Pastor and Teacher George W. Southwick

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Bio: Rev. George William Southwick, D.D.

December 1, 1918 – January 21, 2006

George was born as the third son to Frank Herbert and Ida May Southwick in Lakeland, Florida, December 1, 1918. His parents owned an orange grove farm and he had many happy hours playing as a youngster with his brothers, friends and pets. He also had a Nanny until he was four years old. The Southwick name was important in United States history, from the time of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick, who brought about many of the religious freedoms in the United States because of the persecution they endured. Many other Southwick’s were involved in the founding of the United States. This heritage was very important to George and he always wanted his children to remember it.

During the early 1920’s, the family moved to Southern California, settling in Burbank, California. His father made a living in downtown Los Angeles owning a bicycle shop and a hot dog stand, selling hot dogs sometimes to Howard Hughes. His mother, Ida, was a homemaker, poetry and song writer. They had a strong Christian faith and instilled that in George, that continued for all his life and which led him into the ministry as a teenager.

George had lots of friends growing up in Burbank. His gregarious personality and athleticism served him well in school, where he was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” in studies and athletics. Well coordinated, he won awards in track and field and was the star quarterback for Burbank High School during his years there. Even into his 80’s he could relate football plays, teams played and other details of his time on the football field. Oh, how he loved sports. He also was asked to be drafted into the Chicago Cubs baseball team. He turned it down because his mother told him that he could not play baseball on Sundays. So he became a minister instead. Musically talented too, he played the saxophone and had a beautiful baritone singing voice. Many times he was asked to sing solos throughout his life.

After high school graduation in 1936, he attended Aimee Semple McPherson’s, of Angelus Temple, L.I.F.E. Bible College in downtown Los Angeles. After graduation and being ordained in the Foursquare denomination, he also went on to become ordained in the Assemblies of God, Whosoever Will and Apostolic Holiness denominations. He always said that he was “Four Ordained” because of his four ordinations. He began collecting and reading theological books.

George became the Assistant Pastor of North Hollywood Assembly of God Church in the early 1940’s, under the tutelage of F. Tom Curry, Pastor. He learned many things about growing in the faith and studying scriptures under Pastor Curry, lessons he used all his life. George was always a student of the Holy Bible, always seeking the Lord’s truth and had a great desire for an understanding of the scriptures. The Lord opened his eyes to many, many truths. George also walked the talk and talked the walk and led a life of integrity, fine character, deep personal faith and a ministering spirit. He led many to the Lord and had a unique way about him that the Lord used to open the eyes, ears and hearts of those that sought truth and understanding. This is how he lived his life serving the Lord. He also had many encounters with the Holy Spirit and these deeply touched his life and choices. His faith was the cornerstone of his life and it WAS him.

George met Leona Rasmussen at North Hollywood Assembly and they were married on March 1, 1942, in Malvern, Arkansas. They began married life on a four year Evangelistic Tour, driving from Arkansas to Iron River, Michigan, living there for a couple of years and then to Madison, Wisconsin and residing there for approximately two years. From there they moved to Medford, Oregon near Leona’s family. Two children were born to them in Medford, Carol and Philip. George worked at Harry & David fruit packing house as a manager and in addition, was instrumental in finding employment for lots of people at Harry & David. He also had a ministry in the Medford area, and enjoyed being involved in the Ashland Assembly of God Church. It was in Medford that he preached regularly on the radio with his own program. Even outside of radio, he had a tremendous speaking and preaching voice and most times did not even need a microphone.

Moving to San Jose, California, George became the Pastor of the San Jose First Assembly of God Church and the family lived there for approximately two and one half years. After that, he became Pastor at the Rock Assembly Church in Portland, Oregon. Two more children were born in Portland, Wanda and Paul in the mid-1950’s.

In April 1956, the family moved back to Southern California, settling in Burbank for a
brief period. George and Leona soon bought a home in Granada Hills and resided there for 12 years. Many memories and the Lord’s work continued during this period. George and Leona became members of the First Baptist Church of Van Nuys, where he was a well loved Adult Sunday School teacher and had a continually well attended class. From time to time he was asked to be a guest speaker for Sunday morning services and enjoyed singing in the choir or as a soloist. A break-up of the church led them to membership in another…Panorama Baptist Church, where again, lifelong friendships were made. George had a large Sunday School class here as well, continued singing in the choir and again preached when he was asked and was involved in other church ministries. George worked as a pharmaceutical compounder during these years at a pharmaceutical company.

During the period at Panorama Baptist Church, George began his own ministry printing pamphlets, the Kingdom Treasure and preaching wherever he was asked all over the Los Angeles area. This took him, Leona and the children to many churches of all Protestant denominations and places…Long Beach, Bellflower, Pasadena, Glendale, downtown Los Angeles and all over the San Fernando Valley and even Christian campgrounds. He knew many people and George believed that when he was asked to preach that it was the Lord doing the asking and he would comply.

It was a rare day that George passed by a used bookstore without going in. He would head to the religious section in a quest to find treasured old books, many times getting down on his hands and knees searching through boxes and boxes. It was quite an
adventure for his wife and children when they spent hours in the bookstore, never knowing what he would purchase for his library or how long it would take.

In the late 1960’s, the Southwick’s moved to Santa Maria, California. He had a trailer full of books at this point, all of which he had read. George and Leona began a new career in Santa Maria as wallpaper hangers and they worked together at this until the early 1980’s. George would still preach wherever and whenever he was asked.

In 1975, George and Leona founded The Bible Educator Ministry and as was said by many over the years, he WAS the Bible Educator. He took the knowledge and wisdom that the Lord gave him and used it well in teaching, ministering and leading many to scriptural truths. The Bible Educator met on Sundays and George also began a tape ministry, mailing out taped teaching sermons monthly to a large group all over the United States and even into England, where he knew people and developed friendships. He was able to take two trips to England on a speaking tour and enjoyed those tremendously. He deeply loved his English heritage so he was able to fulfill his lifelong dream of visiting the British Isles.

When George was asked to pray at a family, church or other event, he was always prepared with a magnificent prayer. People loved it and commented on how moved they were by his prayers. It was probably because he spent so much time with the Lord in his daily life.

As an ordained minister, he also officiated at each of his children’s weddings. He was asked to officiate at lots of other weddings, too; family members, various friends and lots of other church members.

At 80 years of age, in 1999, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Logos Theological Seminary, Jacksonville, Florida. He truly was a well gifted speaker and theologian and this honor was well deserved.

George collected books for 60 years of his life. It was a large collection at his death, estimated about 12,000. He knew exactly what he had and where he could locate a book as well. Anyone who visited George was truly amazed at his collection. Most books were quite old and rare but each one was extremely valuable, especially in content, and he knew what was in each and every one of them.

George passed away on January 21, 2006, in Santa Maria, California, preceded in death by his beloved wife of 54 years, Leona, in 1996. His funeral was well attended by family and friends, some coming from other parts of the United States. He was well loved, filled with knowledge that the Lord gave him and wise in prophetical events, but he would tell you that he was just doing the Lord’s work. He made many friends over the span of his ministry and knew many ministers, theologians and other highly revered leaders in the Christian faith. When asked by his daughter, Wanda, what he wanted to be remembered for, he stated that it was for “Preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God”.

Co-Authored by: Wanda J. Southwick Stouffer and Carol J. Southwick DeKorte (Daughters), January 25, 2009