Arkansas Conference President, 1913-1917
His Early Years
William Edgar Baxter was born on June 29, 1881, in Bunker Hill, Indiana, to Hattie and Alexander M. Baxter. He was the fourth of seven children. After graduating from college, William worked in the Oklahoma Conference until 1906. He attended the Washington Foreign Mission Seminary in Takoma Park, Maryland, where he met Verna Stone. They were married on March 3, 1909, then dropped their work before the close of the school year to respond to a call from the Jamaica Conference (Review, 1909). Their daughter, Elizabeth was born in Jamaica on April 10, 1910.
Years of Service
Upon returning to the United States, Elder Baxter served as a pastor in the Arkansas conference in 1911 and as the Education Secretary in 1912. At the conference session at Van Buren, Arkansas, in July 1913, Elder Norwood, who had been president since 1909, was again elected president, subject to being called to other fields, and Elder Baxter was elected to take his place if this should happen. In August, Elder Norwood was called to the Tennessee River conference and in September, Elder Baxter took the office of president and Verna became the departmental leader of the Educational, Young People’s, and Sabbath School work. During this time their son, William Edgar Jr., was born in Little Rock on July 25, 1916.
In 1916, Elder W. E. Baxter was called to go to the great, needy mission field of Venezuela, South America. While a committee was studying this field and made their call for Elder Baxter, the Lord gave Elder Baxter a dream in which he saw Elder Spicer and heard the call to some needy field. This dream was repeated twice, and when the letter conveying the action of the committee was received by Elder Baxter the question of going was already settled so far as his willingness was concerned. At once Elder and Mrs. Baxter presented themselves for the physical test required of all appointees for foreign work, and were passed with no problem. This settled the whole question, and the Arkansas conference committee was called in Little Rock, November 15-20 to give consideration to the call to Elder Baxter and the choosing of his successor (Christian, 1916). The Baxters spent the next thirty-six years as pioneer missionaries in the Inter-American Division.
Returning to the United States, Elder Baxter pastored in the Southern New England conference from 1954 to 1957, after which the Baxters retired in Graysville, Tennessee. Mrs. Baxter passed away August 15, 1971, and Elder Baxter died on May 21, 1973, in Madison, Tennessee (Review, 1973).
(1909, Mar. 25). Review and Herald, p. 24.
(1973, Jun. 7). Ibid., p. 35.
Christian, J. W. (1916, Dec. 5). Southwestern Union Record, p. 1.