RICHMOND, Va. — The International Mission Board's (IMB) oldest emeritus missionary, Howard McCamey, was honored in a memorial service in Dallas Dec. 5. He died Nov. 26 at age 102.
Longtime members of Gaston Avenue Baptist Church in Dallas, Howard and his late wife, Georgia, were commissioned by the former Foreign Mission Board April 10, 1940 — one day shy of Howard's 34th birthday. Born April 11, 1906, Howard served as a missionary dentist in Nigeria for nearly three decades.
The McCameys' careers as missionaries started when they felt the Lord calling them to work at a hospital in Nigeria. They set sail in 1940, one year after World War II started.
The war presented many problems, especially for travelers. The voyage from the United States to Cape Town, South Africa, took a month. Once the couple arrived in Cape Town, they boarded another boat for Nigeria. Frequent detours to avoid German U-boats slowed their progress.
Nearly a month and a half later, Howard and Georgia reached their destination. But the grueling trek was still not over. Another missionary met them in Lagos, Nigeria, and from there they drove 176 miles to the hospital in Ogbomosho.
The couple's calling outweighed their exhaustion. Howard found himself in charge of a 46-bed medical hospital, 12 leper colonies and two medical dispensaries. He performed emergency dental work with only a foot drill and a flashlight.
Georgia, a nurse, helped staff the hospital, kept the books, taught new nurses, delivered babies, conducted a well-baby clinic once a month and was qualified to administer anesthetics. The couple's numerous responsibilities meant long work hours.
With no running water, Howard dug water holes by hand and piped water to the hospital. He also helped American and British soldiers during World War II get clean water, food and medical attention.
After nearly eight years on the mission field, the McCameys returned to Texas so Howard could update his dental skills. They went back to Nigeria in 1954 to run the Baptist Dental Clinic in Ibadan.
Perhaps the McCameys' greatest legacy is the young men they mentored during their missionary career. The McCameys taught them to clean teeth and make dentures, encouraged them to go to school and helped provide them with clothes, shoes and food. Most importantly, they shared their faith in Jesus.
One of the young men, Olaleyee Aremu, showed particular interest in dentistry. Howard mentored Olaleyee and later, along with doctor friends in the United States, helped him attend college.
Three years later, Olaleyee graduated summa cum laude from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and went on to attend dental school. He then returned to Nigeria to help the McCameys at the Ibadan clinic. When the McCameys retired to Dallas in 1971, their work continued as Olaleyee took over running the clinic.
Howard and Georgia opened a private dental practice in Dallas after retirement. Georgia died in 1994. Howard is survived by his sister, Doris Brown, and her family.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Brandon is a writer with the IMB.)