Willy Molenaar, a lay leader of the Berlin Mennonite Church, was born on 18 November 1852. He was a descendant of the Krefeld branch of the family; his father was a grandson of Wopko Molenaar, a nephew of Isaak Molenaar of Krefeld, and a cousin of Johannes Molenaar. Like his grandfather Nikolaus and his father Gustav, Wilhelm was a banker, in partnership with his brother Rudolf, in the Molenaar banking firm.
In 1900 he was made director of the Augusta Insurance Company, but had to retire after a few years because of a hearing difficulty. In 1883 he married Maria von Beckerath, a Mennonite of Krefeld. In his parental home he had learned to love music and the arts; he was a collector of paintings (sale on 13 November 1906) and helped to found the German Art Association in Berlin. He took an active part in the political, economic, and artistic life of his time. But he was also devotedly interested in the Mennonite brotherhood, sparing no pains or money to promote it. He was a member of the first curatorium of the Vereinigung, which he had helped to organize. Until 1907, when he was forced to withdraw on account of eye trouble, he was chairman of the Berlin congregation, and remained an honorary chairman until his death, on 29 December 1921. Many an article (Mennonitisches Blätter, 1911-1916) showed his interest in following Bernhard Brons as a link between the intellectual life of the time and his brotherhood. The medal struck for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Berlin congregation upon his suggestion bore the inscription, "Gott die Ehre, frei die Lehre."
Harder, E. Festschrift zur Feier des 25-jahrigen Bestehens der Berliner Mennonitengemeinde. Berlin, 1912.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon., 4 v. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 146.
Mennonitisches Blätter, passim.
Cite This Article
Crous, Ernst. "Molenaar, Willy (1852-1921)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 1 Mar 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Molenaar,_Willy_(1852-1921)&oldid=92898.
Crous, Ernst. (1957). Molenaar, Willy (1852-1921). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 1 March 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Molenaar,_Willy_(1852-1921)&oldid=92898.
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