Death of Burnice E. Stetson, Former missionary to Zimbabwe

Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the death of Burnice “Bunni” Eva Stetson on September 17, 2012, in Cottonwood, Arizona.

1924 – 2012

Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the death of Burnice “Bunni” Eva Stetson on September 17, 2012, in Cottonwood, Arizona. Burnice and her twin sister, Bonita, were born to James Harold and Auda Rollins Young on January 11, 1924, in Windsor Township, Minnesota.

Bunni grew up in Newaygo, Michigan, and after high school she took stenographic training in Grand Rapids, Michigan. From 1944 to 1946 Bunni served in the Navy as a member of the Navy Women’s Reserve (WAVES), assigned to secretarial posts stateside. She also played the violin in the Symphonettes group for officers and participated in several water ballet performances directed by Esther Williams. In later years Bunni participated in the Veterans History Project, a project of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. Her recollections as a member of the WAVES are saved as an oral history interview on DVD and in photographs (Burnice Eva Stetson Collection, AFC/2001/001/64572).

Bunni graduated from Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan, with a BA in 1949 using the GI Bill. On August 26, 1949, she married Kirk Stetson, who entered medical school in Rochester, New York, a month later. During this time, she also earned her diploma in Practical Nursing and then worked as a nurse to help support Kirk through medical school and residency.

Following Kirk's graduation, the couple departed for Africa in 1956 as medical missionaries assigned to Mt. Selinda Mission Station of the United Church of Christ of Zimbabwe (UCCZ). Their children Charlinda Sherry (age 4) and Eric Richmond (age 2) went with them to Africa. Their youngest child, Lorrin Paul, was born in Africa in 1957. Kirk was co-medical director of the Willis F. Pierce Memorial Hospital at Mt. Selinda. Bunni helped teach her own and other missionary children, helped with the hospital sewing, and worked with African women’s groups.

After returning permanently from Africa in 1973, the Stetsons settled in Flagstaff, Arizona, where Bunni earned her master's degree in counseling at Northern Arizona University. She set up a Christian counseling service in marriage and the family. In 1992 they moved to Cottonwood, Arizona, where Bunni was a member of Verde Baptist Church.

Bunni is survived by her husband of 63 years, Kirk R. Stetson; daughter Charlinda (Duncan) Stewart of Camp Verde; son Eric Stetson of Flagstaff; three grandchildren and one great-grandson; and her sister, Bonita Sturtevant of Newaygo, Micigan. Her son, Lorrin, preceded her in death in 2009.

A memorial service will be held at 10:00am on Friday, September 28, 2012, at Verde Baptist Church, 102 S. Willard Street in Cottonwood.

Memorial contributions may be made to Global Ministries, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland OH 44115; The Gideons International, PO Box 1065, Cottonwood, AZ 86326; or to the Northern Arizona Hospice, 203 S. Candy Lane, Suite 10A, Cottonwood, AZ 86326.

An online guestbook is available at