In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Weldon Ernest Viertel, 89

Weldon Ernest Viertel, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel around the world, died Feb. 18, 2020. He was 89.

Viertel was born Dec. 4, 1930, in Stamford, Texas, to the late Max E. Viertel and Alice Byrd Viertel. He attended Texas Tech University, Lubbock, and received the Bachelor of Arts from Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, Texas. He received the Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, and the Doctor of Philosophy from Baylor University, Waco, Texas.

When seeking missionary appointment, Viertel wrote that during college he already felt God was dealing with him when a missionary from Brazil spoke to his class. “God used her message that morning in making the appeal personal,” he wrote. That fall in a campus revival, Viertel made a full surrender to foreign mission service.

“My plans were changed by God’s call,” he wrote.

In 1954, he married Joyce Garrett of Arp, Texas. He served as pastor of churches in Chillicothe, Lufkin and Kountze, Texas, before he and Joyce were appointed missionaries in 1959. They served in the Bahamas, at El Paso Baptist Publications, and in the Philippines and Cyprus, with short periods in Barbados, India, and New Orleans. Weldon worked in theological education and was especially known for writing seminary extension materials still used in training seminary students around the world.

The Viertels retired to Texas after serving 35 years. Joyce died Jan. 14, 2013, after 58 years of marriage.

In 2001, Viertel’s alma mater, Hardin-Simmons University, named him the first recipient of The Jesse C. Fletcher Award for Distinguished Service in Missions. Vernon Davis, dean of HSU’s school of theology, presented Viertel a citation that said, “you are struck by the consistent theme that runs through their mission service … ‘Wherever they were, the Viertels were always working on books and materials that could help people understand the Christian faith and share it more effectively.”

Davis said that Viertel “has never retired. He continues to teach, to write, to think, to speak, to dream about what can be yet accomplished through his work.”

Viertel’s survivors include his wife of six years, Jo; children Connie Lynn Williams; Timothy Weldon Viertel (Jan); and Lisa Lanell Bernard (Eli); eight grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren. Other survivors include children of Jo Viertel, John Barnett (Sandy); Tina Barnett (fiancé Craig Lew); Jeff Barnett (Linda); and four grandchildren.

A funeral service was held Feb. 22, 2020, at The Woods Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas

Read an obituary here.