Beryl Harriet (Newton) Curry, American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS) alumna, passed away at the age of 103 on August 31, 2020, at Judson Park Retirement Home in Des Moines, Washington. She was born on April 8, 1917, in Parshall, North Dakota. She was born on Easter Sunday and always cherished Easter in all its beautiful symbolism.
Her mother was an elementary school teacher and her father worked for the railroad. The family lived in a small railroad town, Othello, Washington where Beryl and her sister, Lila, were raised in a home filled with love and joy. In 1930 when the depression left her father unemployed the family bought a farm in Marysville, Washington. During these depression years, she learned to cook, clean, sew, and even do some carpentry work. Beryl’s high school days were happily spent in the country together as the family built a home and lived a wholesome farm life with little money but many blessings. Beryl attributes her early religious training to her mother. “I learned to love Jesus as my Savior and ‘conscience guide’ very early.”
In spite of having to earn much of her way in college and pre-nursing education at the University of Washington, Beryl maintained her church relationships. She was at Harborview Hospital when she chose to write a term paper on what it means to be a nurse on a foreign mission field. Following graduation from Harborview, she worked as a general duty nurse in surgery, and during this period she met an orderly and pre-med student, Frank Curry. It was love at first sight and they were married about a year later on August 11, 1940. They lived in Portland, Oregon where Frank was in medical school and Beryl worked at Multnomah County Hospital. They became members of White Temple Baptist Church.
As the children started coming, so did World War II, but after a stint in the Army for Frank they were able to start making their dreams come true as the war ended. On November 18, 1946, Beryl and Frank were appointed medical missionaries with the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS). They sailed for India, along with their three young children, on October 9, 1947, which was not long after India had gained independence from the British. One of their first assignments was rebuilding the Kangpokpi Hospital in Manipur, North East India, which had been badly damaged during World War II. Beryl and Frank were well equipped for the task. The hospital was replaced and rural health work was established as Beryl and Frank worked with the Assamese people.
During their first furlough, the State of Manipur, North East India, was declared a “sensitive area” by the Government of India and they were unable to return. In 1955 they were reassigned to serve at the Emmanuel Mission Hospital in Roxas City, Philippines. In addition to the responsibilities carried out in the hospital, Beryl and Frank, along with their Filipino colleagues, provided traveling clinics to some of the outlying districts.
In 1963 knowing that the hospital in Roxas City was in the capable hands of the Filipinos, and aware that the medical needs in India were great, Frank and Beryl requested to be reassigned to India. In 1965, they returned to India to serve at the Jorhat Christian Hospital and Leprosy Colony. There they continued their pattern of concern and service for people in the outlying districts and especially for persons with leprosy histories. In 1969 there was a need for their services in the Satribari Christian Hospital, a 135-bed general hospital, in Guwahati, Assam. They lived and served in Guwahati until 1979.
Beryl shared God’s love and her natural compassion and love to all while keeping the family of 6 kids and her husband happy. She truly had the gift of genuine interest in others, generosity, and selflessness. Their mission to serve God was fulfilled in many ways. They returned to the United States in November 1979, for medical reasons. They retired from ABFMS in early 1980.
After retiring in 1980 they moved to Fresno where Frank worked for the Fresno County Department of Health in California. They later lived with daughter Patty in Mukilteo, Washington before moving to Judson Park Retirement Community in Des Moines, Washington. There they became part of the community and lived life to the fullest by participating and enjoying many of the activities.
When Frank passed away in June 2006 Beryl continued to be active in the community. Beryl was also preceded in death by son, Frank Lee. Surviving are her children; Bob, Patty, Dave, Priscilla, and Paul; 10 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
There will be an intimate family Graveside Service in Marysville, Washington on September 17, 2020.