In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Ralph A. Wilson, 89

Ralph A. Wilson, 1931-2021

Ralph A. Wilson, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among the American Affinity Peoples in Honduras and Costa Rica, died Feb. 25, 2021. He was 89.

Wilson was born May 16, 1931, in Carrizo Springs, Texas, and returned to live there after retirement. Wilson served four years in the United States Air Force. He received the Bachelor of Arts from Grand Canyon College, Phoenix, Arizona, and the Bachelor of Divinity from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Berkeley, California (now in Mill Valley, California).

Wilson wrote when seeking missionary appointment that while stationed at Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, two “warm-hearted” Southern Baptist chaplains at the base and the First Southern Baptist Church of Cheyenne, especially the pastor and his family, helped bring a young man who had strayed back to his early Christian training.

While in Cheyenne, he wrote, he began to feel God calling him to preach. After he left the service and returned to college, he made that call public and preached his first formal sermon at Love Baptist Church in Phoenix.

After college, he said, he worked on a large farm near Buckeye, Arizona, and served a pastor of a mission among the farm workers.

While in seminary, Wilson met and married fellow student Sue Austin. During and after seminary, Wilson served as pastor of missions and churches in Stockton, Concord, Pacheco and Burney, California. Through the years, a call to foreign missions that had begun while he was in seminary stayed with him.

In 1966, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed Ralph and Sue as missionaries to Latin America, where they served 29 years in Costa Rica and Honduras. When they settled in Choluteca, Honduras, in 1968, there were two Baptist churches in southern Honduras. In 1994, with the Wilsons approaching retirement, there were 24 churches and 20 missions.

Sue Wilson died a few days after her husband on March 8, 2021. They were survived by a son, William Robert Wilson, and a daughter, Charlotte Slack.

A celebration of life service for Ralph and Sue was held March 13, 2021, at First Baptist Church, Carrizo Springs, Texas.