In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Norma Jean Davis Leeper, 84

Norma Jean Davis Leeper, 1937-2021

Norma Jean Davis Leeper, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Germany, Turkey and Bosnia, died Sept. 7, 2021. She was 84.

Leeper was born May 15, 1937, in Battle Creek, Michigan, to the late Charles and Grace Householder Davis. She received the Bachelor of Education from the National College of Education, Evanston, Illinois. While there, she attended a meeting of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. James Frederick Leeper, who gave his testimony at the meeting, offered her a ride home and told her he was planning to be a missionary.

She wrote when applying for missionary service, that she had not really meant to get involved with someone who wanted to become a missionary. “I had a picture of hot, steaming jungles, and I just knew that would be unbearable for me.” But as they dated and she heard more about missions, she felt her heart softening.

Jean and Jim were married Aug. 16, 1959. Jean taught school for two years while Jim attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Ankara. The first Southern Baptist missionaries arrived June 5, 1966; James F. Leeper's family was greeted by Thomas B. Harris, III. IMB Photo

A trip to Europe during seminary convinced the couple they wanted to return there. In 1962, Jim became pastor of an international Baptist Church in Bamberg, Germany.

In 1966, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed the Leepers as missionaries to Turkey. They served 32 years as missionaries in Turkey, Germany and Bosnia before retiring in 1999 in Louisville, Kentucky, where they were members of St. Matthews Baptist Church.

Jean was preceded in death by her husband of 61 years, Jim, who died earlier this year. She is survived by daughters Tracy Leeper Irwin (Bart), Kelly Groninger (Scott), Kerry Leeper Brock (Rusty), and son James Leeper (Sherry). She is also survived by 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Oct. 2, 2021, at St. Matthews Baptist Church.

Read an obituary here.