Leland Stanford Straw

1911 - 2007

Leland Straw was one of four children born to Estelle Murphy and Walter Edmond Straw. His father graduated from Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University, in 1910, the year before he was born. Leland's early life was spent in many different places as his father pursued a career as teacher, builder, academy administrator, pastor, and missionary to Africa, where he was the first president of the Zambesi Union.

In the decade following their return from Africa in 1924, the family moved several times, living in Colorado, Texas, Indiana, and Tennessee before settling in Berrien Springs, Michigan, in 1933 where the father taught in the theology department at EMC for fifteen years, at one point serving as head of the department. After leaving EMC, he served as president of Madison College, a self-supporting SDA school. He was an accomplished cornet player and early in his career, when teaching or serving as principal, always started a band program at that school.

Leland and a sister, Sylvia (Mitzelfelt), were active in music throughout their lives. Their musical talent came not only from their father's side of the family but from their mother as well. A number of persons in their mother's family were poets, like their mother, Rose, who was a natural poet. Also, an innate singing and keyboard ability existed in that side of the family.

Leland married Alice Goodge in 1933, the year he graduated from George Peabody College for Teachers. They were both talented singers and pianists and formed a duo piano team that performed frequently to acclaim when they were students at GPCT. During the first seven years of their marriage they taught at Madison College. They left in 1940 to establish, with the Goodge family, Little Creek Academy, a self-supporting school located near Knoxville, Tennessee.

Because of the founders' talents, training, and interests in music, and with Leland serving as principal and one of the music teachers, music was an important part of the program at LCA and students enjoyed a variety of experiences. Both Leland and Alice would spend the rest of their lives working at LCA. Following their retirement, the school was renamed Heritage Academy and relocated to Monterrey, Tennessee where it still continues.

Straw was living in Knoxville, Tennessee, when he died in February 2007 at age 95.


Sources: Obituary, Southern Tidings, April 2007; Walter Edmond Straw Obituary, Review and Herald, 3 May 1962, 22; Interview with Patricia Mitzelfelt Silver, 2004; personal knowledge.