I figured if I stood on tiptoe and reached really, really high, I could carve my dad’s initials up where adults would see them on the corner of our garage.
Free Methodist preachers all seemed to go by initials. My preacher dad was known as W.R. Parks, and everyone who shook his hand could then call him, “Dub‑Yar.” My preacher grandfathers were known as G.B. Ingram and B.R. Parks. I rarely knew the given names of preachers in those generations — only their initials.
It seemed like an all-male club. People used given names for my grandmothers and my mother: Alice Parks, Elma Ingram, Mildred Parks.
I asked the “Growing up Free Methodist” group on Facebook about our ancestors’ initials:
- Karen Lewan — J. C. Hecocks; L. W. Gibbs; F. E. Butcher.
- Joy Shewan — I remember E. O. Smith, Sr., and E. J. Cook.
- Kendell Lockwood — C J Anderson.
- Pam Beeman — E.J. Beeman, my favorite!
- Belva Johnson Post — Rev. K.R. Bertholf
- Deborah Price Horton — E.W. Price & P.W. Price
- Sally Buckta Harvey — J. D. Harvey, my husband’s grandfather
- Sharon Hastings — L.J. Crist, my pastor in Indianapolis
- Debbie Hurd Myers — My dad was Rev. C.D. Hurd
- Mrs. Geo McKay — E.E. Smith in San Jose California
- Nancy Ragatz — E.C. Snyder, my Dad; J.J. Zahniser, my maternal grandfather
- Vianne Dowley Satterfield — R.C. Morell, my grandpa had “circuits” in the Southern Michigan Conference.
- Mim Carne — also easier for the conference to see the pastors more like employees rather than people.
- Brian C. Lockwood — V. J. Anderson, East Michigan Conference
In conference business, dad was referred to as “H. C.”. Fellow pastors and friends called him Harold. People of our generation go by nicknames. I have been Bob from day 1.[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Doug Oscarson — My dad, Rev. C.W. Oscarson. ” class=””]
Dad was pastor and Superintendent in the Iowa Conference until his retirement in 1982.[/wc_accordion_section][wc_accordion_section title=”Lois Caswell Rolfe — My dad, W.R. Caswell” class=””]East Michigan Conference. My father was one of the sweetest, kindness and caring men you could ever know..He was proud to be a member of the conference and served as treasurer many years. I still can see him walking across the grounds carrying his trusty brief case. He has been in Heaven many years. I still miss him, but will see him again someday. No he was never called Dub-yar[/wc_accordion_section][wc_accordion_section title=”Rick Miner — My grandfather, B.N. Miner” class=””]My grandfather, B.N. Miner, was named Burdette Newton, and I would guess most would prefer to be called by initials if given those names. To everyone he was B.N. except his younger sister, Lucy who called him Newt whenever she was around. To most all he was some revered person. To her, just a big brother. [/wc_accordion_section][wc_accordion_section title=”Philip Eccles — My great grandfather, W.W. Eccles. ” class=””]I had understood that it had to do with pastors not showing vanity and kept people from being too close and familiar with you. My great grandfather was W.W. Eccles.” He was the Director for Education in the McKinley Administration (a Buckeye), and was a Superintendent of several Indian Reservations, including the Southern Ute (Meds Verde, CO), Navajo, Oglala Sioux and Blackfeet Crow. He was not a Christian. His eldest son was my grandfather, William Gail Eccles, going by Gail at church, and Bill at work at Westinghouse in Mansfield, OH. He never went by, or was known by his initials, even though he was on Ohio Conference MEG and placement boards, and was a delegate to General Conference. He built many cabins on the Ohio Conference Campgrounds, and lived about 4 houses down from the grounds. [/wc_accordion_section][wc_accordion_section title=”Brad Medel — My great grandfather went by Rev. J.A. Fletcher ” class=””]
My great grandfather went by Rev. J.A. Fletcher and to this day no one has discovered what the “A.” stood for although family lore says he through the the initial in to honour Canada’s first prime minister. J.A.’s brother Rev. Tobias Layman Fletcher went by T.L. and my grandpa Rev. John Wesley Fletcher often was known as J.W. Fletcher. I can think of many more relatives, such as Rev. J.W. Haley, who were mostly known by their initials as well.[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Paul Britton — L. J. Lindsay” class=””] Our pastor, and a former district superintendent, L. J. Lindsay. When I was in college at RWC in the early 1970s, I bought L.J. Lindsey’s car from his widow. It was a 1967 Rambler, and it had been modified so that the gas pedal on the left. Because of his wooden right leg, Rev. Lindsay needed to use his left foot for driving. [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Wayne Lawton” class=””]
by Wayne Lawton
I was really amused by the pronunciation DUB YAR, but that’s just the way W. R. sounds.
Grandfather and his brothers
I don’t know if my Grandfather and his brothers were referred to by their intials or not – and their generations are gone so I can’t ask anyone. I think Bishop Arthur DeFrance Zahniser was often referred to as A. D. — I’ve actually heard some who knew him say that. But my Grandfather was Ralph Allison Zahniser, and I think people spoke of him by his first name or Brother Ralph Zahniser.
Maybe some of my cousins could answer regarding Jacob Jay Zahniser (I think people always added the Jay when calling his first name), Edmund Smith Zahniser might have been called Brother E. S. Zahniser.
And for sure Archibald Howard McElrath Zahniser was known by his initials AHM.[/wc_accordion_section] [/wc_accordion]
Not just Free Methodists
Was it a Free Methodist thing? Started by B.T. Roberts? No, says my good Baptist wife, Vickie: Baptist preachers went by initials, too.
Plus, Vickie reminds me, that generation knew the authors J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Never mind what I might do to my parents if they had hung “Clive Staples” on me, C.S. might feel the same about “David Warner.” Sally Buckta Harvey mentioned A.W. Tozer.
Presidents and silos and history books. Oh my!
Becky Stephens calls my attention to USA presidents FDR, JFK, and LBJ. And now I remember those blue A.O. Smith silos filled with chopped corn and alfalfa to feed the cows. Martha L Phillips said to check the general culture at the time: The history books did it this way.
So back there in Spring Arbor, standing behind the Lord house, W.R.P. seemed like the right ID for our garage. But when Dad saw my improvement, he said, “Don’t carve on the house or the garage.”