March 12, 1922 – February 27, 2019
William “Bill” Franklin Douce was born to Richard, a farmer, and Elva, a housewife, on March 12, 1922, in Martel, Ohio. The family attended Martel Methodist Church where Bill committed his life to Christ at age 13. After graduating from Martel School, he worked on his father’s farm for two years. During that time, he received his call to missions. It was in recalling this time that Bill wrote, “I felt a very definite call to become a medical missionary and made plans to prepare myself.”
Those plans materialized for Bill over the course of many years of education, local ministry, and service to his country. In October 1942, Bill began serving in the U.S. Army and was enrolled in one year of study at Indiana University to prepare for service as a surgical technician. Bill assisted with surgeries in the European theater, an experience that would undoubtedly prepare him for later endeavors on another side of the world.
The end of the war would provide stories for millions of young Americans who would settle down and never again leave the homeland after returning victorious. But Bill Douce had an eternal perspective, and God was not done writing his adventure story.
Bill enrolled at Asbury College and completed his pre-med degree in 1948, preaching at a mission church in his free time. It was at Asbury that Bill met Ilene E. Mosher, and the two were married on June 3, 1949. They had three daughters together over the next several years: Mary Rebecca, Grace Elizabeth, and Janet Elaine, and two sons thereafter: Philip Earl and Carlos Albert.
After graduating from the Philadelphia School of Osteopathy in 1955, Bill traveled to Dayton, Ohio, for an internship at Grandview Hospital. It was during this time of his life that Bill expressed that he had heard Christ’s call to begin work on the mission field.
Dr. Douce spent a short time developing his Spanish language skills and flew to Ecuador for the first time in 1957. His first project was setting up an urban clinic in the coastal city of Guyaquil. To the south of this big city lay the rough jungles and mountains of Ecuador, populated by indigenous peoples who, for the most part, had not heard the Good News about Jesus Christ. They also lacked basic medical care that Bill knew he could offer.
Thus, Bill and Ilene immersed themselves in the rugged area in and around the town of Saraguro. The Douces dedicated the next three decades of their lives to serving the physical and spiritual needs of the people native to this previously unreached region. This began with developing a medical clinic, where Bill would share a biblical message of hope to all of his patients prior to their treatment.
Dr. Douce also led efforts to organize medical caravans into more remote towns in the surrounding jungle. At times, the journey to and from these towns was treacherous, but God held the Douces in his hands throughout.
In 1962, when a mob of more than 100 indigenous nationals wielding clubs and machetes began beating down the door to the Douces’ clinic, seeking to drive the Americans out of town, several brave townspeople of Saraguro came to their defense. Provincial leaders even sent Ecuadorian Army forces to break up the mob. After just a few years, the Douces were seen as an indispensable part of the community.
A more fortified medical clinic was built in the years following this attack, which provided a platform for Bill to lead more evangelism efforts and to help set up the Carboncillo Bible Institute to develop new disciples in the region.
On March 10, 1993, Ecuador’s Independence Day, local leaders, including the provincial governor, presented Dr. Douce with an award recognizing his decades of service to the people of Ecuador.
Later in life, the Douces would continue to bring more missionaries with them back to this area, and Bill would drive the big red Chevy truck into the jungle for medical clinics and to evangelize the next generation of people around Saraguro. The legacy of Bill and Ilene Douce’s work in Ecuador is one that will undoubtedly continue to glorify God for many more generations to come.
On February 27, 2019, Dr. Bill Douce was surrounded by Ilene, his children and grandchildren. He passed into heaven while his loved ones were singing hymns and choruses and joined a great celebration of souls he had touched through the love of Jesus Christ.
Our OMS family sends our love to you, Ilene, your children, and the extended family. Be assured of our continued prayers during these difficult days. We mourn with you the tremendous loss of your husband, father, and grandfather. But we are also encouraged by the wonderful example of Bill’s relationship with Jesus Christ and for the hope he was able to share with so many lost souls. We can rejoice in knowing that Bill is now in the presence of his Savior, who he has faithfully walked with during his time here on Earth.
With deep gratitude to our Lord for Bill’s example of a life well lived for God’s honor and glory,
One Mission Society USA
If you would like to give a memorial gift in honor of Dr. Douce, you can give here to the Saraguro Scholarship Fund, to help fund indigenous pastors seminary training.