Elton H. Wallace
1922 - 1998
Elton Wallace, violinist and singer, was a multi-talented person who served the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a teacher, administrator, speaker, and musician. He made significant contributions in higher education both in the U.S. and abroad.
Wallace was born in Arizona, the son of a minister and a Bible teacher. Although neither of his parents was a musician, he learned to play the violin and became known as a singer while attending Lodi Academy, where his parents were then located. He attended Pacific Union College, completing a B.A. in religion in 1943. While there he met and married Evelyn Kraft, a talented singer who graduated in the same year as a music major.
Following graduate study for Elton at Potomac University, the Wallaces traveled to Vietnam in 1946, where they spent the next nine years. Following this they went to the Philippines to work at Philippine Union College, now Adventist University of the Philippines, for the next seven years.
Elton chaired the department of theology and served as pastor of the college church, and she taught voice and piano and directed choirs. In both Vietnam and the U.S., they sang frequently as vocal soloists and in duets, and he played as a violinist and directed a men's chorus, something he did wherever they worked. In this instance he founded and conducted a chorus named The Ambassadors, which continues today as an award-winning mixed choir at the university.
After he had completed a B.D. in church history at AU from SDA Theological seminary and a Ph.D. in speech from Michigan State University in 1965, they moved to PUC, where they lived until 1973. He taught speech and served as chair of the communications department and Director of the Summer Session, and she taught piano and voice privately. When Noah E. Paulin, esteemed pioneer music teacher at PUC, died in 1969, Evelyn sang at the memorial service and Elton was a pallbearer. During this time she completed a master's degree in music at the college.
The Wallaces returned to the mission field in 1973, serving in Africa for the next seventeen years. In the early part of that stay, they taught at Helderberg College in South Africa, where they assisted in the music program, she directing the children's and college choir in 1973 and 1974, when Wilhelmina Dunbar, HC music director, was on a study leave. The men's singing group under his direction won cups in both the 1974 Stellenbosch and Cape Town Eisteddfod competitions for male choruses.
From 1980 to 1990, he served as the first president of Adventist University of Central Africa, an institution founded to serve the needs of French-speaking Africa, and she led out in establishing a music program. In 1985, they were honored with the Charles Elliot Weniger Award for Excellence at the General Conference Session in New Orleans, Louisiana.
After returning to continue his work at AUCA, he officiated at the funeral for American Dian Fossey in Rwanda in 1986. Fossey, who was known worldwide for her twenty years of work with and study of gorillas, was murdered by an unknown assailant. Wallace and others from the university, which was located near her work, had often visited Fossey.
Following their retirements, the Wallaces settled in Angwin, California, near Pacific Union College, where they built a house in Japanese style that he designed. Elton continued to work in evangelism in Russia, Africa, Romania, and the Philippines until his death in 1998, at age 75. Evelyn presently resides in their retirement home in Angwin.
Sources: Interview with Evelyn Wallace, 11 April 2011; Review and Herald, 13 November 1958, 4; Adventist Review, 7 July 1985, 29; Pacific Union Recorder, 30 December 1932, 2; 27 November 1969, 8; The Columbia Union Visitor, 1 April 1986, 10; Trans-Africa Division Outlook, 15 June 1974, cover; 15 November 1974, 4, 5; The Youth's Instructor, 28 March 1950, 13; Social Security Death Index.