Bengtson, William Henry


William Henry Bengtson, or “Bro. Beng” as he was known by those who knew and loved him throughout Louisiana Methodism, was born September 5, 1898 in Nortdorf, Germany. He was the son of Peter and Magdalene (nee Einfeldt) Bengston. When Peter died in 1900 the family came to America; landing in Galveston, Texas in 1902. He was reared in the home of his sister and her husband, Mr. & Mrs. Henry Sassmanhausen near Cibolo, Texas. He attended Blinn Memorial College and Central Wesleyan College in Warrenton, Missouri. At CWC, he lettered in football and received his A. B. degree. Ever an outdoors man and worker with young people, he was a Boy Scout leader for 35 years, a member of the Order of The Arrow and recipient of the Coveted Silver Beaver Award.
“Bro. Bill,” as he was also called by many, married Miss Edna Selma Hake of Hogleton, Ill. on November 22, 1925. She was to bear him four children before her death December 28, 1953. Today we know them as The Reverend Robert William Bengtson (of our own Louisiana Conference), Dr. George Wesley Bengtson, Dorothy Elaine (Mrs. George) Smith, and Margery Janelle (Mrs. Cecil) Rhodes, Jr.
Received on trial in the Southern Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1923; he was ordained Deacon in 1925 and Elder in 1928. He served faithfully throughout his years in the merged Methodist and United Methodist Churches with appointments in Meyers, Peters, Garwood, Patterson, Sealy in Texas; Eighth Street and Felicity of New Orleans; and Welsh, Winnsboro and Many across Louisiana. He came to Louisiana in 1939 and was elected that same year to the first Jurisdictional Conference in Oklahoma City of the newly unified Methodist Church. He served the Southern Conference MEC as Statistician for 15 years, and the Methodist Louisiana Conference as Secretary to the Commission on World Service & Finance for 16 years.
With all his joys, Bro. Beng was no stranger to personal tragedy. With joy he married Miss Paula Luhn of Sealy, Texas September 15, 1957 only to lose her to death in 1963. With joy he married Mrs. Mollie Wiggers of Winnsboro, Louisiana in 1964 only to lose her to death in 1974. In April 1976, he was declared “pastor emeritus” by his loving and loyal congregation at Many, Louisiana where he retired; but during those years, he suffered several strokes, became partially paralyzed, developed diabetes and lost one leg. Still he faithfully served his church, teaching a church-school class, assisting in serving Holy Communion and preaching occasionally, donating the church sign and “ripping along” on his rounds in his familiar golf cart with its little sign which said, “Don’t honk, I’m peddling as fast as I can.”
I had the pleasure of being pastor to Bro. Beng for almost five years, and the honor of performing his funeral after his death on January 14, 1981. Sometimes, I am told, a retired minister can be a burden to the pastor of a congregation. Let me say, it was not so with Bro. Beng. He was confessor, guide, teacher and father in the faith; a help to my ministry at every turn, without ever trying to take my place. Indeed, it was not necessary for he had his own place of honor among us. We will miss him even as we commend him to our loving Lord.
Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 1981, p. 169 By Ray Rolon Spiller

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