Memorial Service December 29 for Dr. L. Arden Almquist

Post a Comment » Written on December 10th, 2002     
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NORTHBROOK, IL (December 10, 2002) – A memorial service will be held Sunday, December 29, for Dr. L. Arden Almquist who died early Sunday morning at Covenant Village of Northbrook.

The service will begin at 3:30 p.m. at North Park Covenant Church, 5250 N. Christiana Avenue in Chicago.

Well-known throughout Covenant circles, Dr. Almquist is perhaps best known for his missionary service in Congo from 1951 until 1963 and his leadership as executive secretary of the Department of World Mission of the Evangelical Covenant Church from 1963 through 1970. He served as medical director of the Paul Carlson Foundation and Medical Center in Loko, Congo, from 1970 until 1978.

Almquist was born September 4, 1921, in Nome, Alaska, the son of missionary parents. His childhood was spent in Swedeburg, Nebraska, and Salina, Kansas, where his father was a Covenant pastor.

He majored in both theology and medicine. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a Bachelor of Divinity degree cum laude from Andover Newton Theological School. He earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Kansas Medical School and was the recipient of its Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1961. He completed post-graduate studies at North Park Theological Seminary, the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium, and the Summer Institute of Linguistics at the University of North Dakota.

He was ordained as a Covenant minister in 1945 in Worcester. Two years later he and his wife, JoAnn E. Adell, were married in McPherson, Kansas. He served as pastor from 1942 until 1946 at Chaffins Congregational Church in Holden, Massachusetts, and also served as chaplain at Holden Hospital during the last year of his pastorate.

In 1951 Almquist was commissioned by the Evangelical Covenant Church to serve as a medical missionary in the Republic of Congo. Following a year of study in Belgium (French and tropical medicine), the couple sailed for Congo and served in the Covenant’s Wasolo station in the Ubangi.

After independence was granted to Congo in June 1960, Almquist served seven months as territorial health officer. He was instrumental in founding the Covenant Medical Missions Fellowship and was a member of the Christian Medical Society, Kansas Medical Society, and was an associate member of the American Medical Association and a fellow in the British Royal Society of Tropical Medicine.

In addition to the University of Kansas alumnus award, Almquist was inducted into the National Order of the Leopard, Republic of Zaire, with the rank of knight, which is the highest honor given to a foreigner. He received the Doctor of the Year award from Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago in 1972 and is listed in the Dictionary of International Biography, London, and in the bi-centennial edition of Community Leaders and Outstanding Americans.

He is the author of several books, including Covenant Missions in Congo (1957), Covenant Missions in Alaska (1961) and as a contributor to There Was a Man (1965), all published by Covenant Press, as well as author of Missionary, Come Back! (1970) published by World Publishing Company. Poetry was another of his passions, including one of his better-known poems, Prisoner, which is available for viewing by visiting Prisoner

“He was extremely creative and visionary in his missions work and mission perspective,” said long-time colleague and friend Eileen Thorpe, who with her husband, Dr. Roger Thorpe, also served as medical missionaries to Congo. “He was very intelligent. And he was playful among the Africans, too,” she recalled, citing one time when he balanced a broomstick on his nose and hung by his knees from a tree limb to the delight of those gathered around him. “He could get people to laugh.

“And he showed great courage in continuing his writing and church involvement in spite of serious physical challenges,” Thorpe continued. At the time of his death, he was a member of North Park Covenant Church in Chicago.

Almquist’s wife died in 1993. Surviving children include L. Alden, Rebecca and Katharine. A son, Timothy, died at birth in 1958 and is buried in Karawa. Almquist will be buried in Nebraska.

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