William Berkeley Ormond
T/5 in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co B
Born 1922 in VA, Died 2020
County of enlistment: Washington, DC
Other residence(s): Norfolk, VA; Tacoma Park, MD; Washington, DC; Lakeville, NY; Casper, WY; Salem, OR; Spokane, WA; McMinnville, OR; Portland, OR
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: decorators and window dressers
College education before the war: Paige-Davis School of Advertising
College education after the war: George Washington Univ., Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School
William Berkeley Ormond was born on March 9, 1922 in Norfolk, VA, the middle of three children. His father was a marine engineer. As a young man he was known as "Snooks," and was interested in art from an early age. He graduated from Maury High School in Norfolk in 1940, where he was active in the chorus and as a cheerleader. The yearbook says that he "idolizes drawing; expects to be commercial artist; will study at National Arts Academy."
He did study art but in a more practical way; he completed a correspondence course in magazine and newspaper advertising with the Paige-Davis School of Advertising in Chicago. He lived in Washington DC and supported himself as a decorator/window dresser at Palais Royal, a large department store in the capital (which eventually became part of Woodward & Lothrop).
He registered for the draft on June 30, 1942, and enlisted on October 2, 1942. Like many other artists he found himself in the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion. Before he went overseas with the unit, he married Florence Elizabeth Gaither on November 20, 1943.
He was discharged from the Army in the fall of 1945 with the rank of T/5; according to newspaper articles about him in the post-war years he was in the OSS (a wartime intelligence agency that was predecessor to the CIA) for at least part of his wartime service.
He went back to work as an advertising account executive, but something had changed for Will since the war—he had found his calling as a minister. So in 1947 he enrolled at George Washington University, receiving a BA with honors in public speech in 1950. During those years, while he honed his public speaking skills, he worked as Director of Veterans' Education at Southeastern University in Mt. Rainier, MD, and also as an assistant minister at the Chevy Chase Baptist Church. In 1950, he enrolled at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, NY where he received his Bachelor's of Divinity degree in 1953. During his New York years he served as pastor at the Lakeville Community Church in Lakeville, NY.
In 1953, he was offered the position of pastor at the First Baptist Church in Casper, WY; he and his wife had three children by this time: Gail, William B. Jr., and James. During his three years in Casper, he also organized the first Bible study group at Casper College—teaching a for-credit course to college students in the daytime and an evening non-credit course to older adults. A 1956 article in the Casper Morning Star reports that the classes "attracted a large following for Rev. Ormond's dynamic presentation of the Bible." He also served as president of the Casper Ministerial Association, and pursued correspondence courses with Burton Theological Seminary for a Master of Theology and Doctor of Theology degrees.
By this time he was known professionally as Rev. W. Berkeley Ormond.
In 1956 he accepted a position as pastor at the Calvary Baptist Church in Salem, OR and relocated his family to the west coast, where they would remain. Having gotten some experience as a college professor in Casper, he continued to teach, serving on the faculty at Willamette University.
In the late 1960s, he served as pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Spokane, WA and he eventually moved back to Oregon, taking a position as Director of Church Relations at Linfield College (now Linfield University) in McMinnville, OR—in this role he focused on the relationships between the college and the American Baptist Churches in the US.
In 1979 he chaired the 56th annual School of Christian Learning, sponsored by the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (continuing the ecumenical work he had begun long ago with the Casper Ministerial Association).
During his ministry, he also regularly composed and performed religious music, and was a popular speaker for local civic, fraternal, and religious groups.
He died on September 12, 2020, at the age of 98, and is buried at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, OR.
1940 high school yearbook (see link below)
1940 high school yearbook
1942 draft card
1942 enlistment record
1943 marriage record
1953 article in the Casper Star-Tribune (WY) re his ministry with biographical details
1954 article in the Casper Morning Star (WY) re his ministry
1956 article in the Casper Morning Star (WY) re his ministry (as he leaves WY) with lots of biographical details
1956 article in the Statesman Journal (Salem, OR) re his new job there (with bio details)
1965 article in the Spokane Chronicle (WA) re his new ministry there
1979 article in the Portland OR Oregonian about his ecumenical work
1982 article in the Statesman Journal (Salem, OR) re his new position at Linfield College
2020 Find a Grave record