In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Joe Ellis Tarry, 1935-2024

Portrait of Joe Ellis Tarry, 1935-2024. IMB Photo

Joe Ellis Tarry, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Brazil, died Jan. 27, 2024. He was 95.

Joe was born on Aug. 3, 1935, in Lovington, New Mexico, to Joe Thomas Tarry and Hazel Pauline Cox Tarry. He graduated from Lovington High School, and received his bachelor’s degree from Eastern New Mexico University, in Portales, New Mexico, and the Master of Divinity from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.

During his time at Eastern New Mexico University, he served in the Army National Guard and is a Korean War veteran. During college he also served as a summer missionary to Jamaica.

Joe married Leona Mae Isbell on April 19, 1957.  Before appointment with the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board), he was a pastor.

In 1964, the Foreign Mission Board appointed Joe and Leona missionaries to Brazil. They served there for 36 years in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

His obituary reports that as a pastor and church planter, he was actively involved in the state Baptist Convention. He mentored young pastors, taught at the Baptist Institute, and served as a state leader of the men’s work, and in spiritual growth and stewardship. He also wrote many books on history, theology, spiritual growth, and stewardship both in Portuguese and in English. After retirement, he served as a chaplain and a pastor in New Mexico.

He is survived by Leona Isbell Tarry, his wife of 66 years; his two sons, Carl (Kathy) and Jonathan (Kellie); daughter, Charlotte (Jim) Whitley; six grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

A funeral service was held Feb. 1, in the chapel of Kirby-Ratliff Funeral Home in Lovington, New Mexico, Burial followed at Lovington Cemetery.