Institute in Basic Life Principles

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A Tribute to William Gothard, Sr.

William Whitmore Gothard, Sr.

William Whitmore Gothard, Sr.

October 17, 1905–March 17, 1994

The seven-letter word would not have attracted undue attention from most business magazine editors in 1943, but it did get the attention of the editor-in-chief of the Domestic Engineering Company. The advertisement with the seven-letter word brought him to the realization that he must make an important decision.

That editor was my father, a businessman who had worked 20 years to achieve the position of editor-in-chief. During his career, he received recognition as the president of the Chicago Business Papers Association and the vice president of the National Conference of Paper Editors, and he had accumulated many national awards for editorial excellence.

William Gothard Sr working

As a business executive

As editor-in-chief, my father was responsible for approving all ads that the magazine published and for enforcing the policy that the magazine would publish no liquor advertisements. Although the advertisement technically passed this company policy, permitting it to run would be an open door for compromise. For this reason, my father knew that his conscience would not permit him to run the advertisement with the seven-letter word.

My father knew that neither his many achievements nor his years of diligent service would deter the president of the Domestic Engineering Company from pushing for the advertisement with the seven-letter word. He tried to reason with the president: “Simply change barroom stool to restaurant stool, and we can run it.” When the president rejected his appeal, my father viewed this circumstance as God’s final confirmation that it was time to leave the business world.

Though a young boy, I was strongly impressed by my father’s willingness to walk away from his high-paying job, even though he had six children to feed and no new job in sight. I was even more amazed when the first thing he did after leaving his position was to write a large check to a missionary from Germany. He also impacted me deeply as I watched him memorize chapters of Scripture.

Soon after leaving the business world, The Gideons International asked him to serve as executive director. He retained this position for more than five years. In later years, he served as executive director of the Chicago Christian Businessmen’s Connection, director of Chicago Child Evangelism Fellowship, and chairman of the board of the Pacific Garden Mission. While with the Pacific Garden Mission, he helped to launch the widely heard radio program, “Unshackled.”

As chairman of the board of his local church, he discovered an unresolved conflict with the church’s founding organization and proposed that the church reconcile the conflict. The rest of the board hesitated because of the large cost involved, but my father offered to pay the money himself. After resolving this long-standing division, the church began to experience significant growth.

William Gothard Sr.

William Gothard Sr.

My father’s life was characterized by his willingness to proclaim and stand by the truth, whatever the cost.

On March 17, 1994, at 12:40 a.m., God called my father Home. However, the influence of his life will continue to live in my life and in the lives of the many around the world whom he motivated to dedicate themselves fully to the Lord and to the truth of His Word.

This tribute was adapted from the March 1994 issue of the IBLP Newsletter.