In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Robert Alan Bernhardt, 75

Robert Alan Bernhardt, 1946-2022
IMB Photo

Robert Alan Bernhardt, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in the Caribbean Basin, Bahamas and Haiti, died Feb. 5, 2022. He was 75.

Bernhardt was born Oct. 17, 1946, in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, to the late Jacob Bernhardt and Marjorie Roseboom. He received the Bachelor of Arts from Anderson (Indiana) College (now University). While there he was student manager of the campus radio station and worked in commercial broadcasting. He later received a master’s degree from Wheaton (Illinois) College and attended Clearwater (Florida) Christian College and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.

Soon after finishing college, Bernhardt met Joanna Stowell, the daughter of missionaries to Brazil. “I was not only attracted to Joanna,” he wrote when seeking missionary appointment, “but was intrigued by her parents. … For the first time in my life, I was directly exposed to a missionary family. Their Christlike example and dedication to presenting the gospel to the Brazilian people captured my admiration.”

Bernhardt was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in Japan during the Vietnam War, first as a journalist for the Stars and Stripes, then as a base news director. He and Joanna were married Feb. 25, 1969, and she accompanied him to his assignment in Japan. There they attended Tokyo Baptist Church. By the time, they left Japan, Bob wrote, he had begun to see how his background in radio and television could be of value in missionary service.

After leaving military service, the Bernhardts worked with Worldteam, an interdenominational mission working in South Haiti. There Bob managed a radio station in Port-au-Prince as it grew from a part-time station to a full-time operation.

The Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) later appointed the Bernhardts missionaries to the Caribbean Basin, where they served 25 years, including in the Bahamas and Haiti.

They also served in the region with Trans World Radio.

Bernhardt is survived by his wife of 52 years, Joanna Stowell Bernhardt; children; Sonia Bernhardt, Eric Bernhardt (Amber), Ryan Bernhardt (Irene), and Natalie Diaz (Dan); and 10 grandchildren.

Donations in his memory may be made to the Lottie Moon Offering, IMB, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at Generosity Resource Center – IMB Generosity

Read an obituary here.