Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the Death of William Whitcomb

Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the Death of William Whitcomb

William Whitcomb Death Notice

William Keith Whitcomb


William Keith Whitcomb, 89, of Madison died peacefully on January 27, 2014 with his wife, Dorothy, at his side. Known for his boundless energy, hearty laugh and beloved for his dedication to service, he will be missed by many. Bill was born in Cresbard, South Dakota on November 29, 1924, the second son of Elmer and Adella Whitcomb. In 1928 he went to central India with his parents who were medical missionaries.  Bill attended Woodstock School in Mussoorie, Uttaranchal, India and graduated high school in 1942. Soon after he was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corps and served two years near Calcutta, India as a staff sergeant. In 1947, Bill married Mary Dorothy Vaugh, a classmate from Woodstock. He received a B.S. in Agriculture from the University of Minnesota in 1950 and returned to India as a missionary.

Bill’s career in India began as the manager of the hospital founded by his father, but his calling was to feed the hungry.  He went on to establish the Rural Life Program, which taught farming and other rural development skills.  Bill also developed a secure water supply for thousands of villagers.  He was known affectionately by villagers as “Billy Baba” having grown up in the same area where he worked. On two separate furloughs to the U.S. he studied sociology at Cornell University and poultry science at the Ohio State University.  After serving in India for 25 years, Bill and his family settled in Madison Wisconsin, where he worked as the regional director for Church World Service’s CROP organization to raise money for third world hunger relief. 

Bill volunteered for Meals on Wheels and procured unsold produce from the farmers market to cook meals at the Wil-Mar food pantry.  He joined the Madison East Kiwanis in the 1970’s participating in programs up until this year.  In retirement, Bill was an active member of the Oakwood church choir, singing at a service on the day he passed away.  He was a leader of the Handy Man group, crafting furniture and toys in the workshop for non-profit groups, family and friends.

As granddaughter Kate noted he was our hero, missionary, volunteer, furniture maker, prankster, storyteller, and tireless and humble advocate for the poor. He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Tom and John.  He is survived by his wife Dorothy, daughters Cate (Jack Hinz), Patricia (Peter Sotos), sons Dr. John (Holly) and Dr. Robert (Susan), sister Ann Lennington of Rochester, MN, and grandchildren: Alisha (Jay Johnson), Jeremiah, David, Kate, Caroline and Daniel. 

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, April 19 at Lake Edge UCC in Madison, Wisconsin at 1:00 pm with a reception to follow.  Condolences may be sent to Mrs. Dorothy Whitcomb, 5565 Tancho Drive, Rm. 214, Madison, WI 53718.  Memorial donations can be made to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515 or at .


Tribute William Whitcomb from daughter Cate Whitcomb on 2/5/14:

We had a wonderful small memorial here at Oakwood yesterday – about 60 residents and staff recalling their favorite things about dad – his sparkling eyes, his big laugh, his love of speed especially on his scooter – I summed it up as exuberance.  He loved living, right up to the last moment. 


Tribute William Whitcomb from Global Ministries Missionary Dr. Anil Henry on 1/31/14: 

The Whitcomb family is well remembered, Bisrampur, Tilda, Baitalpur.  Bill was one who loved to be with the people; the Rural Life Progaram (RLP) program which brought hope for many in agriculture.  He loved to connect with the villagers and that is what people remember.  I can still remember when we in Mungeli had the opportunity the help restore the church in Bisrampur with support from the Whitcomb family.   The opening celebration was most grand with both Sharon Watkins and Geoffrey Black being there.  It was great to have had Bill and his sister, Anna Mae visit us a few years ago.  We thank God for his life and even more for just who he was.

Tribute William Whitcomb from former missionary Dr. Ruth Catton on 2/10/2014:

Bill and his wife Dorothy were valued colleagues when I moved from South India to reopen the hospital in Baitalpur – they were in “nearby” Bishrampur.  His boundless energy and enthusiasm for the work and the people were contagious. May he rest in peace.