History of the Restoration Movement


Willie T. Cato
1923 - 1991

Table Of Contents
Brief Life Overview, Harp
African Christian Schools Announce Changes
Willie Cato Departed At Expo '91
Willie Cato Passes Away
The Tea Party
Keeble And Cato Together Again!
Cato Dies At 68
Willie And Maxine Cato Endowment Scholarship Fund
Willie Cato Was My Friend
Obituary For Maxine Watts Cato Hunter
Directions To The Graves Of Willie & Maxine Cato

Brief Life Overview

Willie Cato was born in Whites Creek, Tennessee. He was married to Maxine Watts, and they had six children and eight grandchildren.

He attended David Lipscomb College where he completed the B.A. degree, and George Peabody College where he finished the M.A., plus 30 post-graduate hours.

Brother Cato began preaching in 1950 and has worked with Tennessee congregations in Hendersonville, Nashville, Shackle Island in Goodlettsville, and Pennsylvania Avenue in Nashville.

Brother Cato taught at David Lipscomb College, served as President of both Nashville Christian Institute and, at African Christian Schools Foundation.

The Catos were missionaries for Christ all over the world, serving Christ in every way. This loved and respected couple are now with the Lord. Willie passed September 22, 1991. After his passing, Maxine was remarried some years to Henry Hunter of Nashville. She passed from this life December 21, 2012. Their bodies were interred in the mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemery in Nashville, Tennessee.

-Scott Harp

African Christian Schools Announce Changes

NASHVILLE, Tenn.-The Board of Directors of African Christian Schools Foundation announced changes within the foundation administration at a recent fund-raising dinner. E. Lucien Palmer, who has been president for 12 years, will now be chancellor of the foundation. Willie Cato, who held the post of vice president for four years, will now act as foundation president.

Palmer has served as a minister, a missionary to Nigeria for a number of years, and president and chancellor of Michigan Christian College. He is currently on the board of that institution.

Palmer is one of the charter board members of the African Christian Schools Foundation, along with Roger Church, Miles Ezell Sr., Howard Horton and Elvis Huffard. In his new role as chancellor of ACSF, he will concentrate on overseas matters in Nigeria where the school is located. He will be actively involved in an advisory capacity to the foundation and will be its historian.

Willie Cato has been associated with Christian education in Nigeria and West Africa since 1959. He is currently on the board of several non-profit organizations in the Nashville area.

As newly-appointed president, Cato is moving toward expansion and renovation of the school's campus in Nigeria. In addition, his plans call for upgrading and expanding the public relations and development functions of the foundation.

In addition to the administrative changes, Harvey Hearn Jr. has been added to the staff as director of development. Hearn moved to Nashville from Abilene, Texas. In his new post, Hearn will direct the fund raising, public relations and advertising activities of the foundation, including publications, special events and speaking engagements.

African Christian Schools Foundation is a non-profit foundation operating a Bible college, a printing shop, a Bible and literature distribution center, and a clinic in Nigeria. The school has been in existence since 1954, although the foundation was established in 1959. It is supported primarily by members of the churches of Christ.

-Editor, Gospel Advocate, News, News, Jan. 1, 1987, page 24

Willie Cato Departed At Expo '91

Mainly, he invited everyone to a breakfast scheduled for the next morning in behalf of African Christian Schools, and exhorted us all to evangelize. He had some shortness of breath and said it was caused by his medication. He said "I am in good shape." He went down the steps from the stage and sat down and was stricken, apparently with heart trouble. Gary Mahan, an IBC graduate, and Ryan Hammitt, an IBC student administered CPR until the Medic men arrived in an ambulance. They also tried to revive Willie, but to no avail. In another issue of The World Evangelist there will be a story about brother Cato. I knew Willie Cato about 30 years. He and I were co-teachers of a course on God's Eternal Purpose at Great Commission School in Nashville 20 years ago. I believe he was the only one with whom I ever taught a course as co-teacher. It was a great pleasure to work with him. He was an outstanding leader in world evangelism. Our sympathy is extended to his beloved widow Maxine and the children. In another issue of The World Evangelist there will be a story on brother Cato.

-Basil Overton, Editor, World Evangelist, October, 1991, page three.

Willie Cato Passed Away

Willie Cato, President of African Christian Schools Foundation, died of a heart attack on September 22, 1991. He had just made a brief presentation at International Bible College in Florence, Ala. He was 68.

Cato was active for half a century in ministry, Christian education and the promotion of numerous good works in the brotherhood. He served as minister of several congregations, including the Shackle Island congregation for 16 years. He served as president of the Nashville Christian Institute, and was associated with the African Christian Schools Foundation for 31 years.

He had planned to retire from the ACSF in December and devote his time to holding workshops and meetings in mission congregations.

Cato had recently commented on his retirement, stating, "It is difficult to find a door to get out of when you're loved, appreciated and been a part for so long. I have served with the finest people on earth and in God's Kingdom -- the Board, the staff and the supporters." Henry Huffard, long-term missionary to Nigeria, has been named as president-elect of the foundation.

He helped found the Happy Hills Boys Ranch and the Great Commission School, where he contined to teach. He was known throughout the Middle Tennessee region as a tireless promoter of good works. He was m active member of the Pennsylvania Avenue congregation in Nashville.

"It's hard to express the kindless and generosity of Willie Cato," said Lucien Palmer, Chancellor of African Christian schools Foundation and longtime co-worker and friend of Cato. "Nearly 2,000 people visited the family and attended he funeral. That's an indication of the kind of man he was.

"He was a unique individual who touched people's lives in a very gracious way. Whenever a missionary needed help or a weary traveler needed a place to stay, he called Willie and MaxineCato."

Cato, along with his wife Maxine, also traveled extensively holding workshops and gospel meetings in Fiji, New Zealand, Nigeria, the Samoan Islands, Singapore and the U.S.

His funeral was held in Nashville on September 25 at the Granny White Church of Christ.

The large auditorium was completely filled. Willie Cato is survived by his wife Maxine, six children,. ten grandchildren and a sister.

He will be sorely missed by a host of friends and co-workers who relied on him for counsel, friendship, help and advice.

-World Evangelist, November, 1991, page 5,  

The Tea Party

As a writer and editor one sometimes runs across an assignment that is a true job and a spiritually enlightening experience. My first major editing job with World Evangelism was such an experience. I worked on the book, "His Hand and Heart: The Wit and Wisdom of Marshall Keeble," with author Willie Cato of Nashville, Tennessee. I want to tell you a little about this marvelous book and the man who gave it life.

Willie wrote of his labors for the Lord with the great black preacher, Marshall Keeble. They worked and traveled together during the racially troubled decade of the 1960's, a totally uncommon occurrence for an elderly black man and a young white preacher. The book was never meant to be a biography, although there are portions which tell facts about Keeble's life. What Willie captured was the heart of the man -- you read on each page exactly what it was that made Marshall Keeble "tick." You could see clearly that it was an undying love for God that kept Keeble going through good times and bad.

"His Hand and Heart" is filled with parable-type lessons which were written down by Willie on any kind of paper he could find handy. There are also many incidences and private conversations recorded which occurred during their travels together throughout the country. Here is an excerpt from the book. Willie wrote:

"Brother Keeble wanted to die preaching. Once when planning a trip to Nigeria, some tried to discourage him from going, but Keeble wanted to go to preach to 'his folks.' Another time he made a trip around the world and some did not want him to make that journey. They felt he was too old and that he might die while he was gone. Neither was a concern to brother Keeble: He did not care where he died, as long as he was preaching. He wanted to die preaching, and he almost did. Marshall Keeble's final sermon was delivered on Wednesday evening, April 17, 1968. On Saturday, April 20, he ceased from a life of preaching, for the Hand which he had held led him home."

Willie Cato learned well from this powerful man of God. As you read the book you find that Willie was also a gentle soul, full of love for his Maker and for his fellow man. Never did you hear an unkind word from him about others. And Willie shared this very same desire to preach until his final breath.

Sunday, September 22, 1991, was a very busy day for Willie Cato and his beloved wife, Maxine. They had visited two congregations of the Lord's church, where Willie spoke to the brethren. As president of African Christian Schools, Willie was also asked to say a few words at an area-wide singing which was held at International Bible College as the beginning session of Expo' 91 in Florence, Alabama that evening. I had the privilege of being in that audience. When I saw them come in I immediately made my way to the front to give Willie and Maxine a big hug before the singing began. It was always a joy to see these two special friends in the Lord.

After a few opening songs, Willie went to the podium to speak. During his talk, the crowd learned that he would be retiring on December 31st and that a younger man, Henry Huffard, had been selected to take his place.

Henry was on the front row and you could see that he was a quiet, humble man, full of love of the Lord, just like Willie Cato and Marshall Keeble. Willie concluded by inviting the audience to a special breakfast the next morning which was being sponsored by African Christian Schools.

Carefully, Willie took his cane and made his way down the stairs to sit by Maxine. The glorious singing began once again to fill the room. Within minutes another heavenly event occurred. Brother Willie Cato did exactly what he had always wanted to do -- he went away to be with his Lord and Savior after preaching three times in one day! I saw his head, weary from all the days events, lean over onto his wife's shoulder. Help was immediately summoned, but God was already taking care of my dear friend.

The human side of me wept and prayed throughout the evening. But a portion of the book Willie and I had labored on kept going through my mind which said:

Seeing Marshall Keeble in Heaven will be a great joy for me.  I can almost see him at the gate with his hand outstretched saying, "Well, son, I'm glad to see you. Come on in!"

Once, when communicating with each other about the book, I told Willie I hope to sit down and have a cup of tea with him and with brother Keeble when we all get to heaven. Willie said he would have it ready for me. That's one tea party I plan to attend!

-Basil Overton (EDITOR'S NOTE: All proceeds from the sale of Willie Cato's book "His Hand and Heart" go to African Christian Schools, P.O. Box 41120, Nashville, TN. Order the book at this address.)

-Connie Lee Krute, Staff Writer, World Evangelism, J. C. Choate Publications, P. O. Box 72, Winona, MS 38967,  Phone: (601) 283-1192 - Note: This is a timed piece. Some of those enlisted as living may be now deceased.

Keeble And Cato Are
Together Again!

They carried the gospel together many years
Through this land of sorrow and sin
When Cato was Keeble's trusted escort
Now they're together again!

They rest in the presence of the Lord of life
With neither black nor white skin
And no bodies of strain and stress
Now they're together again!

They both left for the Lord working for him
Exhorting their Christian kin
Holding forth the word of life
Now they're together again!

-Basil Overton,
World Evangelist, November, 1991, page 5

Cato Dies At 68

Cato Dies at 68 Willie Cato, president of African Christian Schools Foundation, died at age 68 of a heart attack Sept. 22. Cato had served as minister of several congregations, including the Shackle Island congregation in Nashville for 16 years.

He served as president of the Nashville Christian Institute and was associated with the African Christian Schools Foundation for 31 years.

Cato had planned to retire from the foundation in December. Henry Huffard, long-term missionary to Nigeria, has been named president-elect of the foundation.

During his tenure at Nashville Christian Institute, he traveled extensively with Marshall Keeble in meetings, which he wrote about in his book His Hands and His Heart.

Cato helped found Happy Hills Boys Ranch and the Great Commission School, where he continued to teach. He was an active member of the Pennsylvania church in Nashville.

Cato and his wife, Maxine, have conducted workshops and meetings in Fiji, New Zealand, Nigeria, the Samoan Islands, Singapore and in the United States.

Cato is survived by his wife, six children, 10 grandchildren and a sister. His funeral was at the Granny White Church of Christ; nearly 2,000 people attended.

-Gospel Advocate, December, 1991, page 48

Willie And Maxine Cato Endowment Scholarship Fund

J. C. Enlow, Director of Development at International Bible College has announced the establishment of the Willie and Maxine Cato Endowment Scholarship Fund. The interest from this fund will be used to help students attend IBC.

Willie Cato died at IBC September 22, 1991 immediatdy xfter leaving the stage where he had made a short speech of exhortation for all of us present to ~ontinue in the work of :vangelism. His widow, Maxine agreed for the scholarship fund to be started. She and Willie have been great encouragers and supporters of IBC.

When Willie died he had served for a long time as president of African Christian Schools Foundation with which he was associated for 31 years.

Willie helped to bring into existence Foundation For Christian Education which offers scholarships to deserving students in a Christian School. A number of them have attended IBC with the help of this scholarship fund.

For many years Willie Cato escorted the great black evangelist. Marshall Keeble all  over the country. Two or three years ago Willie's excellent book about Keeble entitled His Hand And Heart was released. I recommend that everyone read it. Benefits from this great book go to the Keeble Scholarship Fund for students in Nigeria who want to prepare to spread the gospel.

Willie Cato was a faithful and compassionate preacher of the gospel. Maxine stood by him with great loyalty in all his evangelistic efforts. They used their vacation time for over 30 years working in campaigns, gospel meetings, lectureships, and mission work in various places in foreign lands.

Willie preached in many places including 26 years in Sumner County, Tennessee. Sixteen of those years were at Shackle Island where he also served as an elder ten years.

While preaching at the Hendersonville, Tennessee congregation he preached on the radio every Sunday morning for five years.

Willie was honored at David Lipscomb College January 7, 1982 as one of the two alumni Representatives of the Decade of the 1950s for: (1) the manner in which skill, knowledge, truth, and value, as taught by the college, are reflected in the individual's life; (2) the fact that the individual is highly esteemed by his fellow alumni; and (3) the degree of excellence by which Christian principles of love, humility, faith, and integrity are demonstrated.

After graduating from DLC Willie taught there three years in the Bible, Speech, and Sociology Departments, and was the students' counsellor. During that time he received his Master's Degree from George Peabody College.

Since 1978 Willie suffered two heart attacks, open heart surgery and a stroke, but never ceased to work the works that were close to his heart. He was so pleased to be able to go up and down steps, and some of his last words (to the audience at IBC) was "I can do steps, but I don't do windows."

I am confident many will make generous donations to this scholarship fund in memory of Willie and in honor of Maxine. Please make all checks for it to International Bible College, and designate them for Cato Fund.

Send them to: International Bible College Cato Fund P. O. Box IBC Florence, AL 35630 -- The Editor

Willie Cato Was My Friend

Not many people in this site touched my life so personally as Willie and Maxine Cato. I first met Willie in the early 1980s when he and Maxine came to New Zealand for a mission trip. The Harps were in Hamilton, New Zealand at the time, working among the Kiwis in that nation. As part of their mission effort they taught a Marriage and The Home seminar. I was dating my wife Jenny, at the time. We were at that stage of looking to make a home together. Willie's lessons from God's Word came from the pulpit like lightning bolts to our hearts. In many ways these proved to be some of the best pre-marital counseling we could ever have received. From that time until Willie's death, the Catos were mainstays in our lives. When we came stateside to visit and make reports, we always stayed in their home, as so many others have done. They believed in mission work, and they loved missionaries. Their tables were always set for company, because they entertained a lot! They were a working team for God. Willie was one of the most true and vigilant soldiers of the cross in the 20th Century. - Scott Harp, web editor, TheRestorationMovement.com

Obituary For Maxine Watts Cato Hunter

HUNTER, Maxine Watts Cato "Gigi"Age 89 of Nashville, TN. Died Friday, December 21, 2012. Loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend. She served the Lord all her days and was an inspiration and encourager to all who met her. She daily tended to other's needs with a servant heart. She was a ladies Bible class teacher both nationally and internationally, traveling the world as a missionary. She loved to cook and no one ever left her table hungry. She began a "Monday Meals" food ministry at Granny White Church of Christ serving meals to all those in need. She loved other people more than herself and she loved God with all her heart. Although she will be greatly missed, Heaven is brighter and we shall meet again. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 48 years, Willie Cato and beloved son, Mark Cato. Survived by beloved husband of 14 years, Henry Hunter; children, JoAnn Hutchison, Keith (Janice) Cato, Rita (Mike) Cochrane, Amy (Chuck) Hamar, Clark Cato, Ronnie (Barbara) Hunter and Philip Hunter; grandchildren, Alan (Angie) Hutchison, Ryan (Michelle) Sweeney, Chad (Kelly) Cochrane, Kyle (Mollie) Cochrane, Chase Cato, Keegan Hamar, Tucker Hamar, Jeff (Jenny) Hunter, Brent (Julie) Tanner, Lora Cochrane, Megan Hamar, Kaylee Hamar, Julianna Cato and Dana Zhang; 10 great-grandchildren; and sister, Sue (James) Demonbreun. Funeral services will be conducted Monday, December 24, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. at Granny White Church of Christ, 3805 Granny White Pike. Entombment Woodlawn Mausoleum. Honorary Pallbearers: African Christian Schools Board, Elders and Deacons at Granny White Church. Philip Hunter and Her Grandchildren will serve as Active Pallbearers. Memorial contributions may be made to African Christian Schools, Granny White Church of Christ Missions and Lipscomb University Scholarship Fund for Minister's Children. Visitation will be Sunday from 1 - 5 p.m. and Monday from 9 - 10:30 a.m. All visitations and services will be at Granny White Church of Christ. WOODBINE FUNERAL HOME, HICKORY CHAPEL, Directors, 615-331-1952 Still Family Owned.

-Published in The Tennessean on December 23, 2012., Both photo and information may be subject to copyright.

-Note: This is a timed piece. Some of those enlisted as living may be now deceased.

Directions To The Graves Of Willie & Maxine Cato

Directions: Woodlawn Cemetery is located behind the 100 Oaks Shopping Center that faces I-65 just before the I-440 Interchange. From 100 Oaks travel east on Thompson Lane and turn left into the main part of the Woodlawn Cemetery. Continue in past the chapel to a multi-storied building in the back. You can ride an elevator to the fourth floor, and the mausoleum is about midway of the building in the most north section on the left. Southern Cross 4th Floor - 32-33 B

GPS Location:
36.117143,-86.760281

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