In memoriam: Charles Donald Langford, M.D.

Charles Donald Langford, 1931-2020

Dr. Charles Donald Langford went to be with the Lord on June 11, 2020. He was 88.

He and his wife Mary were appointed by the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) in June 1963. In January 1964, their family set sail for Hong Kong which was their home and place of service until December 1989.

Don Langford was born in Memphis, Tennessee, December 23, 1931, and moved with his parents to Gibsland, Louisiana, when he was five years old. In that small north Louisiana town he received a good education through high school, was drum major of the school band, played on the school basketball team, became an Eagle Scout and member of the Order of the Arrow, worked in his father’s drugstore, and hunted and fished the local woods and lakes.

Don went to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge on a band scholarship and was drum major of the LSU marching band. He worked two jobs or more each semester, while keeping up the grade point average needed to apply for medical school. He was also very active in the Baptist Student Union on the LSU campus and was president of the Louisiana State BSU Council.

In the fall of 1953, he entered Louisiana State University Medical School in New Orleans, receiving his M.D. in June 1957. He immediately began a year of internship at New Orleans Charity Hospital, followed by three years of surgery residency there.  His fourth and last year of surgery training was spent at Charity Hospital in Lafayette and was completed in June 1962, after which he was admitted to the American College of Surgeons.

In June 1956, Don married Mary Alice McCrary, the day after her graduation from LSU. Their son John was born in 1959, followed by James in 1962. With their two sons, Mary and Don returned to New Orleans where Don joined a surgical group and they both engaged in a year of study at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Since the FMB was planning to send him to the new Baptist hospital in the British colony of Hong Kong, it was necessary for Don to travel to Canada to take exams to be admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons.

During their first five-year term in Hong Kong, the Langfords completed a course of Cantonese language study and added another son and two daughters to their family. Don worked as surgeon at the Baptist hospital exclusively for the first ten years of their time there. He was also sent twice to the Baptist hospital in Kediri, Indonesia, during emergency staffing needs.

In 1974, Don and Lewis Smith, another missionary surgeon, set up a clinic in the most densely populated area of Hong Kong to offer their surgical services to people who could not afford the hospital fees. They continued to admit patients to the Baptist hospital, but used other hospitals in the colony as well. By using the fees from paying patients to pay for those who could not pay, the missionary doctors never had to turn anyone away.

In late 1989, the Langfords returned to the U.S. and settled in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he practiced medicine for another 25 years until his health began to fail.  During those years, he and Mary provided member care for missionaries on the field and made mission trips to more than a dozen countries. In June 2017, the Langfords moved to a retirement village in Dallas, Texas, to be near family. Don’s health declined until that day in June 2020, when the Lord took him home. Until his last days, Don Langford’s heart and mind were on what he might do to help care for the needs of others in the Lord’s name.