Edwin Oswald Ware Sr. (1853 – 1933)

Edwin Oswald Ware

Edwin Oswald Ware, Sr. (October 29, 1853 – December 6, 1933), was a Baptist clergyman and educator who was the principal founder of Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana in Rapides Parish in Central Louisiana. He was both the college financial agent, 1906 to 1907, and its first president from 1908 to 1909, when he was succeeded by W. C. Friley, who also remained at the helm only for one year.

Louisiana College marked its 100th year on October 3, 2006. For the centennial ceremony held on October 26, former U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush was the principal speaker.

Ware was born in West Berea in Powell County, Kentucky. He was educated in local schools, the University of Kentucky at Lexington, and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He was licensed to the ministry in 1880.

He moved to Louisiana in 1888 and lived first in Cheneyville in south Rapides Parish. In 1890, he married the former Blanche Fortson of rural Keatchie in DeSoto Parish. The couple had nine children.

Ware served as the pastor of Southern Baptist churches in Pineville, Alexandria, Lecompte , and Boyce, all in Rapides Parish. Ware preached within a brush arbor tabernacle on Reagan Street in Pineville at what became the First Baptist Church of Pineville, founded in 1911 with modest beginnings as “Pineville Baptist Church”.

Ware was executive secretary of the Louisiana Baptist Mission Board from 1892 to 1906 and again from 1910 to 1912. He was also the general missionary of the mission board from 1919 until his death.

He was president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention in 1892, 1922, and 1923. He owned and edited the Baptist Chronicle from 1912 to 1919. The paper was the forerunner of the Baptist Message, the long-time state denominational organ published in Alexandria. Ware offered a resolution at the Louisiana Baptist Convention in 1893 that ultimately resulted in the establishment of Louisiana College. He was the first of the thus far eight presidents of the institution.

(One of Ware’s grandsons, Alexandria lawyer Edwin Oswald “Ed” Ware, III (1927-2016), was the Rapides Parish district attorney from January 1, 1967, until December 31, 1984. A conservative Democrat, Ware, III, was known for undertaking various moral crusades, including legal action against obscenity. In 1973, he tried to ban the film The Last Tango in Paris starring Marlon Brando from being shown in an Alexandria theater.)


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