Wilbert Carrell Quillen
1913-1981

Biographical Sketch of W.C. Quillen

     Wilbert Carrell Quillen was born September 11, 1913, at Florence, Alabama, in Lauderdale County. He was the son of William Henry and Olive Mae (Behel) Quillen.

     He attended Lexington High School at Lexington, Alabama. Later he attended Florence State College.

     Wilbert Carrell Quillen was baptized August 10, 1925, by John Cruse.

     On December 29, 1934, Quillen married Miss Lennice Corine Vinson. To this union three daughters were born: Wilma Jean, Martha Gail, and Janet La-Trive.

     Quillen began preaching in 1932 in Lauderdale County, Alabama.

     Places where he did full time local work were: Lauderdale County, Alabama, 1932-1940; Killen, Alabama, 1941-43; Haleyville, Alabama, 1944-71; Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, 1971-80.

     States in which he held meetings were: Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, Ohio, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Texas, Illinois, and Missouri.

     He averaged holding 15-20 gospel meetings each year of his ministry.

     Quillen wrote articles for two papers: Words of Truth and the Northwest Alabamian.

     When he preached for the church at Haleyville, Alabama, he conducted a daily radio program over station WJBB from 1949-1971. While preaching for the church in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, he conducted a daily radio program over station WDXE, 1971-80.

     He made an educational tour of Bible lands in Europe and the Middle East in 1958. He preached to the touring group on Mars Hill. The subject was the same as that Paul preached there (Acts 17:22-34).

     He baptized all three of his children, his three sons-in-law, and four of his seven grandchildren.

     Quillen died January 27, 1981, in the Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital in Florence, Alabama.

     Survivors included his wife, Lennice Corine and three daughters, Mrs. Wilma Jean Hill, Mrs. Martha Gail Coan and Mrs. Janet La-Trive Willingham.

     His body lay in state at Morrison-Elkins Funeral Home at Florence, Alabama. The funeral was held at Lone Cedar Church of Christ in Lauderdale County, Alabama, with Charles Kretzer and Aldon Hendrix officiating. Burial was in Haleyville, Alabama, with interment in Winston Memorial Cemetery.

In Memoriam, Gussie Lambert, Shreveport, LA, c.1988, pp.233,234

W.C. Quillen (1913-1981)

     On Tuesday evening, January 27, 1981, the spirit of brother W. C. Quillen, outstanding gospel preacher, took its flight to be with the Lord. To this writer he had been a beloved friend and respected servant of the Lord for a number of years. He had, just a few days before he became ill, retired from full time local work with the Pulaski Street Church of Christ in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee where he had preached since 1972. Before that he had worked with the Ninth Avenue Church of Christ in Haleyville, Alabama for twenty-eight years.

     Brother Quillen was an unusual preacher. First and foremost, his sermons were always literally filled with scripture, which he quoted from memory in a very effective way. Those who heard him received the distinct impression that he considered God’s word a thing to be loved and respected. One would also be impressed wit h the genuine love for preaching which brother Quillen radiated. God endowed him with a powerful, yet very mellow voice, which he used effectively in the proclamation of truth. He possessed an enviable ability to condemn sin and refute error while leaving no question about his love for the sinner and his sympathy for those in error. His congenial manner, both in and out of the pulpit, made it easy to like him.

     His writing, like his preaching, was always scriptural, sound, and to the point. The last article of his which we published in Words of Truth (“What is Man?” — 12/26/80) is typical of the clear, scriptural style which characterized both his writing and his preaching.

     To a very unusual extent, brother Quillen kept himself abreast of current events. During his first meeting at Adamsville a good many years ago he stayed in our home. I learned during this meeting that a good part of every day he spent in reading the newspaper. He knew what was going on in the world, and would very effectively illustrate some Bible truth by referring to something that had been in the news that very day.

     These qualities we have mentioned are some of the things which enabled brother Quillen to do such effective work in a congregation for such a long time. These are among the qualities which caused him to be in such great demand for meetings, going back to the same places time and again. His preaching was always fresh, never stale and repetitive.

     We are thankful to our Father in heaven for the life and influence of brother W. C. Quillen. We are thankful our paths crossed. I think I am a better person and preacher because of it. This old world can ill afford to give him up. We pray that others may rise up to fill the gap.

-The Editor, Bobby Duncan, Words of Truth, February 13, 1981, page 2

Gospel Advocate Obituary

     Wilbert Carrell Quillen was born on Sept. 11, 1913, to W. Henry and Mae Behel Quillen, near Florence, Ala.

     He passed from this life Jan. 27, 1981, following several heart attacks within two weeks. Funeral services were conducted at Lone Cedar, the congregation he grew up with, on Jan. 29, 1981, by Brother Charles Kretzer and Brother Alden Hendrix, long-time friends. Burial was at Haleyville, Ala.

     His maternal grandparents migrated from Pennsylvania to Alabama in 1884. Their eldest son, William M. Behel, was the first of the Behel family to be converted from Lutheranism to the Gospel of Christ. He was converted by the late Brother T. B. Larimore, who later converted Wilbert's grandparents from Lutheranism. Brother William Behel was an early pioneer preacher and greatly influenced Wilbert in preaching as did his parents and friends.

     He was baptized into Christ in 1924 by John Cruse.

     He began preaching the gospel in 1932 at the Antioch congregation near Killen, Ala.

     Getting out of high school in the depression days, college seemed out of the question. But, having a strong desire to preach the gospel, he spent long hours studying God's Word, often memorizing long chapters. He had a wonderful memory and could always quote the scriptures of his lessons.

     He acquired a great historical background of the Bible, which gave depth to his lessons.

     On Dec. 29, 1934, he was married to Lennice Vinson who has been a loyal, faithful wife through the years. To this family were born three daughters, who too, are fine Christians, along with their companions and their children, who are older.

     They are Mrs. Tilman (Jean) Hill, Mrs. Harold (Gail) Coan, and Mrs. Gary (Janet) Willingham. The six grandchildren are Derrick Coan, Tara Coan, Hunter Quillen Coan, Layne Hill, Jana and Storian Willingham. Surviving also are five sisters, one half-sister, five brothers, and one half-brother.

     Wilbert preached the gospel 49 years without fear or favor, yet in the spirit of love.

     For ten years he worked at secular jobs, preaching once a month at various congregations in North Alabama and Southern Tennessee.

     Most of his local work was done in three congregations—Killen, Ala. (2 years); Haleyville, Ala. (28 years); and throughout the brotherhood.

     He held numerous meetings throughout the brotherhood from Florida to Michigan, from Texas to South Carolina, and was on lectureships at Freed-Hardeman, David Lipscomb, and Alabama Christian. These necessitated his being away from home much of the time, but his faithful wife kept the family going. To all who called, sent cards, offered prayers, visited the funeral home, or expressed love and concern in any way, may we say "thank you."

—Cultice U. Quillen, 1712 Jackson Rd., Florence, Ala. 35630., Gospel Advocate, Vol. CXXIII, No. 5., March 5, 1981, pages 155,156

Webmaster's Note: Haleyville, Alabama is this editor's home town. From my youth, the name of W.C. Quillen was a household word. From a youth my father, Richard Harp received much admonition from W.C. Quillen. Brother Quillen helped my father in his early years of preaching to find churches for which to work. While at Lipscomb, my dad was a young husband and father. Quillen helped him find preaching jobs in central Tennessee to provide for his family. The Harp family has much for which to be thankful for in the life and work of W.C. Quillen. Recently my father told me that before Brother Quillen died, he and my folks would attend meetings where he was preaching, and on every occasion, Brother Quillen would always recognize my parents from the pulpit during his introductory remarks.

Wilbert Carrell Quillen 1913-1981

     "Whenever a speaker fails to make his audience forget voice, gesture and even the speaker himself whenever he fails to make the listeners conscious only of the living truth he utters, he has failed in his speech. . .As a matter of fact, very few of the great orators have had loud voices, or if they did have them, they did not employ them. To the Master we must go, after all, even for our methods of utterance; and at his feet learn that oratory is the utterance of the truth by one who knows it to be the truth. And so will your words be words of fire and your speech have insight among your fellow men." (Modern Eloquence, Vol: 5, Edited by Ashley H. Thorndike, Introduction, pages XIV, XXIV.

     Anyone who knew and heard W. C. Quillen preach the gospel can say foregoing is highly descriptive of him.

    Cultice Quillen, one of Wilbert's brothers said of him: "He preached in a soft, kind voice, calmly an deliberately. He was stable, and one who would stick with the truth. He always gave book chapter and verse for all that he preached and never failed to declare the whole council of God.

    "He was a meek and humble person son, always giving credit for his accomplishments to God, his good wife, and faithful brethren. He was always submissive to the elders and held them in high esteem.

     "He had a great sense of compassion and love for the lost, the sick, and all the unfortunate.

     "In teaching the lost he was always tender and patient, ever showing God's love and the simplicity of the law of Christ.

  "When discussing the Bible with those whose views were not the same as his as his, his conduct was always patient, kind, and that of a gentleman."

    These words by Cultice are typical  of what many say of W.C. Quillen.

His Funeral

     A very large crowd assembled in the meeting house of the Lone Cedar Church of Christ January 29th, 1981 for the funeral service of W.C. Quillen. Two of his long-time friends, Aldon Hendrix and Charles Kretzer delivered eulogies and and lessons of eternal truths at the service. Brother Quillen had requested that these men preach at his funeral. They also conducted Brother Quillen's father's funeral.

     Wilbert grew up at Lone Cedar. Hundreds of friends and loved ones from that community and other places were at his funeral service. I took to the funeral, the students of my Preparation and Delivery of Sermons Class at International Bible College. We had to stand during the service like many others.

    Brother Quillen died January 27, 1981. He suffered several heart attacks. He was born September 13,1913. His body was buried at Haleyville, Al.

His Family

     In the January 1981 issue of this paper there was a story about William M. Behel. His parents migrated to Bailey Springs, near Florence, Al. in 1884 when William, their eldest son, was twelve years of age. William was the first of his family to become a member of the church of Christ. He was converted by T. B. Larimore. William had been a Lutheran like the rest of the family.

     William Behel's sister, Mae, married W. Henry Quillen. They were Wilbert's parents. William Behel, was a gospel preacher. He influenced his nephew, Wilbert Quillen to become preacher.

     W. C. Quillen and Lennice Vinson were married December 29, 1934. Their three children are: Mrs. Tilman (Jean) Hill; Mrs. Gary (Janet) Willingham; and Mrs. Harold (Gail) Coan. They and their husbands are Christians, and so are their children that are old enough to be. They all live in Haleyville, Alabama where W. C. and Lennice lived 28 years while W. C. preached for the church there.

     Brother and sister Quillen's grandchildren are: Derrick, Tara, and Hunter Quillen Coan; Layne Hill; and Jana and Storian Willingham. Brother Quillen's brothers are: Aldine (M. A.), Clinton, Henry Lee, Cyrus, Cultice, and Harold (a half brother).

     The sisters of W. C. are: Mrs. Fred (Eula) Pennington (deceased), Mrs. Carl (Jennie) McGee, Mrs. Kelcy (Flavil) Rogers, Mrs. Walter (Pauline) Wright, Mrs. Gaylon (Lucille) Stutts, Mrs. Fred (Margaret) Pennington, and a half-sister, Mrs. Bonnie Crunk.

His Faith

     John Cruse baptized W. C. Quillen into Christ in 1924. In 1932 brother Quillen began to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ whom he loved and trusted. He preached the message of his Master forty-nine years. During his first ten years of preaching W. C. also worked at secular jobs, and preached at monthly appointments at various churches in Alabama and Tennessee.

    I asked brother Quillen's widow, Lennice if she knew how many series of meetings were conducted wherein W.C. did the preaching. She said she did not know, but she knew he preached in hundreds of such series.

     Brother Quillen preached for the church at Killen, AL. two years. He preached for the church in Haleyville, AL. twenty-eight years. He preached nine years for the Pulaski S t . Church in Lawrenceburg, Tn. About one month before he died, he had terminated his work there. He and his wife were settled in their new home in Green Hill, Al. near Florence. So he went to his eternal home, that "house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." (2 Corinthians 5:1.)

     When W.C. was graduated from high school, this country was in a great economic depression. He decided he could not finance a college education. His desire to preach God's word was so great he studied the Bible intensely. He studied history and other Biblically related matters. He memorized much of the Bible. I believe he could quote more scriptures than any preacher I knew.

    I heard W. C. Quillen preach on The Thief On The Cross at St. Joseph, Tennessee in 1948. He was then an able preacher, and improved as the years went by.

Words By His Wife

     My Margie and I visited Lennice Quillen, February 22, 1981. I asked her to summarize some of her feelings about Wilbert. She said: "He was a good husband, and a good father. He was a kind person. I could not have asked for a better husband.

     "I thought he was about the best preacher there was. He could read something a time or two and then remember it and recite it.

     "He loved people; he had a feeling for people. He loved to be with people. I have known him to sit all night talking to people about their souls. "

     What better things could a wife say about her Christian husband? We sorrow not as others which have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4: 13.)

—Basil Overton, World Evangelist, 1981, March, 1981, p.1,22

Lone Cedar Church And The Father Of W.C., Henry Quillen


W. Henry & Mae B. Quillen
Buried In Lone Cedar Church Cemetery, North of Florence, Alabama
The Parents of W.C. Quillen & Leaders In The Church At Lone Cedar

Directions To The Grave of W.C. Quillen

Haleyville, Alabama is located in the Northwest corner of the state. Heading northwest on Hwy. 78 out of Birmingham, travel to Jasper, and turn north on Hwy. 5. Travel approx. 39 miles north to Haleyville. In town you will turn right on Hwy 195 toward Double Springs. Pass Walmart and the hospital out of town, past Needmore and you will come to an old Drive-In that is no longer in use. Just past the drive-in is Winston Memorial Cemetery. Go past the cemetery and turn right. Then turn right again into the cemetery (only one entrance). Travel straight to the other end of the cemetery and turn right at the last road. (You'll see the drive-in directly ahead of you) Then park. Go into the graveyard toward the drive-in. The grave is close to the fence.

WebMaster Note: This is also the cemetery where my grandparents, Ralph & Bernice Harp, and great-grandparents, Stonewall  & Leone Turner, are buried. They were faithful Christians, both men having served as elders at South Haleyville Church of Christ for many years. Many other members of the Church of Christ are buried in this cemetery as well. Also buried in this cemetery are other relatives and dear friends of the Harp family.

GPS Location
34.255688987857134, -87.56124436855316


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