Former Publishing Director
Bruce Wickwire Dies

U.S. native served throughout East Asia, Europe as bookseller, manager (Posted October 18, 2012)

BY ANSEL OLIVER,  Adventist News Network

Bruce M. Wickwire, Sr., was the publishing director for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists from 1975 to 1980, following his service as the director of  the publishing and door-to-door sales of Adventist literature in his native United States and mission fields worldwide.

Wickwire, who died September 27, 2012, at age 96, held publishing director posts in eastern Asia three years after World War II, and later in Europe and Africa. In 1949 he helped secure funds from the world church to expand the Indonesia Publishing House, which met the growing demands of local Adventist literature evangelists.

Throughout his career Wickwire touted the benefits of the denomination’s literature ministry, saying it was a good return on investment for the church, both financially and for bringing in new members.

PUBLISHING PROFESSIONAL: Bruce M. Wickwire, Sr., a former publishing director for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, passed to his rest September 27, 2012, at the age of 96. [PHOTO: GC]
Wickwire wrote two books in retirement. His 2005 book, Gospel in Shoes, identifies several well-known Adventists who joined the church because of Adventist literature, including Jack Blanco, who went on to become dean of the School of Religion at Southern Adventist University in Tennessee, United States, and authored The Clear Word.

A Nebraska native, Wickwire worked as a farmer in Arkansas before becoming a  door-to-door salesman of Adventist literature, then known as “colporteuring.” In 1944 he became the publishing secretary for the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference, and two years later moved to serve in the same post for the Texas Conference.

In 1948 Wickwire moved with his family to Indonesia to accept a call in Jakarta. Traveling to Southeast Asia then meant living on a small freight ship at the mercy of sometimes rough seas. His daughter, Linda Breedlove, recalls a harrowing trip through a typhoon, in which the captain fought to keep the ship upright as waves crashed over the deck for three days.

“I always said the devil didn’t want him to go out there and tried to stop him,” she said. “He [had] been through a lot, but he always came through trusting the Lord.”

Wickwire served in Indonesia for two years, later moving to Singapore to work for the Adventist Church’s then Malayian Union Mission and Far Eastern Division. Trips to outposts throughout the division back then typically took months. “Him coming home was like Christmas, with all the things he bought for us on his travels,” Breedlove said.

Wickwire’s 2000 book, Bold Journey, recounted an overland trip from Singapore to London while returning home with his family from the mission field in 1954. His kids remember overnight bus rides with Persian carpet sellers who had never seen Westerners.

“My dad was very active, very adventurous, and always positive. I can’t remember him ever being negative,” said his son, Bruce Wickwire, Jr.

Later in life, the elder Wickwire held publishing posts in the Southwestern Union Conference in Texas, the Columbia Union Conference in Washington, D.C., and the church’s Northern European Division in England. He came to the denomination’s world headquarters in 1972 as associate Publishing Department director before becoming director in 1975. He retired in Tennessee.

But retirement did not mean an end of service, Howard Scoggins, vice president of marketing for the Review and Herald Publishing Association, said. Wickwire “was known as a ‘live wire,’ ” Scoggins told the Adventist Review. “He was an energetic guy who was just always there. There was never a time he was off duty. There was never a time he was unwilling to be of service.”

Working with the family, Scoggins arranged for a reprinting of Gospel in Shoes, which now is also available as a $2.99 e-book via Barnes & Noble’s Nook service. That book—in print or in pixels—was Wickwire’s calling card, Scoggins said. As the former publishing director received hospice care at home, “he got the message out . . . to call and ask us to send some books, because he didn’t like people coming and going without being able to give them a copy of his book.”

Wickwire’s wife, Adele; three children; 13 grandchildren; and 22 great-grandchildren survive.
                                                                                                                            —with additional reporting by Mark A. Kellner

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