William August Scharffenberg 夏威爾 (1896 - 1973) and

Katharyn Shirley Scharffenberg (1894 - 1966)

by Shirley Mann and Bruce W. Lo, 2013; Pierre Lindsay Chineegadoo 2019

Basic Biographical Data

William August Scharffenberg was born on August 3, 1896 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and died on March 9, 1973 in Lodi, California.

Katharyn Shirley Scharffenberg was born on February 3, 1894 in Harrisburg, Pensylvania, and died on November 29, 1966 in Lodi, California.

Parentage: Theodore and Mimi Scharffenberg.

Marriage: William Scharfeenberg married Katharyn Shirley on August 10, 1918.

Children: They have three sons from the oldest to the youngest: Dr. William A. Scharffenberg Jr., Richard W. Scharffenberg, and Dr. John A. Scharffenbergy.

Education: Both graduated from Washington Missionary College (now Washington Adventist University)

Summary of service:

Figure 1: William August Scharffenberg

  • He devoted 22 years of mission service to China and the Far East, serving in a number of different position including Education secretary, Missionary Voluntary secretary, director of the Fireside Correspondence School, principal of Nanking Middle School, and professor and dean of the Teacher Training Department at Shanghai Missionary College. His most notable achievement is the founding of the Institute of Oriental Studies (IOS) in shanghai and its various branches in other place in China.

    • Upon return to USA, he became associate secretary of the Hoe Missionary Department at GC, and later became the secretary of the Temperance Department of the SDA world church. He is best remember as the founder of the Institute for the Prevention of Alcoholism, with branches around the world.

Figure 2: Kathryn Shirley Scharffenberg

Scharffenberg, August William (1896-1973). Literature Evangelist, Evangelist, Pastor, Educator, Secretary of the Temperance Department (GC), Executive Director of the International Commission for the Prevention of Alcoholism.1

He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 2, 1896, the son of Theodore and Mimi Scharffenberg and was first married2 (Aug 1918) to Katharyn Shirley Fickes.3 He graduated from Washington Missionary College (presently Washington Adventist University) and entered denominational work in Sept 1918. Shortly after, the newly married couple left for mission service in China and in that same year he was appointed as education and Missionary Volunteer secretary of the East China Union Mission.4 In 1927, he was ordained as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor in Shanghai (China).

During his 22 years of service in the Far Eastern Division, he served in different church ministries. He became well versed and trained in the Chinese language which he studied extensively for five years and was the first foreigner to complete the five year course of study at the University of Nanking in 1924. His knowledge was profitably put to use when in 1927 he founded the Institute of Oriental studies (I.O.O.S) with headquarters in Shanghai, China; other branches were launched in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Manila and Singapore. As director of the I.O.O.S,(1927?1941) he trained teachers in the direct method of teaching the Chinese language, developed an elementary “Five-Year course of Study” in Chinese5 and also acted as linguistic consultant for the Shanghai Power Company (1930?1935). He developed a set of technical vocabularies for the company which was applied in their language training for employees. The I.O.O.S equally supported the foreign Y.M.C.A (Shanghai) in their language development courses (1930?1935). Prof W.A. Scharffenberg diligently pioneered and directed the Far Eastern Division branch of the Home Study Institute (Fireside Correspondence School) from 1923 to 1941 for the great educational benefit of the young people and denominational workers in this division.6

He contributed to the progress of the SDA educational mission in China as the principal of the Nanking Middle school (1920?21) and as professor of Education as well as dean of the Teacher Training Department at the Shanghai Missionary College, (1921-26).7

He returned to the United States in 1941 and was elected as an associate secretary of the Home Missionary Department (GC) and in 1946 he became the secretary of the Temperance Department of the SDA world church. He was an active and intelligent advocate for the cause of temperance worldwide8 and was the visionary great architect for organizing the Institutes for the Prevention of Alcoholism in various places of the world9 until his retirement in 1964.

He received many special recognition and awards for his dedicated work. He was the first westerner to complete the Five-Year course study at the University of Nanking and in 1924 he was awarded the Diploma in Chinese and is also listed in the directory of American scholars.10

On March 5, 1973 he rested in his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ whom he served faithfully.

Justice Tek Chand from India summed up well the life of Professor William A. Scharffenberg:

He had the knack of endearing himself to everyone he came in contact with and he possessed a wonderful capacity of lifelong friendships… He dedicated his life to the cause of sobriety and worked for it right up to his last breath.11

Figure 3: The Scharffenberg family, back row L to R William A. Jr, Richard W.; front row from left Kathryn Shirley, John A., and Willliam A Sr.

Figure 4: In Nanjing

Figure 5: Back in United States


1 Fact Sheet on Professor William August Scharffenberg. Adventist Heritage Center, James White Library. Andrews University. See also William Scharffenberg.1957. The Seventh-day Adventist Church, World Headquarters, Bureau of Public Relations. Adventist Heritage Center, James White Library. Andrews University.

2 During his retirement years, after the death of his wife, he married Luella Alice Ray in 1969. See under “Deaths,” Review and Herald (April 1973): 22

3 From this marriage three children were born namely: William August, M.D.; Richard Shirley and John Alfred. See Fact Sheet. Ibid.

4 William A. Scharffenberg (1957), The Seventh-day Adventist Church World Headquarters, Bureau of Public Relations. Adventist Heritage Center, James White Library, Andrews University.

5 “Summary of Proceedings, Far Eastern Division Committee, 1927 Annual Meetings,” Far Eastern Division Outlook 16, no.6 (June 1927): 7.

6 For a full and complete purpose of the Home Institute Far Eastern Branch, see Scharffenberg “The Fireside Correspondence School—Far Eastern Branch,” Far Eastern Division Outlook 17, no.9 (September 1928):


7 During his ministry in the Far East, he has experienced life threatening situations like bombings and had to escape and leave his home. See The Orient. This publication is available at the Adventist Heritage Center, James White Library, Andrews University.

8 He actively promoted the first educational awareness film—produced by the American Temperance Society—on the ill-effects of tobacco smoking, “One in 20, 000,” showing the relationship between lung cancer and cigarettes smoking.

9 “Fact sheet On Professor William A. Scharffenberg,” Adventist Heritage Center.

10 His expertise of the Far East and the political conditions prevailing back then is evident in his six?part series of articles entitled “The Challenge of the East to World Peace,” see The Ministry Magazine 6, no.7(July 1933)?Jan 1934.

11 Southern Asia Tidings, 68, no.4, (April 1973): 6.