The Farm Boys

I had no hope of going to college. Tuition funds were not available. At age 31, a critical health crisis with tuberculosis had forced my father, William Harvey Roughton ’24, to take an early retirement from his pastoral ministry in Wisconsin. Our family moved back to the Georgia farm on which my father and three earlier generations of Roughtons had lived.

After plowing the fields one very hot day in July 1942, I parked the tractor at the barn. I saw my father in conversation with a visitor. His close friend from college years was introduced. The two of them had comprised a debate team at Asbury College in the 1920s. Years later, that friend, Dr. Z.T. Johnson ’25, had been elected president of Asbury College. Dr. Johnson said to me: “Bill, Asbury College has a farm where students can work. We need a student who has skill operating a tractor.”

That comment became a major turning point in my life. One month later, I was on a train, which stopped in Wilmore, KY. Several dozen students exited. Before we left the train station I was working, helping load luggage on the college farm truck, which we later carried upstairs in several dormitories.

During the year, 12 to 15 “farm boys” worked an average of four hours each day. We plowed fields, milked cows, baled hay, gathered eggs and grew vegetables. We produced much of the food served in the college dining hall, including most of the pork and beef. Each of us was grateful for this opportunity. It enabled a college education.

My education was continued at Asbury Theological Seminary, where I graduated in 1948. One week later, I was ordained in the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church.

It all began when my parents met at Asbury in 1920. Harvey Roughton and Easter Bell Mosser were married the night of their graduation June 4, 1924. Dr. H.C. Morrison officiated at their wedding. I met my wife, Lounette McCullough ’47, at Asbury. Both of our sons met their wives at Asbury College. Ken ’69 married Sandy Mahank ’69 and Phil ’71 married Mica Keller ’71. Both sons also graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary.

Our daughter, Judith received her degree at Florida Atlantic University, but her daughter, Stancie Marie Rustin graduated from Asbury in 2001. At least 25 of our siblings, nieces, nephews, and cousins have graduated from Asbury.

Ken, Phil and I have been privileged to serve a total of more than 100 years in pastoral ministry in the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church. We are thankful, very thankful that Dr. Z.T. Johnson needed a student who could drive a tractor. It was a major turning point!

by William Wesley Roughton ’45