Traw is a preacher of the Church of Christ, who started his
spreading of the word with ‘personal evangelism’, door to
door, knocking on 40 a week. Like an insurance salesman in many
ways, but Dorsey Traw says, “I was selling the greatest
insurance of all!” He is also one man who can be thankful to
turkeys every Thanksgiving Day (and every other day, you will
read below). Now in his 70’s, he remains as enthusiastic
towards his calling in life, his wife and his family, and
dispensing homilies, as he has done for decades.
Dorsey was born in Missouri in the USA, the
elder of two children born to a simple farmer and his childhood
sweetheart wife. They were a strong Christian family, and they
needed to be, to get through the American Great Depression of
the 1930’s. As a boy, Dorsey worked on the farm, and his
future, as far as he could see it then, was to become a farm
However, his parents had other ideas for
their son and heir. “My mother said I had to go to college. My
father said that he wanted to see me get a good Christian
education. The soul of education is the education of the
soul,” said Dorsey sagely. And about here is where the turkeys
come into it!
Dorsey’s father had come across a scheme
where you were given turkey chicks and raised them. When they
were fully grown, there was a guaranteed buy-back system, and he
could see there was an opportunity for him to improve the family
lifestyle by this means. He was good at it, got more chicks,
sold more turkeys and the wheel of fortune began turning in
earnest. So by the time young Dorsey Traw was ready to go to
college, he could select a good Christian establishment and took
on a three year course in bible studies - thanks to the turkeys.
In those days, final year students would
often go and give sermons at weekends. Dorsey, who described
himself then as being bashful and quiet, was asked to stand in
for a congregation in East Nashville Tennessee, whose preacher
was missing. It was then that his life’s work began. The
congregation was impressed with their young and bashful preacher
and asked him to stay on, and he did. “I’ve been preaching
ever since,” said Dorsey.
From Tennessee he moved on to Saginaw
Michigan, not a community known for its religious fervour, but
that was about to change. “It was a challenge, but I did it
for my God,” said Dorsey. It was here that he began his own
brand of insurance selling. “Personal evangelism was what I
was doing. I raised my congregation from 26 to 132 members in 18
By now he was 28 years old, and still single.
“It’s something else to find a girl who’d marry a
preacher,” said Dorsey. He also had made up his mind that he
should enter the foreign missions, but additionally felt that to
do so, he needed a wife. Like all young bucks he looked around,
but no young lady had the right chemistry. Wives of friends
would suggest suitable young ladies, and he even wrote one of
these names in his book. The name was Ola Mae Hughes.
By a strange coincidence shortly afterwards
he met a very nice young lady at a church seminar, and he asked
her name. “Ola Mae Hughes,” was the reply! He then began to
make enquiries, but found that she already had a boyfriend. “I
had prayed for a movie star with a Christian heart, and this was
her,” said Dorsey. He plucked up courage and asked her out but
it was obvious that she was torn between her two suitors. “I
can’t give you much,” said Dorsey one night, “but I can
give you a prayer.” They prayed together for help and two
weeks after meeting her he proposed and finally was accepted.
“It was 10 o’clock at night,” said Dorsey, as if it were
yesterday. I also got the feeling that night was a long wait!
And so, Mr. and Mrs. Dorsey Traw joined the
foreign missions, arriving in Thailand December 22, 1961. Dorsey
to spread the word, “I need to share Christ in the world.
It’s the wind under my wings to do God’s will,” while Ola
Mae began her time overseas in motherhood, with their first boy
being born in Bangkok. This Christian family did not end up with
an only child, as they then adopted two more (Thai) children.
Dorsey rummaged around in his folder and produced a framed
photograph of his movie star with a Christian heart, and his
three children. To say that Dorsey Traw is a proud husband and
father would be an understatement. Dorsey also brought out a
clipping taken from the Reader’s Letters page in the Chiangmai
Mail, to show me one written to the newspaper by his
daughter now in America.
Despite now being in his 70’s Dorsey is
still actively working. He spoke enthusiastically of the bible
training programs that he has going in the nursery school for
70-80 children. He has bible distribution networks to service
and addresses 24 places of worship here in the North. “I plan
to die either walking into, or out of, the pulpit,” said our
determined preacher. Noble sentiments, but I hope the
congregation is as ready for his final calling as much as Dorsey
His hobby (apart from evangelism) is exercise
and he goes jogging early in the mornings, putting the slothful
like me to shame.
It is not often that you get to meet someone so brim full of
enthusiasm as Dorsey Traw. At times it was difficult to get a
word in edgeways as Dorsey launched off into another of his
tales of yesteryear and promises of tomorrow. Always one with
the homilies, he finished our interview saying, “If you
can’t come across in person, come across in purse!”