In memoriam: Emeritus missionary Emanetta Harbour Qualls, 101

Emanetta Qualls

Emanetta Qualls

Emanetta Harbour Qualls, the International Mission Board’s oldest emeritus missionary, died Dec. 2, 2019. She was 101.

She and her late husband, Samuel, shared the gospel among American Affinity Peoples in Brazil for 20 years.

Qualls was born Jan. 21, 1918, in the Muncie neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas, to John Rhinely and Sadie Patience Crum Harbour. She graduated from Turner (Kansas) High School and attended Kansas State Teachers’ College, Pittsburg; Kansas Junior College, Kansas City; and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.

When she applied to become a missionary, Qualls wrote, “I felt the Lord calling me to use my talents for His glory rather than for my own worldly pleasure at the age of 18.” She felt God calling her to missions several times over the years, but especially after her husband, a pastor, also felt God calling.

By then she already had experienced working cross culturally as a “friendliness worker” in Kansas City. She said she went into the homes of Mexican immigrants, gave them Scriptures, tried to help with problems and tried to develop friendliness between ethnic groups.

She married Samuel Qualls on March 18, 1939. They were appointed missionaries to Brazil on May 10, 1951, and sailed for Brazil on July 5.

They studied language in Rio de Janeiro and Campinas and spent the rest of their years of service in Rio. While Samuel served as mission treasurer for 16 years, Emanetta considered herself primarily a homemaker. But she was involved in activities such as teaching women in the Rio’s poor favelas how to make a living by dressing dolls in native dress typical of the country.

Qualls also taught at a girls’ training school, directed a religious education course in a high school, directed assemblies, taught at the Goodwill Center and worked in the women’s and girls’ department at the Rio church she and her husband helped build. Samuel served as the church pastor for eight years.

The Quallses returned to the United States for several years but were reappointed in 1979 and served again in Brazil until they retired in 1983.

Qualls is survived by five children, Sue, Sam Jr., David, Robert, and Elizabeth; 13 grandchildren; 23 great grandchildren; two sisters; and two brothers.

A graveside service was held Dec. 6, 2019, at Chapel Hill Cemetery, Kansas City, Kansas.

In lieu of flowers, donations for the work in Brazil may be made to International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230.

Read an obituary here.