Leon Elwood Emmert, 90, passed away on Sunday, July 20, 2014. Born April 20, 1924, in Clearspring Township, Ind., he was the youngest of three children born to George and Vida Emmert.
Leon was involved in family farming, and derived satisfaction from 4-H and Corn School. He enjoyed raising livestock and proudly received more than a dozen first place and prime champion ribbons. The Emmert famiy were involved in local politics and worked to establish the Farm Bureau. They were active in the Topeka Baptist Church, which laid the foundation for Leon's desire to become an overseas missionary. Leon attended Northern Baptist Seminary in Chicago, Ill. where he met Martha Atkins, a fellow student and graduate, who became his wife. They hoped to go to Burma or India as missionaries but political instability in those regions made it impossible. They worked for the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, in the Belgian Congo. Leon and Martha served 35 years there, helping to establish schools and nurture students who went on to become successful professionals now working around the world.
Son Daniel was born in 1950 while they made preparations to go to Congo. After a year of language study in Belgium, they began their work in Congo in 1956, at EPE Kimpese in Bas Congo. A year later they moved to Nsona Mpangu. Daughter, Michal Rose was born in 1960, the year Congo gained its independence from Belgium. In 1964, the family moved to Moanza where they established the first high school in that area. In 1968, they moved to Milundu, a large developing American Baptist high school, and worked there until 1972. Leon was then asked to move to the capital, Kinshasa, where he was associate general secretary for the mission, in cooperation with a Congolese counterpart. In 1980, they moved to IME Kimpese, a hospital center, and worked for the next five years.
Their last mission assignment was at the sea port, Matadi. They were the first missionaries stationed there since the the mission was established 110 years earlier. As a missionary, preacher, teacher, mentor and advisor, Leon lived his life with compassion and conviction. "He touched and influenced countless lives, helping anyone who asked him, as far as he was able." After retirement, he was active in supporting the church, both locally in Fort Wayne as well as internationally. He remained interested and involved in social, political, and humanitarian causes. According to a Congolese former student, later colleague and friend, "Leon lived a large, significant life".
Surviving are his son, Daniel Emmert of Fort Wayne; grandsons Nathan Emmert of Fort Wayne and Todd Emmert of Colorado; great-grandchildren Alyssa and Antonio Emmert, both of Colorado; daughter Michal Rose of Virginia; and granddaughter Destiny Emmert-Hart of Virginia.
The family is planning a public remembrance event for both Leon and Martha in July 2015 at First Baptist Church, Fort Wayne.
Burial in Sloan Cemetary, Clearspring Township, LaGrange County, Ind.
Arrangements by Klaehn, Fahl & Melton Funeral Home, www.klaehnfahlmeltonfunerals.com.
WC 499 Paid obituary