Wallace Turnbull, Founder of Baptist Haiti Mission, Passes Away at 98 (READ MORE)

Wallace Turnbull

July 10, 1925 – May 20, 2024

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the herald, who proclaims peace, who brings news of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns"

The Life of Wallace Turnbull

Wallace Turnbull, the visionary founder of the Baptist Haiti Mission and a stalwart in ministry for 78 years, passed away on Monday, May 20, at his home in Fermathe, Haiti, succumbing to complications from pneumonia. At the age of 98, Wallace concluded a life marked by unwavering service to others.


During his nearly eight decades in Haiti, Wallace oversaw a ministry that changed generations of lives across the nation. To those acquainted with him, Wallace was more than a pastor, director, or educator; he was a source of hope and inspiration. Beyond his professional roles, Wallace found joy in his roles as a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Yet, above all titles, he found profound fulfillment in the role of a builder.


Even as a child, Wallace was interested in building, taking great pride in the little chairs he made from crates in the fourth grade. The joy of building his first chairs would go on to multiply itself in hundreds of churches and schools in isolated communities throughout the island nation.


As much as he delighted in the act of building, Wallace was a builder in another sense, too. He was a builder of God’s kingdom, which was the sole purpose of his life. The rural Hopital de Fermathe; the thousands of benches for churches and schools; the trusses to hold up the roofs; the warehouses stocked with supplies to distribute; the office buildings that line the road leading to his home, which he also built—all of it served a single function: to build up the Kingdom of God by sharing the love of Christ in tangible ways that met human needs both great and small.


Born in Hollywood, California, on July 10, 1925, Wallace’s childhood was marked by instability, hardship, and heartache. But from the time he first arrived on the island in 1946, Haiti would be Wallace’s home. The nation’s mountains provided fertile soil for him to grow roots and for his ministry to flourish. The Haitian people became his kin, sharing a common language of suffering and the redemptive powers of God’s grace.


In 2014, Wallace’s hard-earned love of countless individuals reached the national stage when he was awarded by President Michel Martelly the National Order of Honor and Merit, the highest honor the President of Haiti can bestow.


Wallace also received two honorary doctorates throughout his life, one in 2004 from the Université Jean-Price Mars as a Doctor of Theology and the other in 2017 from Liberty University.


Yet, perhaps the most poignant tribute to Wallace’s legacy came from the Protestant Federation of Haiti, which bestowed “honor and merit to the infatigable Pastor Wallace Turnbull for his dedication, his sense of philanthropy, and his ministry in Haiti.”


Wallace was preceded in death by his son, David, and his wife and lifelong ministry partner, Eleanor. He is survived by his sons Wally and Walter, his daughters-in-law Betty and Mary, seven grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren, and a nation of people he loved as his own.


This piece was written by Elizabeth Turnbull, granddaughter of Wallace Turnbull. You can read more about Wallace in his biography (click here), written by Elizabeth.

Continue the Legacy

Wallace Turnbull Memorial Fund

"God called, Wallace answered, and grace crept across the nation as a morning light, easing over the mountains, soaking the folds of valleys with its rays, bathing quilted fields in its warmth."

Photos from the Field