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Dr. Kirk Raymond Stetson, Former Missionary to Zimbabwe

December 11, 2012

Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Kirk Raymond Stetson on November 22, 2012, in Cottonwood, Arizona, after a short illness.

Dr. Stetson was born September 26, 1925, in Rochester, New York, where his father, Paul, was an engineer at Kodak and mother, Lois, looked after the family.  He grew up involved in Soap Box Derby racing, Boy Scouts (where he was an Eagle Scout), and church life.

Kirk entered college in 1943 studying engineering, was in the Naval ROTC, graduated in 1945, and was commissioned in the Navy, serving in the Pacific until 1946. At this time, Kirk met the love of his life and future wife of 63 years, Burnice (Bunni) Young.

Kirk taught mathematics from 1946 to 1948 at Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey.  During this time he became interested in medicine.  In 1949, Kirk and Bunni were married and he attended the University of Rochester Medical School, graduating in 1953.

Following Kirk's medical residency, the couple departed for Africa in 1956 as medical missionaries assigned to the Mt. Selinda Mission 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 taught her own and other missionary children, helped with the hospital sewing, and worked with African women’s groups.  During this time they positively affected the lives of thousands of Africans, both physically and spiritually.  Kirk and Bunni are lovingly remembered to this day.

After returning to the United States in 1973, Kirk set up his medical practice in Flagstaff, Arizona, where they lived until retiring in Cottonwood, Arizona, in 1992.  In retirement, serving others remained his life’s work and they returned to Africa for two years.  Kirk also worked with Indian Health Services in Arizona and in Cottonwood at the Free Clinic at Old Town Mission.  He then joined Gideon Bibles and Habitat for Humanity until he fully retired in 2004.  Life remained busy and full.  Throughout his fulfilling life, Kirk Stetson’s Christian faith and his drive to help others were his guiding lights.

Kirk is survived by his daughter Charlinda (Duncan) Stewart of Camp Verde; son, Eric Stetson of Flagstaff; grandchildren Lain, Cameron, and Abigail; and great-grandson Maxwell; and his sister, Cynthia. His son, Lorrin, preceded him in death in 2009 as did his loving wife Bunni in September 2012.

A memorial service was held on Saturday, December 1, 2012, at Verde Baptist Church, 102 W. Willard St. Cottonwood, AZ.  An online guestbook is available at

Messages of condolence may be sent to:  Char Stewart and Eric Stetson, 1835 N. Mondale Lane, Camp Verde. AZ 86322.  Memorial contributions may be made in his name to: Global Ministries, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland OH 44115; Northern Arizona Hospice, 203 S. Candy Lane, Suite 10A, Cottonwood, AZ. 86326 (in memory of Kirk’s wife Bunni and son Lorrin); or to The Gideons International, PO Box 1065, Cottonwood, AZ 86326.



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