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A Short Biographical Sketch of Dr. William S. Sadler
by Meredith Sprunger

It was my good fortune to know Dr. William S. Sadler as a personal friend and colleague for more than a decade in the early days of the dissemination of the teachings of The Urantia Book and I was honored to serve as the officiating minister at his Memorial Service. Although Dr. Sadler was an extraordinary person with great talents and diverse experience in serving humankind, he was also a warm and loving person with a great sense of humor.

Dr. Sadler's experience throughout life was in many ways unique, preparing him to serve as a pioneer in the fields of medicine, psychiatry, and religion. As a boy he was not allowed to attend public school, after the death of his sister, because his parents were afraid he too might catch a communicable disease. Thus, he received most of his formal education from his parents, tutors, and through his own initiative.

While living in Wabash, Indiana, he spent much time listening to a relative, General McNaught, one time chief of scouts to General U. S. Grant, tell stories about the Civil War. Further exposure to history came from the library of General Lew Wallace, a close neighbor, who at the time was writing Ben Hur. Very early Sadler exhibited public speaking abilities. His first formal speech was given at the age of eight when he addressed a high school commencement in Indianapolis on "The Crucial Battles of History."

At fourteen he left home and moved to Battle Creek, Michigan where he started working at the renowned Battle Creek Sanitarium headed by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. Here, before and after work, he attended Battle Creek College and organized a group of students to study rhetoric and Latin. During a visit to Fort Wayne, Indiana the minister of a Christian Church discovered his remarkable knowledge of the Bible and speaking ability and asked him to supply his pulpit during a two week vacation. His preaching was so effective he received many letters of commendation and the local newspaper, referring to his unusual abilities, called him "the boy preacher." When Dr. Kellogg's brother, William K. Kellogg, began manufacturing health foods Sadler was employed as a salesman to grocery stores. He was so successful the factory had trouble keeping up with his orders.

In 1895 Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, founder of the Chicago Medical Mission, sent Sadler to Chicago as director of the Medical Mission. Here Sadler was engaged in teaching, speaking, and working with "skidrow" people. He initiated and edited a magazine which reached a circulation of 150,000 copies and managed a large financial budget. While carrying this heavy work schedule, Sadler also took training at the Moody Bible Institute and graduated with the highest grades in the history of the school.

Young Sadler sought training in speech at the University of Chicago and a lady professor after hearing his first speech said, "Get out of here. I can't teach you anything. You're very bad; your gestures are atrocious, but you are so effective I wouldn't change anything about you. I'll ruin you if I change you." Many years later when Dr. Sadler delivered a commencement address at the University of Chicago, she came up afterwards and said, "You're just as bad as ever, but so damn effective. You can just hold an audience spellbound; I'm so glad that we didn't change you."

Following his marriage to Leona Kellogg and the death of their first child, both Sadlers enrolled in the Cooper Medical College at San Francisco. While in medical school Sadler was asked to teach Exegetical Theology at the Seventh Day Adventist Seminary in San Francisco. In order to teach, he was required to be ordained in the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Later Sadler financed their medical training in special detective work. Because of his daring and successful exploits as an investigator, he was offered the top executive position in the government agency which became the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

After graduation from medical school the Sadlers began their medical practice together. Over the years many people and organizations sought Dr. Sadler's organizational ability. He became a leading figure in the popularization of preventive medicine in the country. In 1911 he gave up surgery to enter into psychiatry and went to Europe to study under Freud.

Dr. Sadler served as a professor in the Post Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Chicago and taught a course in Pastoral Counseling at MeCormiek Theological Seminary for twenty- five years. He was a popular lecturer at Lyceum and Chautauqua meetings and authored forty-two books and many magazine and journal articles.

Although Dr. Sadler had an outstanding career as a physician, teacher, speaker, and writer, he considered his most important contribution to our world was his leadership of a little known group called "The Forum" which received the Urantia Papers and published The Urantia Book.


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