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The Farnsworth Family

Author: David Davolt
Published on: July 2, 2020

Doyle and Galen Farnsworth, Church Builders

Doyle Farnsworth: January 28, 1928 – November 1, 1982

Galen Farnsworth: April 4, 1930 – March 4, 2015

Work, play, war, building, coming to Christ, college, ministry, raising families… these two brothers helped each other in all of it. This is a partial story of the legacy of the Farnsworth family that is still being told today.

The Farnsworth family moved to Oregon in 1936, settling in the small railroad town of Jasper. Brothers, Doyle and Galen were two years apart and enjoyed country living, riding horses and roping cattle. When World War II came along, Doyle was just old enough to join the military, ending up in Korea. Galen fibbed his way through enlistment and was sent to Japan.

Their parents, Fred and Zella, teamed up with good friends Wheat and Mary Macauley to introduce Doyle to their niece, Anna Macauley. A correspondence began and they started courting when he returned after the war. Meanwhile, Galen was called back from the war by the governor of Oregon, at father Fred’s request. Galen enlisted in the Seabees when he was old enough and used the time to learn how to build things.

Doyle and Anna married in 1947 at Creswell Church of Christ, Creswell, OR, and moved into a house he had built in Jasper. In 1949 on Doyle’s 21st birthday their first daughter, Jennet was born. Today, Jennet, a BBC alumnus is married to Gordon Bond, also a BBC alumnus and recently retired preacher at Richland Christian Church in Oregon.

Galen lost his fiancé, June Aubrey, two weeks before their wedding, to pneumonia. Heartbroken, he returned home and went to church with his mother. He met his future wife there. He married Delores Archer and they stayed in Oregon working with his father. They had eight children. At his death, their eight children had blessed them with 23 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.

Doyle left Oregon and moved to Toppenish, WA where he farmed for four years and two more daughters were born, Charlotte (BBC alumnus) and Loretta. It was in Toppenish that Doyle committed himself to the Lord. He moved the family back to Oregon where he worked at a family sawmill with his father and brothers and got involved in the Elmira Church. He also built his second home in Elmira. He brought brother Galen to know Jesus, then convinced him to move together to Boise to attend Boise Bible College in 1955.

Galen had three kids and Doyle now had a fourth daughter, Ruth. To support their families while attending Bible College, they sold Hertel Bibles and opened Little Wheel Auto Supply. Doyle spent his summers helping with the Arcata Church of Christ in northern California. He and Anna’s first son, Dan, was born during this time. Doyle and Galen both graduated with BSL degrees in 1960 along with Jim Fleming, Ron Smock, and Bert Bell. Doyle wanted to start churches and Galen was the class musician with plans to go to Alaska.

Life After Boise Bible College

After graduation, Doyle moved to Reno, NV for a year to work with Rod Reyman at the church there and his fifth daughter, Angela was born there.   Meanwhile, Galen and his family moved to North Pole, AK to help with a new small church. Doyle made a trip to help his brother build a house. Shortly after arriving in Alaska, Galen discovered that this small church was a split off from the Church in Fairbanks. Galen told them this wasn’t right and they should go back to their church home in Fairbanks. They did and a few weeks into his first ministry he was out of a job! Much to his surprise, George Decker, the Minister at Fairbanks, told him he planned to retire and wanted Galen to take his place. Thus, his first ministry turned from a disastrous start to an amazing success story.

In 1961 Doyle moved to Arcata, CA where he ministered at the Arcata Church of Christ. He built his third home while there, with Galen’s help, of course. Doyle and Anna had their seventh child and second son, Steven in 1963. Kenny Beckman had convinced Doyle to attend BBC years ago and Kenny came regularly to preach at the church. The family grew to love him. This is the same church that Harold Gott (AS 96), the current BBC board chairman grew up in. During Doyle’s ministry here, Ruth was involved in an accident that tragically took her life. They adopted Lyle, a foster child they cared for, during this time.

Galen took a ministry in Rio Del, CA for a year, then the church in Fairbanks called him back. The family went back and forth three times before settling in Springfield, OR where Galen started a church at his father’s request.  What started with a group of 12 people grew to over 100 in a few short years. After 14 years he moved to Sacramento, CA but before too long was back in Springfield helping Alan Walker (BSL’78) at the church he had left. Most of his ministry days Galen was a “tent-maker” working different jobs to afford to minister to small churches.  He could build almost anything from guns to grandfather clocks. He has over 85 handcrafted clocks scattered around the west.

In Arcata, Doyle met John Gabriel, and a new chapter opened in his life. John had come to the United States from India to learn the business side of the lumber industry. John returned to India not yet a believer. After studying the scriptures, John called Doyle and asked how he could become a child of God. Doyle told him and he accepted Jesus and started a church that grew into the huge ministry he helps run today. Doyle and John developed a close friendship that prompted four trips to India by Doyle over many years.

John attended Boise Bible College only briefly but became a diligent student of God’s Word.  BBC presented John with an honorary degree in 1993 and an honorary doctorate in 2004. God has blessed his work in India to include a large school, church leader equipping, and many new churches have been started. Doyle was a big encourager to John and his ministry.

In 1972 Doyle and family moved to Delight Valley, Oregon to start a new Christian church with a small nucleus of Christians. He literally loved people into the church while sawing the boards for the building. Five years later the church was running 120-150 and they had started a Christian school. With the church thriving, Doyle accepted a call to minister at the Fall Creek Church. While there he began building yet another house and got excited about a discipleship program called Navigators. It was working well and the congregation was growing. Doyle wrote out some goals that he carried with him:

  1. Move into the house at Unity by Nov. 1, 1982.
  2. Read, mark, and record Bible reading every day.
  3. Review all memory work 3 times each week.
  4. Work on memory week daily – one verse per week.
  5. Witness (present Gospel) to a non-Christian each week.
  6. Jogging 4 times a week, approximately 5 miles a day.

Doyle lived these goals well. He went home much sooner than everyone would have hoped. He died on November 1, 1982, not long after moving into the house in Unity.

Galen spent time preaching in Yoncalla, OR, then worked with Danny Harrod (BA’79) just up the road in Drain. He was a fine preacher, musician and a skilled carpenter. He has inspired many of his offspring to follow Jesus and work in the church. Galen passed away on March 4, 2015.

Doyle and Galen were 100% committed to Jesus and His church, to their families, and to bring people in touch with God’s love in Jesus. Their children and grandchildren have attended Bible College and today many are church leaders from Utah to Eugene to Pakistan.  It would be hard to list all of them without leaving someone out unintentionally. (Perhaps soon, we will tell the story of some of their offspring.)  May their love and commitment to God inspire others to the same!