In memoriam: Missionary emeritus James Frederick Leeper, 84

James Frederick Leeper, 1936-2021

James Frederick Leeper, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among the European Affinity Peoples in Germany, Turkey and Bosnia, died Feb. 14, 2021. He was 84.

Leeper was born Oct. 18, 1936, in Houston, Texas, to David Roy and Minnie Wagner Leeper. He grew up there and in Dayton, Kentucky, near Cincinnati. He received the Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he met Jean Davis, whom he married in 1959. He also received the Bachelor of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.

Leeper wrote when seeking missionary appointment that he had long felt a call to missions when he and Jean took a month-long tour of Europe during seminary. After the trip, they began to feel led to become pastor of an English-language church in Germany. After seminary they spent three years in Germany, where he was pastor of First Baptist Church (later Bamberg American Baptist Church) in Bamberg.

The Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed the Leepers as missionaries in 1965 and they served in Germany, Turkey and Bosnia.

In 1999, Jim and Jean retired to Louisville, where they attended St. Matthews Baptist Church. According to his family, he enjoyed traveling, watching and playing sports, gardening, volunteering and visiting family and friends across the country.

Jim is survived by his wife of 61 years, Norma Jean Davis Leeper; daughters Tracy Irwin (Bart), Kelly Groninger (Scott), and Kerry Brock (Rusty); and son James (Sherry). He is also survived by his brother Paul Leeper, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A memorial service was held March 6 at St. Matthews Baptist Church.

Memorial donations may be made to the Lottie Moon Offering, International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at

Read an obituary here.