The Urantia Book Fellowship

Article from PERVADED SPACE, a Chicago Area Newsletter
Spring, 1979

Most students of The Urantia Book are aware of the significance of the name of D. William S. Sadler with regard to the history of the movement. But many perhaps do not realize that Dr. Sadler had led a widely varied and fascinating life before ever coming in contact with the teachings.

Born in Spencer, Indians June 14th, 1987, Dr. Sadler spent the next 93 years in a variety of pursuits. His invariably successful careers included those of surgeon, psychiatrist, teacher, lecturer, salesman and writer.

William's family moved a great deal around Indiana when he was young, as his father, Samuel Cavins Sadler, went from teaching music to being in the mercantile business, (William was at times put in charge of his father's general stores) to selling Bibles.

While growing up in Indiana, William was taught history by General McNaught, one-time Chief of Scouts to General U. S. Grant. McNaught arranged for William to give his first lecture at the age of eight, on "Crucial Battles of History", to a high school graduating class in Indianapolis.

Since the Sadlers lived across the street from author Lew Wallace, the boy would go lie on the floor of Wallace's library, reading history books while the author wrote Ben Hur. This kind of self-education was the pattern of Sadler's life, which contained virtually no formal education, since his mother did not want him to go to school for fear of what might happen.

His first taste of religion was also self-acquired. William's parents were set against religion; William did not discover the Bible until he was 12. But soon he was preaching in a nearby vacant church to friends of his with whom he played baseball. (He also played baseball in a five-county league that included Billy Sunday, who would become a famous evangelist.)

William's mother, Sarah Isabelle (Wilson), had secretly joined a Christian church after one of two twin daughters had died. Soon the family became interested in Seventh Day Adventist literature, as well as studying the Bible. Finally, his parents were baptized and joined the Adventist church. Eventually, Cavins Sadler became known as one of the great Bible salesmen of a day when there were many.

When he was 14, William went to Battle Creek, Michigan, to work as a bellboy at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. The superintendent was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, brother of W. K. Kellogg, who was chiefly responsible for starting the Kellogg's cereal empire, and uncle of Lena Kellogg who was later to become William's wife.

In 1893, the Sanitarium began the manufacture of health foods. "Willie" was chosen to represent the Sanitarium at stores around the Midwest. He was eminently successful, at times even selling more food than could be produced; once he even won a bread-baking contest at a local store.

Lena Kellogg was a student nurse when she met William in 1893. They were married in 1894, beginning a long personal and working career together. A few years later, their first son died at the age of 10 months. The Sadlers decided to go to medical school. They went to different schools throughout the country, finally graduating from Rush Medical University of Chicago. For William, except for three months, medical school was his first formal education. William and Lena were partners both as doctors and authors while living in the Chicago area.

After several years as a general surgeon, Dr. Sadler said, "After taking out 10 gall-bladders, there wasn't much charm left. But minds are all different." So he resolved to become a psychiatrist, passing an exam.

He spent nearly a year in Vienna, studying with Freud, along with Adler and Jung, but he could not accept all that he learned there, leaving to form what he termed as the school of "American Psychiatry."

Dr. Sadler lived and practiced psychiatry for many years at 533 Diversey Parkway, Chicago, in the building that is now Urantia headquarters. He also was a professor and lecturer of pastoral psychiatry at McCormick Theological Seminary, director and chief psychiatrist at the Chicago Institute of Research and Diagnosis, and attending psychiatrist at Columbus Hospital. He never really retired; he said that his patients retired him.

Dr. Sadler, who was described in International Who's Who as a "pioneer in the popularization of preventive medicine", wrote 42 books on various subjects. Among them were The Mind at Mischief, a bestseller, and Theory and Practice of Psychiatry, long a major text in psychiatric schools.

The Sadlers were married nearly 42 years before Lena's death in 1939. According to E. L. Christensen, their adopted daughter, "They worked together in everything. I never met a nicer couple." The Sadlers had another son, Bill, who among other things was the first president of Urantia Brotherhood. Dr. Sadler was survived by three grandchildren.

The Forum, the original group to study the Urantia Papers, evolved from one of the many groups organized by Dr. Sadler during his life for the study of a wide variety of topics. During the last portion of his long life, the study and teaching of The Urantia Book was a most important pursuit.

For those that knew him, Dr. William S. Sadler was an individual impossible to forget.

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