In memoriam: Emeritus missionary Ralph Lee Rummage, 93

Ralph Rummage

Ralph Lee Rummage, an emeritus International Mission Board missionary who shared the gospel among the Sub-Saharan African Affinity Peoples in Zimbabwe, died Jan. 8, 2020, in Waco, Texas, after a short illness. He was 93.

Rummage was born on June 3, 1926, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to the late Clarence and Gladys Rummage. He graduated from Will Rogers High School, Tulsa, in 1944. He received the Bachelor of Arts from Baylor University, Waco. While attending Baylor, Ralph met Laverne Russell. They married on June 3, 1948. They moved to the Bay area of California, where he received the Master of Divinity from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.

While in seminary and after graduation, Ralph and Laverne began their career in pioneer missions, participating in church planting in California. In 1957, they moved to Bixby, Oklahoma, where Ralph was a pastor for two years. In 1959, Ralph and Laverne were appointed by the Foreign Mission Board as career missionaries to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

While seeking missionary appointment, Ralph wrote that he felt a clear call to international missions as a student at Baylor: “God used a friend, Reiji Hoshizaki, to break down racial prejudice so that I could hear God’s call to mission service. I found that it is impossible to pray with a Christian, regardless of race, and hold on to prejudices.”

While on the mission field, Ralph received the Doctor of Ministry degree in 1985 from Southwestern Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. Over the years, Ralph filled roles in evangelism, education and administration across Zimbabwe. The Rummages served there for more than 30 years, retiring to Waco, Texas, in 1991.

In retirement, the Rummages continued to be involved in volunteer missions in Zimbabwe, Wisconsin, Kenya and Bosnia. Ralph remained an active member of Columbus Avenue Baptist Church, Waco, singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School and serving on many committees until his death.

He is survived by his wife of more than 71 years, Laverne; four children, David Rummage (Kate), John Rummage (Debbie); Carolyn Woods (Bill) and Paul Rummage (Carole); eight grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and sister-in law Mary Russell.

Memorial donations may be made to the International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at

Read an obituary here.