In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Nelda Gann, 81

Nelda Gann, 1939-2020

Nelda Maxine Gann, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among Sub-Saharan African Affinity Peoples in Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi, died July 22, 2020. She was 81.

She was born July 18, 1939, in Ozark, Missouri, to the late Ralph and Clora Plank and grew up in the Shady Grove community. Nelda accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior and Lord at a young age and was His faithful follower throughout her life.

She married her high-school sweetheart Dale Gann on June 3, 1956. She attended Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, and Southwest Missouri State College (now Missouri State University). Nelda taught fourth grade while Dale attended Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri. Nelda served alongside Dale as a pastor’s wife in Sparta, Highlandville, Deepwater and Warrensburg, Missouri.

Gann wrote when seeking missionary appointment: “In April of 1950 I united with the Sparta Baptist Church where I had the opportunity of attending Girls’ Auxiliary (Woman’s Missionary Union organization for girls) and first learned of world missions.” She was especially concerned for the lost in Africa.

Years later, in 1964, the International Mission Board appointed the Ganns as missionaries to eastern Africa. Nelda worked in women’s and children’s ministries and during their last nine years in Africa, she was the director of the Women’s Department of the Baptist Seminary in Arusha, Tanzania.

Following their return to Missouri after 38 years of service, Gann again served as a pastor’s wife at First Baptist Church, Chadwick. At the time of her death, Gann was a member of First Baptist Church, Ozark, Missouri.

Gann was preceded in death by her son, Monte Gann.

She is survived by her husband of 64 years, Dale Gann of Ozark; her daughter, Joy Burnett (Doug) of Paris, Missouri; daughter-in-law, Cindy Gann of Bolivar; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A celebration of life service was held July 26, 2020, at First Baptist Church, Ozark.

Donations in her memory may be made to the Lottie Moon Offering, IMB, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at

Read an obituary here.