Rufus Wells Parmele

Louisiana Conference President, 1912-1916

His Early Years

Rufus Wells Parmele was born in Mackinaw, Illinois, on October 3, 1869. He was the youngest of eleven children (Ancestry, 2010). His parents, Lucius and Merab Parmele, accepted the Seventh-day Adventist message in 1876, and in 1886 at the age of seventeen, Rufus was baptized. Immediately following this he entered the colporteur work. In 1888 he entered Battle Creek College and two years later attended the Chicago Bible School (Record, 1945). He was united in marriage to Viola A. Kirk on November 29, 1891, in Battle Creek, Michigan (Ancestry, 2010).

Five sons of Lucius and Merab Parmele ca. 1894. Back row L to R: Lucius Chapin Parmele, Elder Charles F. Parmele, and Dr. Gilbert Hoyt Parmele. Front Row L to R: Luman E. Parmele, and Rufus Wells Parmele (Ancestry, 2010).

Years of Ministry

Elder Rufus W. Parmele ca. 1912, as Louisiana Conference President.

In 1893 he became a stenographer in the General Conference office, and in 1895 became treasurer of the Oklahoma Conference. Later he entered ministerial work and was ordained October 17, 1897. In 1901 his wife passed away while they were in Topeka, Kansas.

Elder Rufus and Dr. Lydia Parmele ca. 1930. Photo courtesy of Elder Parmele’s nephew, Elder James C. Parmele.

Elder Parmele married Lydia E. Kynett, M.D., in 1902. In 1904 they joined the faculty of Union College, remaining there until 1906 when they located in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1907 Elder Parmele was elected president of the Florida Conference, remaining until 1912, when he became president of the Louisiana Conference. After three years there he became president of the Cumberland Conference. He remained in that position but a few months, being asked by the General Conference to take the general superintendency of territory now a part of the Inter-American Division (Record, 1945).

(Times, 1914)

His Retirement Years

Elder Rufus W. Parmele age 48 in 1918 (Passport, 2013).

Elder Parmele’s health necessitated a return to the United States in 1922 and he located in Southern California. He served as pastor of the Glendale, White Memorial and Pomona churches successively, until failing health required partial retirement in 1934. Doctor Lydia Parmele passed away January 7, 1935. Elder Parmele continued to fill Sabbath appointments as his strength permitted. In 1936 Elder Parmele was united in marriage to Mrs. Dona Burnett, a Bible worker of long experience. Death came January 13, 1945, in Glendale, California, as a result of injuries received two days earlier in a fall from the steps of his residence. He is at rest, awaiting the resurrection call to everlasting life. His wife survives him. Services were conducted by Elder L. K. Dickson, assisted by Elder O. O. Burnstein and other ministers of the Southern California Conference (Record, 1945).


(1914, Apr. 5). Begin Series of Lectures. The Times (Shreveport, Louisiana). p. 11.

(1945, Jan. 31). Pacific Union Record, p. 12.

Ancestry Family Trees. (2010, Aug. 6). Rufus Wells Parmele. Retrieved from (2013). U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925. Provo, UT: Operations, Inc.

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