John Buckley Willis, C.S.B.

Portrait by I. M. Gaugengigl. Original Longyear Collection.


JOHN BUCKLEY WILLIS was the son of well-educated New England parents who migrated to the Ohio wilderness. Home-schooled with his siblings until he was ready for college, he entered Ohio Wesleyan University in 1869, earning his Bachelor’s degree in 1873. John then studied at Boston University Theological School for three years and was awarded a Master’s degree. He traveled and taught in mission schools in South America, and later toured the Orient, Middle East, and Europe, returning to Boston to hold posts first at the New England Conservatory of Music and subsequently with the Youth’s Companion, a widely-read magazine for young people. During this period, Mr. Willis’s became interested in Christian Science until, in 1900, he turned wholly to its study and practice. He also married Dr. Ella Lance that year. In 1901, John was appointed to the Bible Lesson Committee, and would serve on that committee for 16 years. Also in 1901, he became President of The Mother Church and had Normal class instruction. From 1902 to 1916, John Willis was one of the Editors of the Christian Science periodicals.

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