Lyle C. Wilcox

by Bruce W. Lo

Family Background

Lyle C. Wilcox, brother of Mrs A.L. Ham, was from...

The Wilcoxes have three children. The eldest daughters, Lois, was born in the US, while the second daughter, Bonnibel Jean, and the youngest son, Wendell, were both born in China.

Mission Service in China

In 1924 Pastor and Mrs. Lyle C. Wilcox left the United States and sailed for their first mission appointment in Canton, China, as principal of the Sam Yuk Middle School 三育中学. Accompanying them was their first child, Lois, who was almost 4 years old at the time. In 1926 another daughter, Bonnibel Jean, was born to the Wilcoxes. Then in 1927, when the Wilcoxes were refugeeing in Hong Kong from Canton, their son, Wendell, was born.

Mrs. Wilcox was a professional musician. Besides taking care of the family, she also taught music - piano and voice - in the School, much to the relief of her sister-in-law, Mrs. A.L. Ham, who was doing the music teaching before. Lyle Wilcox himself also formed a school band.

Soon after the birth of Wendell, the Wilcoxes were able to return to Canton. They remained there till 1932, except for a 2-year stay in the United States due to the illness of their eldest daughter.

While in Canton, one night a thief came on the compound, and there was a lot of yelling when our guard discovered the thief. The students from the school came running out of the dormitory and caught the thief. Not long after that while, Pastor Lyle Wilcox was on a trip, the light in the living room of the Wilcoxes suddenly turned on in the middle of the night. Mrs. Wilcox was petrified, thinking that a thief had gotten into the house. She lay still for a few moment, but hearing nothing, she quietly got out of bed and peeked into the living room. But she could not see anyone there. Finally she discovered that, to much of her relief, a big fat cockroach was sitting on the light switch, which was very loose, and accidentally turned on the light.

On another occasion, a group of children including the three Wilcox children were climbing a large tree in front of their home in Canton. Accidentally, young Wendell fell out of the tree and landed on his stomach on the ground. The fall knocked the breath out of Wendell, and Ah Lan, the housemaid heard the commotion and saw the young boy Wendell laying motionless on the ground. She ran over tot he school where Mrs Wilcox was teaching piano and voice, and told her that Wendell had fallen out of a tree and killed himself. Mrs Wilcox was shocked, and ran breathlessly down to the clinic, which was the forerunner of the Canton Sanitarium and Hospital. She heard the boy screaming and was relieved that he was still alive.

Basic Biographical Data

Figure 1: The L.C. Wilcox family, the three children's names are Lois, Bonnibel Jean, and Wendell.

Figure 2: Sam Yuk Middle School band under the direction of Elder L.C. Wilcox. A.L. Ham was the trumbome player seated 2nd from the right.

Figure 3: Lyle Wilcox (back row 3rd from right) and Wendell Wilcox (front row) rescued on Feb 23, 1945 from the La Banos Internment Camp, in The Phillippines

In 1932, the Wilcox family returned to China from furlough. But this time they went to Hong Kong, where they remained until 1939. All together, the Wilcoxes spent 35 years in China and the Far East.

During the Japanese war, both Pastor Lyle Wilcox and his son Wendell were interned at the La Banos Internment Camp in the Pillippines, and were rescued by the Allied force on February 23, 1945.