James Alexander Herring was born in Tai An, Shandong, China on February 1, 1905, the fifth of six children of Southern Baptist missionary, David Wells Herring and his Australian wife, Alice Rea Herring.
Growing up in China, Alex developed a love of China’s culture and her people, and after seminary training, returned as a missionary in 1935 with his wife, Nan Trammell Herring, and their infant son. Global conflict and civil strife interrupted several terms of service in China. In 1957, Alex and Nan arrived in Taiwan and continued their ministry in Kaohsiung, Taichung, and finally Taitung until their retirement in 1970. With two children in attendance at Morrison Academy, he served on the Board of Trustees during Morrison’s formative years of 1958 through 1961.
Though he would never have described himself as a scholar, Alex Herring had a love of learning and an insatiable curiosity about God’s creation and the physical world around him. He was a preacher, an astronomer, a botanist, a naturalist, a zoologist, an artist, and an inventor. He often employed the visual in learning and teaching, and in 1968 compiled a Chinese-English dictionary which codified Chinese characters by four digits representing the strokes and radicals in each of the four corners of the character. He would often use the intricacies of Chinese characters to illustrate the truths of the Gospel.
He was committed to life-long learning and eagerly adopted new technologies. Only months before his death in 1995 at the age of 90, he was using a computer to edit and expand his 1968 dictionary for a second printing.
The Alex Herring Instructional Grant is provided as a resource for faculty and staff at Morrison Academy to foster and encourage innovative and interactive learning while instilling in students the love of learning and exploration that characterized the life of Alex Herring.