William Harold Elder

Arkansas-Louisiana Conference President, 1974-1982

His Early Years

Bill with his two older siblings, L to R: Bill, Dorothy, Darrell ca. 1921 (Elder, 2018).

William Harold “Bill” Elder was born on January 14, 1917, on a farm in Salina, Kansas to William Henry and Una Elizabeth Elder. Bill grew up as one of eight children. He was the third oldest of six boys and two girls (Ancestry, 2019). Bill attended public school in Saline County, Kansas. When he was around sixteen years of age he decided he wanted to be a pastor, but he didn’t have money to go to school. He worked as a cashier at a grocery store for two years and drove a taxi for a year to earn money for college. Elder waited a few years before going to college, then spent three years at Southwestern Junior College in Keene, Texas (Elder, 2018).

Family Life

Bill Elder with one of his daughters (Elder, 2018)

Bill met his wife, Mary Lee Eaton, in Keene, Texas, at Southwestern Union College. They married on September 6, 1942, in Sebastian County, Arkansas. After they married, he attended Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, and then graduated with a bachelor’s degree in religion from Pacific Union College in Napa Valley (Elder, 2018). The Elders, had two daughters, Donna and Mona. Bill and his family moved to Alexandria, Louisiana, where their ministerial work began (Record, 2010).

Years of Ministry

Elder Elder and his wife, Mary, in 1980 in the president’s office of the newly built Arkansas-Louisiana Conference. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference.

After Louisiana, the Elders moved to Arkansas and then to Pueblo, Colorado, and Lincoln, Nebraska. The Elders were invited to the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference to head the Departments of Sabbath School, Religious Liberty and Communications (Record, 2010). Five years later, they moved to Pennsylvania for six months, and he was departmental director in the Northern Union Conference. From that position he became the president of the North Dakota Conference. He moved from North Dakota to Shreveport in 1974 to become the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference president. In 1982, Elder Elder, as he was called, decided it was time to retire (Elder, 2018).

Retirement Years

Elder Elder at age 93 with his wife, Mary, in 2010. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

The Elders moved to Redlands, where he spent four years as the wills and trust director of the Quiet Hour. After leaving the Quiet Hour, Elder began writing the first of two books, in 1988. The book, Hearts in Harmony, centers around Samuel, Jonathan and David, from the Bible.“It’s a trilogy and how their lives intertwined and intersected,” Elder said. “It makes a wonderful story.” A second book was written in response to author Christopher Hitchens, who wrote a book called God Is Not Great. I read it twice and I decided to answer it,” Elder said. He wrote his book God Is Exceedingly Great, in two years (Elder, 2018). 

The Elders, celebrated their 76th wedding anniversary in September, 2018. They had been members of Banning Seventh-day Adventist Church for sixteen years. Bill preached a sermon in the Banning SDA Church on his 100th Birthday and also on his 101st Birthday (Elder, 2018). Elder Elder passed away on December 22, 2018, in Loma Linda, California (Ancestry, 2019). He had served a total of twenty-two years in the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.


(2010, Oct. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 17.

(2018, Dec. 27). William H. Elder. Retrieved from reflectingonmemories.com.

Ancestry Family Trees. (2019, Sep. 16). William Harold “Bill” Elder. Retrieved from ancestry.com.

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