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Collection 242 Oral History Interview with Ruth E. Hess

Identifier: CN 242

Scope and Contents

Oral history interview with Ruth Edna DeVelde Hess (1909-1997), a missionary with the Plymouth Brethren Church at Sakeji School for missionary children in Zambia. Topics discussed include: Hess' life as a child in Wheaton, Illinois, and education at Wheaton Academy and Wheaton College; marriage to Lyndon Roth Hess; calling to be teachers of missionary children; decision to go to Africa; their work at Sakeji School from 1932 to 1982; and descriptions of life and customs in Zambia among the Lunda Tribe. The time period covered by the interviews is 1909-1982.

Ruth Hess was interviewed by Virginia Luknic on December 2, 1982.


  • Created: 1982

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Ruth Edna De Velde was born in 1909 in the Chicago area, and grew up in Chicago suburbs, including Wheaton, Illinois. Her father was a high school teacher in Irving Park. Being concerned about providing a Christian education for their two children (her older brother was Everett C. De Velde), her parents decided to move to Wheaton in 1923, in time for her brother to enter Wheaton College. Ruth attended Wheaton Academy.

Ruth went on to attend Wheaton College herself (1927-1931), and met her future husband there (Lyndon Roth Hess). They shared a common calling to serve on the mission field as teachers of missionary children, and were married in August, 1932, before sailing for Africa in November.

They were sent out to Sakeji School in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), under the auspices of the Brethren Assemblies (Plymouth Brethren). Mr. Hess began as a teacher, but assumed the duties of principal when the British missionary who had held that position went back to England. Ruth Hess also began as a full-time teacher but, during their second year at Sakeji, she took on the responsibilities of the school's housekeeper. She continued to teach on a part-time basis.

The Hesses had five children, and served at Sakeji School until 1975, when Mr. Hess resigned because of a suspected heart problem. Following a furlough in the United States, when the condition was discovered not to be serious, they returned to Sakeji, becoming involved with direct ministry to the Lunda Tribe.

The Hesses retired in 1982 and lived in Wheaton until they moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1994 where Ruth died on March 4, 1997.


1.00 Audio Tape

68 Minutes

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives in December, 1982.

Accession 82-176

November 20, 1987

Lannae Graham

T. Jodon

J. Nasgowitz

Revised January 19, 1990

J. Nasgowitz

L. Beloz

Collection 242 Oral History Interview with Ruth E. Hess
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Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US