Commissioner Will Pratt promoted to Glory

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By Robert Docter

A burst of brilliance shaded by the warmth of gracious humor now shines brightly on heaven’s shore. Commissioner Will Pratt, former Western Territory Chief Secretary and later Territorial Commander (1982-1984), joined colleagues and friends in Glory on July 13 from a nursing home in England.

The Chief of the Staff, Commissioner Barry Swanson, writes of Pratt’s promotion to Glory, “We thank God for the life of Commissioner Will Pratt and the impact of his ministry in the name of Christ.”

Born in England to Salvation Army officer parents, Pratt was the youngest of four children, who all became Salvation Army officers. He was commissioned in 1948, after serving in the British Navy during World War II.

Commissioner Will Pratt interviews Junior Soldier Vita Yee.

Following a corps appointment in England, Pratt served 16 years in editorial work. He moved from assistant editor of the international War Cry to editor of The Musician. Just prior to the 1965 international centennial congress, he became the Army’s director of information services and the Army’s official spokesman in London, collaborating in the production of numerous TV productions, film and radio documentaries about the Army.

His two important administrative assignments in the West resulted in strong leadership, new programs and many creative endeavors, including the launch of New Frontier in February 1983. This brought to the Army a new publication and a unique form of communication throughout the West. Gradually, various territories in the nation and the Army world developed parallel publications.

Shortly after printing the first edition of New Frontier, International Headquarters (IHQ) alerted Pratt that it had been published without IHQ approval. With Pratt’s lengthy service at IHQ, he quickly found a way to move around this problem and the paper continued on its publication schedule.

Chosen as the paper’s first editor, I was honored that Pratt read every word. He was our finest reporter, our best editor, and our most helpful critic. His comments were always positive.

A young Pratt carries the International Staff Band flag during the 60th anniversary celebration of the ISB at Buckingham Palace.

Pratt’s writing style and skills were of such excellence from a literary standpoint that even his letters were worth saving. Subtle humor, self-deprecation, strong commitment to his ethic and a sense of joy in the written word leaped from his tongue and spilled onto his pages.

After Pratt retired in 1990 from appointment as territorial commander in the Canada and Bermuda Territory, the West produced Pratt’s book, A Funny Thing Happened on…The Way!, on humor in The Salvation Army.

During his 16 years at IHQ, Pratt maintained membership in the International Staff Band. Here, he moved from flag bearer to the second cornet section (following some hilarious incidents with the band on the march), and then became the band executive officer where his “pleasing platform manner and abilities as a speaker were highly valued,” Swanson said.

Pratt’s voice fit the pulpit. His unassuming, unstuffy manner grabbed attention, focused thought processes in listeners, and achieved powerful communication. He provided the Army with a remarkable leadership style based on factors of trust and creativity.

Pratt is survived by his wife, Commissioner Kathleen Pratt, a son, Graham, and a daughter, Avril.


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