Billy Graham Center

Papers of Richard Edgar Scheel - Collection 83

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent. Some or all of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan. ]

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Richard Edgar Scheel

An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

Lists of Audio Tapes, Photographs, and Slides in This Collection (Location Records)
    Audio Tapes
List of the Contents of Boxes of Paper Records in This Collection (Container List)


Transcript 2

Transcript 3

Brief Description.
Two oral history interviews recorded in 1980, slides, letters, and photographs of Scheel, a medical doctor, all relating to the work of the Sudan Interior Mission in Ethiopia. Interviews were recorded in January and February 1980.

Collection 83 [July 31, 2000]
Scheel, Richard Edgar; 1923-1989
Papers; 1953-1970, n.d.
1 Box (1 DC; .4 cubic feet); Audio Tapes, Negatives, Photographs, Slides


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.



Richard Edgar Scheel was born on September 3, 1923, to Mr. and Mrs. Edward H. Scheel of Wheaton, IL. The oldest of four children, Richard received his B.S. degree from Wheaton College in 1945. In 1947, he earned his medical degree from the University of Illinois in Champaign.

In December 29, 1950, Dr. Scheel married Margory Ingrid Ness - a registered nurse. The following year they were candidates for missionaries in the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM), and in April that same year departed for Africa. After brief service in Nigeria, they went to a mission hospital in Kallafo, Ethiopia, sponsored by the Wheaton Bible Church. They also received support, both in Nigeria and Ethiopia, from the Moody Memorial Church of Chicago.

As medical missionaries, Dr. and Mrs. Scheel served four terms of service in Ethiopia. From 1951 to 1968, he was with the hospital staff in Kallafo and Soddu. In 1969 to 1970, he served at Dessie with the hospital, a leprosarium and in an eye clinic. In 1970-1971, based in Addis Ababa, Dr. Scheel became responsible for the health of all SIM personnel in Ethiopia.

In August 1972, after they returned to the Chicago area, Dr. Scheel became a member of the medical staff of Central DuPage Hospital. He and his wife made their residence in Wheaton, IL. They returned several times to Ethiopia for extended stays for medical and evangelistic work.

The Scheels had five children - Daniel Edward born in 1951, Miriam Mabel - 1953, Rebecca Ann - 1956, Stephen Andrew - 1961, and Philip Richard - 1965.

Scheel died in 1989.

Scope and Content

Collection 83 contains audio tapes, slides, photos, letters and a personal diary of Dr. Richard E. Scheel, Sudan Interior Mission (S.I.M.) missionary to Ethiopia.

T1 and the slides in this collection give information on the Kallafo station in Ethiopia where the Scheels served as medical missionaries. The information includes location, weather conditions, population and the nature of the work conducted daily in the station. The work carried on at the Kallafo station was not only medical but educational and evangelistic as well.

The diaries written by Dr. Scheel over a period of twenty years from 1950 to 1970 contain information basically the same as with the tape and slides, but only in greater detail. Besides his day to day medical activities with the staff at the Kallafo station, Richard Scheel recorded his activities at Soddu, Dessie and Addis Ababa. Other information found in the diaries include family matters, language study, evangelistic work, furloughs, etc.

There is only a little correspondence in this collection. Two letters are from Mrs. Edward H. Scheel, mother of Dr. Scheel, written from Wheaton. In the letters she expressed concern over his illness. One other letter was written from the SIM Headquarters in Addis Ababa by Howard Borlase. Borlase wrote and expressed great concern over the fact that Dr. Scheel had contracted what was believed to be black water fever. Borlase also mentioned persecution of Christians in Darassa.

The collection also contains 35 mm positive and negative copies of photographs from the Scheel family collection. These include pictures of hospital at Soddu, shots of family and fellow workers, and scenes of Ethiopian life.

A significant event of the Scheels' stay in Kallafo, Ethiopia, was the visit of Emperor Haile Selassie. The tape, slides and photographs in this collection document this visit.

Dr. Scheel was interviewed by Mary Ann Buffington on January 23 and February 13, 1980 at his office. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed in the interview. The index is keyed to the cassette copy and not to the reel-to-reel original.

Tape T2 - side 1 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:08 Introduction
00:43 Family background
01:45 Education
03:35 Medical school
03:41 Mission field - Ethiopia
03:50 Activities at Wheaton
04:34 Effects of World War II on the college
05:50 Participation in Navy B-12 program
06:27 Particular teachers remembered at Wheaton
08:10 Wheaton classmates
09:20 Interest in missions and call to the field
10:24 Reason for choosing Sudan Interior Mission and Ethiopia
12:12 Married and applied for SIM
13:18 Appointment and departure to field
13:39 First station - Kano Eye Clinic, Nigeria
15:20 Language barriers
15:50 English speaking outreach--Youth for Christ meetings
16:37 Cultural adjustment
18:11 Opportunities for evangelism
19:56 Second station Ethiopia - Somali area; establishing a new station
22:50 Kallafo mission station
23:00 Helpers at the station
23:12 Scheel's illness - Black Water Fever
24:01 Return to Africa - 1955; malaria prevention
24:34 Christian Medical Society activities in the United States
26:32 Return to Kallafo station
27:00 Blood money - Somali custom
29:55 Visit to mission by Emperor Haile Selassie; hoped to improve roads and communication
31:14 Regular Air Force Air service to area begun
32:50 Local response to Selassie's visit
33:30 Selassie's gift to the mission school
34:03 Visit of Selassie to Soddo
34:58 Work with Muslim population at Kallafo (99 %)
35:27 Elementary school on mission compound
35:56 Required Bible course by order of the government
37:18 Methods of evangelism
38:35 How Muslim groups were approached
41:11 Opportunities abounded for mission work
41:35 Gift of boat from Jimma Christians
41:51 How did the patients arrive at the hospital
42:44 Yearly flooding and closing of Kallafo Medical Hospital
43:36 Assignment to Soddo Hospital
43:52 Language barriers at Kallafo
45:00 End of side 1

Tape T2 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Overlap from side 1
00:30 Work with Wollamo tribe
00:45 Characteristics of Wollamo
01:30 Training of dressers; out clinic workers
02:00 Response to Gospel in Wollamo area
02:15 What evangelistic methods seemed to work with Wollamo
03:15 System of church government terra paza
04:15 Other mission agencies (Comity)
06:15 Government response to mission activity
08:45 Government approval for improvement at Soddo hospital - no money - but customs exemption
10:15 Selassie helped mission work
11:00 Encouragement for Scripture translation
11:30 Church services in Soddo
13:30 Church's response to foreign missionaries
15:15 Communion
15:45 Church membership
16:45 Baptism
17:15 Coptic Christianity
19:15 Relation with priests
21:00 Education
26:00 Curriculum in schools
28:30 Translation of Scripture into tribal languages
29:15 Government
29:30 Coup d'etat attempt in 1960
31:45 Land ownership and harvest
32:45 Main food crop
33:15 1973 famine
33:45 Canadian helpers during famine
34:30 Military revolt
35:45 Selassie's response to famine
38:15 Agriculture
39:15 Export crops
41:30 Hospital conditions; mission and government medical work
43:00 Leprosy work
46:45 Trachoma
47:45 End of tape

Tape T3 - side 1 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Introduction
02:23 Eye disease
03:30 Christian Blind Mission
04:45 Village eye work
06:25 Community development
07:20 1972 famine; rescue work
08:40 Dutch hospital support
08:58 Community development team
09:39 Alternate forms of income; sesame seeds
10:03 Oil press
11:41 Use to make soap
12:55 Church planting in the Muslim area
13:51 Prevalent diseases
14:09 Chinese "barefoot doctors"
14:30 Dresser program
17:16 Source of medical supplies
18:19 Income of population
18:28 Mission Aviation Fellowship drugs
18:39 World Health Organization; UNICEF
19:55 Medical supplies from Italy, Germany, Switzerland
20:58 Hospital facilities Dessie, Soddo
22:26 Dressers
23:25 Average church attendance - 1973
24:45 Why mission left Ethiopia
27:13 Church persecution
27:58 Relations with neighbors
29:46 Relations with United States
31:11 Relations with Cuba
32:11 Marxist governmental influence - land
33:43 Air Force governors
34:17 Christian influence in today's government
35:46 Governmental hierarchy
39:55 Local farmer commune; relations with Soviet Union
41:23 Foreign investments in Ethiopia
43:42 Role of women in society
45:00 End of side 1

Tape T3 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Overlap from Side 1
00:30 Potential for future church growth
02:00 Radio ministry
02:45 Bible translation
03:45 Bible schools
04:30 Future potential for foreign missionaries
08:15 Analysis of mission experience
10:00 End of tape



The materials for this collection were received by the Center in June 1979 and January and February 1980 from Dr. Richard Scheel.

Accession: 79-64
July 9, 1979
Robert Shuster
G. Gallup
A. Labiano

February 28, 1980
Accession: 80-11, 80-22
Mary Ann Buffington
S. Kouns

Accession: 79-64, 80-11, 80-22
Type of Material: Audio Tapes
The following items listed below are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3 3/4 ips. Two sides. Recording of Dr. and Mrs. Richard E. Scheel. Contains information about the Kallafo mission station in Ethiopia; to be used in conjunction with the slides in this collection. July 26, 1957.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3 3/4 ips, 92 minutes. One side only. Interview with Dr. Richard Scheel by Mary Ann Buffington. Discussion of Scheel's education at Wheaton College, service in Ethiopia with Sudan Interior mission, Emperor Haile Selassie, Wallamo tribe, and government interaction with mission activity. January 23, 1980.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3 3/4 ips, 56 minutes. One side only. Interview with Dr. Richard Scheel by Mary Ann Buffington. Discussion of medical missions, Ethiopia, relations with other countries, Marxism, sex roles, future mission possibilities and various other mission-related topics. February 13, 1980.


Accession: 79-64
Type of Material: Negatives
The following items are located in the NEGATIVE FILE; request by Folder Titles at the beginning of each entry below:

SCHEEL, RICHARD. 35 mm negatives used to make the proof sheets described in the Photographs Location Record.


Accession: 79-64
Type of Material: Photographs
The following items are located in the PHOTO FILE; request by Folder Titles at the beginning of each entry below:

SCHEEL, RICHARD. Five black and white proof sheets containing 166 images of photographs borrowed from Dr. Scheel and copied. These include pictures of his hospital compound in Ethiopia, tours of inspection by then emperor Haile Selassie and province governor Kaboda Gubne, scenes of Ethiopian life, and of co-workers and associates, such as: Marjory Scheel, Mary Holsinger, Lois Emmel, Bindell Emmel, Tesumah, Hilda Weiss, Peter Kleppenstein, Aola Kleppenstein, Veola Unruh, and Lester Unruh.


Accession: 79-64
Type of Material: Slides
The following items are located in the SLIDE FILE as indicated below:

S1 - Photo slides of Dr. and Mrs. Richard E. Scheel, numbered 1 to 30 (slide 12 is missing) showing pictures of the Kallafo mission station in Ethiopia, to be used in conjunction with audio tape T1 in this collection; August, 1957.

Box Folder Description
1 1 Correspondence; October 1953
1 2 December 1950-January 1951
1 3 January-December 1951
1 4 January-December 1952
1 5 January-December 1953
1 6 December 1953-December 1954
1 7 January-December 1955
1 8 January-December 1956
1 9 January-December 1957
1 10 December 1957-December 1958
1 11 January-December 1959
1 12 January 1960-January 1961
1 13 January-December 1961
1 14 January-December 1962
1 15 January-December 1963
1 16 January-December 1964
1 17 January-June 1965
1 18 August-December 1967
1 19 January-December 1968
1 20 January-December 1969
1 21 January-December 1970

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Last Revised: 7/31/00
Expiration: indefinite