Death of Well-Known Holyoke Minister

by Laurel | November 14th, 2011

November 14, 1902

Rev. Dr. Monson A. Willcox

Rev. Dr. Monson A. Willcox

Death of Rev. Dr. M. A. Willcox

Pastor of First Baptist Church of Holyoke Dies at His Home After Several Months Illness.

Rev. Dr. Monson A. Willcox, 61, for ten years the esteemed pastor of the Elmwood Baptist church, died at midnight Wednesday at his home in the Baptist parsonage, after several months’ illness. His sickness was at first an intestinal trouble, but his nervous system was so strained by the attack that he failed to rally. Until with a day or so it was not expected that his illness would prove immediately fatal. He was a modest man, but his discourses were often the product of more study and research than those often heard in pulpits by congregations of the size. The spirit of the man was genial, and his fine face, with its crown of white hair, attracted the attention of strangers at any gathering at which he was present, and prompted frequent inquiries as to his identity.

The Holyoke church he assumed after his health had been impaired from four arduous years of work at the state Baptist college at Kalamazoo, Mich., and was not his only work, as many papers and monographs to various periodicals bear ample witness. His interests lay more to the literary and scholastic side of his work than to the routine of parish work, though it is not to be inferred that his parish work suffered, as the growth of the church the past few years demonstrates to the contrary. His knowledge of literary events and wide reading gave added charm to a naturally graceful diction, and in conversation he was always entertaining, and at times not without a sly bit of humor of a decided individualistic stamp. The news of his death will be heard with regret not bounded by city limits, and throughout the various fields in which he had labored there will be sincere mourning that he was not spared for more years of honor and usefulness.

Monson A. Willcox was born August 12, 1941, at Afton, Chenango County, NY. Wile still very young the family removed o Jersey City, where he obtained his early education, supplemented by two years at Colgate Academy, Hamilton, NY. His college course was taken at Madison, now Colgate University, where he was graduated in 1862. The following year was spent in the study of law in New York city, and in May 1863, he was married to Sarah E. Mason of Jersey City. It was during those latter years that his mind turned toward the ministry as his life work, and the two subsequent years were spent in preparation therefore at Union and Newton theological seminaries. Following his seminary course he accepted the pastorate of the First Baptist church at Burlington, VT, being ordained there April 25, 1867. He remained in Burlington until 1881, when he accepted a call to the West Baptist Church in Oswego, NY. It was during this term that he received the degree of doctor of divinity from his alma mater. This pastorate continued for six years, when he resigned in order to accept the presidency of the state Baptist College at Kalamazoo, Mich. After four years he relinquished this work, in 1891, and spent the following year in rest at his father’s home on Long Island. Called again to active work by the First Baptist church of Holyoke, he removed there November 29, 1892, preaching his first sermon on December 4, 1892. Dr. Willcox leaves, besides his widow, three sons, Arthur M., editor of the Tramway and Railway World, London, England’ Walter R. B., architect of Burlington, Vt., and Frank G., librarian of the Holyoke Public Library; also two daughters, Romelin E., and Helen L. Willcox, the latter now pursuing studies at Mount Holyoke College. The funeral will be held this afternoon at the Elmwood Baptist Church at 3:30. The body will be taken to Burlington, VT for burial. The library will be closed from 2 to 6 this afternoon as a mark of respect for Dr. Willcox.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.

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