Leonette Warburton Wishard, former missionary to Turkey

Leonette Warburton Wishard, former missionary to Turkey

Global Ministries was saddened to learn of the death of Leonette Warburgon Wishard, former missionary to Turkey.

Leonette Warburton Wishard died at the age of 109 on December 2, 2011, in her residence at The Watermark in Bridgeport, Connecticut.   Born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on October 11, 1902, Mrs. Wishard was the eldest daughter of James and Margaret McGregor Warburton.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Colby College in 1923 and a Master degree in Religious Education from Andover Newton Theological Seminary in 1927.

In the fall of 1928 Leonette sailed from San Francisco to the Philippines via Tokyo, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.  In 1928 she was named Director of the Baptist Student Center and Dorm Matron in Iloilo, Philippines, serving in that capacity until 1932.  From 1932 to 1933 Leonette traveled to Singapore, the Suez Canal, and Europe returning to the United States to spend time with her family and friends in Epping, New Hampshire.  In 1935 she was named a delegate to the National Christian Council in China.  Returning to the U.S. in 1938 she attended Union Seminary and Columbia University Teachers College in New York.  Leonette returned to the Philippines in 1939 where she taught Religious Education at Baptist Missionary Training School and Baptist Seminary at Central Philippine College.  During this time she met Glenn P. Wishard, who was Director of the American and European YMCA in Manila.  Glenn and Leonette married in September 1941. Married just three months when the Japanese took over the Phillipines, the Wishards were taken as civilian prisoners and detained separately for three years and three months.  They saw each other only during the day as the men were segregated from the women and children.  When freed by U.S. Forces in February 1945, both Leonette and Glenn weighed 95 pounds and were among the first returned to the U.S.  

Upon their arrival, they first stayed with Leonette’s parents in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and spent their summers at the family cottage in Hedding New Hampshire.  The Wishards came to Bridgeport in the fall of 1945 where Glenn served as assistant to Reverend Fred Hoskins at United Congregational Church.  Leonette worked as a Home Missionary for the Baptist Church in what was then Yellow Mill Village; she taught Religious Education in released time programs in the public school system; was Religious Education Director at the First Baptist Church and then Secretary of Religious Education at United Congregational Church, both in Bridgeport. 

After Glenn’s passing in 1956, Leonette went to Athens, Greece, and taught English at Pierce College under the United Church Board of World Ministries, a predecessor board of Global Ministries.  In 1962 Leonette accepted a teaching position at the American School in Izmir, Turkey, which had a student body of 600.  She was then named Dean of Residence and teacher of English at the American Collegiate Institute in Izmir, Turkey, again under the United Church of Board of World Ministries.  In 1968 Leonette retired and returned to Bridgeport, Connecticut.

In 1978 the YMCA presented Leonette with its Endurance Award.  In 2005 the American Association of University Women, honored her by establishing a Fellowship Endowment named for her.  In 2006 she was named “Woman of Distinction” by the Girl Scouts Housatonic Council and in the same year the Connecticut Chapter of the American Association of University Women named her as its “Outstanding Woman of the Year.”

In addition to her husband and parents, Leonette was predeceased by three sisters, Josephine, Lillian, and Arline.  She is survived by her nieces Margaret Newman of Atlanta, Georgia, Barbara Rappel of Everett, Washington, Patricia Herring of Athens, Texas, her cousin Elizabeth Smith of Barrington, New Hampshire, a second cousin Margaret Redhouse of Leeh, New Hampshire as well as step-grandchildren, Sarah M. Taylor of Falls Church, Virginia, Douglas McMillan and Gordon McMillan of Sedgwick, Maine, seven great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.

Friends desiring to remember Mrs. Leonette Wishard are invited to make gifts in her memory to Global Ministries, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland OH 44115.  Please specify “American Collegiate Institute in Izmir, Turkey.”  Donations also may be made to the American Association of University Women, P.O. Box 98045, Washington, DC 20090-8045.  Please specify “L. W. Wishard International Endowed Fellowship #4236” in the memo section.

Services were held in Fairfield, Connecticut, entrusted to the Spear-Miller Funeral Home.

Condolences may be sent to:  Margaret Newman, 802 Vining Estates Run SE, Mabelton, GA 30126; Barbara Rappel, 1318 37th St #151, Everett, WA 98201; Sarah M.Taylor, 121 So Oak St, Falls Church, VA 22046; Douglas McMillan, Reach Road, Sedgwick, ME 04676; or Gordon McMillan, 87 Carter Pt Road, Sedgwick, ME 04676