In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Patty Hooppaw Bellinger, 92

Patty Hooppaw Bellinger, 1929-2021

Patty Hooppaw Bellinger, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among Sub-Saharan Arican Affinity Peoples in Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire, died June 20, 2021. She was 92.

Born Feb. 17, 1929, in Pulaski, Illinois, to the late Lorene and David Hooppaw, Bellinger felt a calling at age 9 to spend her life as a missionary. To prepare, she received the Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and a diploma in nursing from the former Mather School of Nursing, New Orleans. While there, she met Robert Bellinger, who would become a student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. They were married the day after Pat graduated from nursing school.

Pat and Robert moved to Southern California, where they were involved in church planting. Pat worked as a nurse and Robert as an accountant. While attending missions week at the Baptist conference center at Glorieta, New Mexico, they responded to a call to become missionaries.

In 1963, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed the Bellingers missionaries to Liberia in West Africa. Soon they embarked on a six-week journey across the Atlantic with their three young children.

Pat spent her early years as a school and village nurse at Ricks Institute, a coeducational residential school. She served as the only medical staff for miles. According to her family, during her 30 years in Liberia, Pat taught high school and seminary students, established a publishing house for church literature and worked with young adults in producing a TV series.

During the early years of the civil war in Liberia Pat and Robert moved to neighboring Cote d’Ivoire, where she continued her publication work and support for Liberian refugees fleeing the fighting.

Years after leaving Liberia, her heart yearned to return to the land she loved dearly. In 2007 she returned to bury Robert’s ashes. She will return one more time, said her family, to be buried beside him.

After retiring to Louisville, Kentucky, Pat found opportunities at Walnut Street Baptist Church and later Lyndon Baptist Church — developing a new prayer ministry, supporting WMU groups and serving as a deacon.

Bellinger was preceded in death by her husband, Robert; son-in-law Chris Hammon; and grandson Rob Hammon. She is survived by her children James (Eva), Annie Hammon and Ruth Holladay (Jim); five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

A funeral service was held July 3, 2021, at Lyndon Baptist Church.

Read an obituary here.