for seminary, which gave him opportunities to serve as a pastor. Yet a passion for Christian education guided most of his career decisions.
The path of following his Lord soon led to Detroit, Michigan. Working with believers from the Christian Businessmen’s Committee of Detroit, he helped establish Detroit Bible College. The school opened its doors to students the year before World War II ended, and Dr. Aldrich steered the institution as president from its infancy for twenty-two years, after which he served as president emeritus.
His belief in the importance of Christian education compelled him to speak many times in Detroit pulpits calling people to support God’s work in scholarships. He also lived what he taught, giving whenever possible to various Christian schools, including DTS.
His motivation flowed from a great love of Scripture. Dr. Aldrich preached, wrote, and spoke, lecturing at DTS and at Moody Bible Institute’s Founders’ Week conferences. His book, Holding Fast to Grace, is still in print.
Described as easy to talk to and a gracious and knowledgeable preacher and teacher, he had a dry sense of humor and loved to fish. He was known for wearing a clip-on bow tie, even after doing so fell out of fashion. His passion for teaching the Scriptures extended to every age group, so he often brought the children to the front of the church during services for a short object lesson.
His work in the ministry continued even after his retirement and relocation to Florida. There he found a way for local people to receive training in biblical studies in conjunction with Moody’s External Studies program. Aldrich ended his days there, going to be with the Lord at age 99. His grave inscription expresses his faith:“In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11, KJV).
The Aldrich family’s past, present, and future relationship with DTS goes on. Our first graduate’s brother, Willard (ThM, 1934; ThB, 1934; ThD, 1936), helped found Multnomah Bible College, serving as its president for thirty-five years (1943–1978). Upon his retirement, his son Joseph (ThM, 1968; ThD, 1971) succeeded him as president. Other family members who passed through the halls of DTS have included Roy’s nephews Jon (ThM, 1968) and Tim Aldrich (ThM, 1971; ThD, 1975), and son-in-law Ken Schafer (ThM, 1971).
Before Roy Aldrich entered the Lord’s presence sixteen years ago, he and his second wife, Constance Crawley Aldrich, agreed to create a plan for their support of DTS to outlive them. When she passed away in 2011, their estate gift was distributed to the DTS general fund. The Aldrich family’s legacy of faith continues through their investment in the training of future Christian leaders.
It’s never too early to start planning. In addition to fulfilling your desires for your family, you may want to consider your own DTS legacy gift. Our Wills Guide is a free tool to simplify the process of gathering the information your attorney will need to prepare the appropriate documents that accomplish your goals. To request your free Wills Guide, visit dallasseminaryfoundation.org, or call Dallas Seminary Foundation at 214-887-5190.